Keir RadnedgeThe suspension of Chuck Blazer, FIFA’s original whistleblower, has lifted into double figures the number of FIFA personalities disgraced to a greater or lesser degree over the past three years since the infamous 2018/2022 World Cup vote.

That includes nine present or past exco members plus Joao Havelange whose resignation from the role of honorary president for taking ISL bribes suggested that he was the fount of the original corrupt trend.

New Yorker Blazer has been suspended provisionally for 90 days from  all football activities in the fall-out from the damning report into his and Jack Warner’s financial stewardship of regional confederation CONCACAF over almost two decades.

Although Blazer quit his role as CONCACAF general secretary last December he remains, technically, one of the confederation’s delegates on the FIFA executive committee until Congress on Mauritius on May 30 and 31. Fellow American Sunil Gulati will then take his place.

Under FIFA statutes a replacement for Blazer should be appointed as soon as possible. In these circumstances it would seem appropriate for Gulati to make an early start to his four-year tenure.

FIFA Ethics chairman Hans-Joachim Eckert acted over Blazer on a request from acting deputy chairman Robert Torres. An investigation had already been launched over allegations of ‘serious alleged misconduct’ in the Simmons report to CONCACAF.

Though Blazer has been a larger than life figure on the United States soccer scene for more than 30 years, he hit international headlines in May 2011 when he ‘blew the whistle’ on an infamous conference of the Caribbean Football Union in Port of Spain, Trinidad.

The conference had been called to hear Qatari Mohamed Bin Hammam canvas votes for his bid to become FIFA president. After the meeting, organised by the then CONCACAF leader Warner, delegates were offered envelopes containing $40,000 in cash as “expenses.”

Several delegates told Blazer, then in New York, he told FIFA and thus exploded one of the biggest scandals in the organisation’s history.

Subsequently questions were raised about the complexities of Blazer’s own financial  arrangements with CONCACAF and these featured in the recent report produced by Simmons which excoriated not only Warner but Blazer, too. Both Blazer and Warner have always denied any wrongdoing.

Blazer, originally, was one of the most influential powers in the rise of professional soccer in the United States which culminated in the hosting of the World Cup finals in 1994 and launch of Major League Soccer.

He developed the USSF’s national team programme in the 1980s, served one term as executive vice-president of the federation and was then  commissioner of the American Soccer League before gaining access to the levers of international football power through the general secretaryship of CONCACAF which he assumed in 1990.

The controversial Trinidadian Warner and Blazer turned a hitherto sleepy confederation into a political force within world football.

Blazer’s particular pride was in the high-tech television control suites he constructed within a suite of offices in Trump Tower on New York’s prestigious Fifth Avenue.

He was soon a fixture within various FIFA committees and joined the exco in 1997 as CONCACAF delegate for North America after the death of long-serving Mexican Guillermo Canedo.

The high point of his FIFA tenure was as chairman of the crucial marketing and TV committee which negotiated the deals on which the financial success of both the World Cup and the world federation itself are founded.

The beginning of the end, however, was Warner’s decision to turn his back on long-time FIFA president Sepp Blatter and support Bin Hammam in the 2011 presidential campaign. That led to the doomed Port of Spain conference.

Roll of FIFA exco dishonour:

Amos ADAMU: Nigerian banned for three years in October 2010 after being caught out in the World Cup cash-for-votes scandal;

Mohamed BIN HAMMAM: Qatari the-president of the AFC banned for life over election bribery allegations then again in connection with claims of misuse of AFC funds;

Chuck BLAZER: American ex-CONCACAF general secretary and Bin Hammam conference ‘whistleblower’, just suspended for 90 days over allegations stemming from the Simmons Report into CONCACAF finances;

Issa HAYATOU: Cameroonian president of CAF reprimanded in December 2011 by the International Olympic Committee, of which he is a member, for receiving $100,000 from FIFA’s former marketing agency, ISL;

Nicolas LEOZ: Paraguayan 84-year-old who, last month, quit as president of CONMEBOL on health grounds just ahead of the ISL report implicating in the bribe-taking ISL scandal;

Vernon MANILAL FERNANDO: Sri Lankan businessman banned for eigth years last month for ethics code breaches believed to be linked with the Bin Hammam conference in Port of Spain;

Ricardo TEIXEIRA: Brazilian then-president of the CBF and 2014 World Cup local organising committee who ran into self-exile in Miami last year after a string of financial scandals, including, most notably the ISL bribes accusations;

Reyald TEMARII: Tahitian then-president of Oceania was suspended in October 2010 for one year after being caught out in the World Cup cash-for-votes scandal;

Jack WARNER: Trinidad president of CONCACAF and the Caribbean Football Union as well as a FIFA vice-president who walked away from the game rather than answer bribery-related allegations over the Bin Hammam election conference. Subsequently forced to quit as a government Minister over pressure of football financial scandal accusations.

By Keir Radnedge

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