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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 December 2018

Fifa whistleblower Chuck Blazer dies of cancer

Blazer, who served under Jack Warner as Concacaf general secretary and gave evidence to the FBI about football-related corruption, has died.

Chuck Blazer was banned for life by Fifa in July 2015. Arnd Wiegmann / Reuters
Chuck Blazer was banned for life by Fifa in July 2015. Arnd Wiegmann / Reuters

Former Fifa official Chuck Blazer, who gave evidence to the FBI about football-related corruption, has died, his lawyers have announced.

The American, who had been battling cancer, served under Jack Warner as Concacaf's general secretary but was banned for life by Fifa in July 2015.

Blazer's death was announced by his lawyers, Eric Corngold and Mary Mulligan.

"We are truly saddened by the passing of our client and friend, Chuck Blazer," a statement from Corngold and Mulligan said.

"During his 20 years as Concacaf general secretary, Chuck Blazer was instrumental in bringing the federation into the modern age. His misconduct, for which he accepted full responsibility, should not obscure Chuck's positive impact on international soccer.

"With Chuck's guidance and leadership, Concacaf transformed itself from impoverished to profitable, with substantial benefits and improvements to all member associations, players and fans.

"Throughout his adult life, Chuck felt great pride in his service to soccer. In fact, he devoted thirty years of his life to soccer at all levels of the game, with his involvement ranging from coaching his children's youth teams to serving on Fifa's executive committee."

Blazer admitted in June 2015 that he and others took bribes totalling US$10 million (Dh36.7m) for South Africa to host the 2010 World Cup and an undisclosed sum for Morocco's unsuccessful bid to host the 1998 tournament.

The revelation, contained in a plea bargain published by the US Department of Justice, came little more than 24 hours after Sepp Blatter announced he would be standing down as Fifa president as a corruption scandal gripped world football's governing body.

''I and others on the Fifa executive committee agreed to accept bribes in conjunction with the selection of South Africa as the host nation for the 2010 World Cup,'' Blazer said in his testimony.

''Beginning in, or around, 2004 and continuing to 2011, I and others on the Fifa executive committee agreed to accept bribes in conjunction with the selection of South Africa as the host nation for the 2010 World Cup.''

Blazer said bribes and kickbacks were also commonplace in the Concacaf tournaments run in North and Central America and the Caribbean.

The statement from his lawyers added that Blazer had hoped to help make football's governing bodies more accountable and transparent.

"The May 27, 2015 announcement of the Department of Justice's corruption case involving Fifa and Concacaf made Chuck Blazer's important, multi-year cooperation in the investigation public," the statement continued.

"By assisting the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service, and the United States Attorneys' Office for the Eastern District of New York in their joint investigation into the organizations governing international soccer and the companies conducting business with them, Chuck hoped to help bring transparency, accountability and fair play to Concacaf, Fifa and soccer as a whole.

"Chuck also accepted responsibility for his own conduct by pleading guilty and owning up to his mistakes. Chuck felt profound sorrow and regret for his actions. He expressed sincere remorse towards his former constituents and colleagues, and to all of the soccer players and fans disappointed by his conduct.

"Chuck Blazer committed much of his life to making the world of soccer a better place for the players and the fans. He will be missed."