Blazer: I took World Cup bribes

Published: Thursday 4th June 2015 by The News Editor

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FIFA’s bribery scandal has deepened after admissions of bribes being paid to senior officials to vote for the 2010 and 1998 World Cups – with the FBI reported to be investigating the bidding for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments.

Whistleblower Chuck Blazer has admitted he and others took bribes totalling 10million US dollars 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 is contained in a plea bargain published by the US Department of Justice and casts another giant shadow over the murky world of FIFA politics.

The publication of the court admission by Blazer, the former CONCACAF general secretary and FIFA executive committee member, came little more than 24 hours after Sepp Blatter announced he would be standing down as FIFA president.

“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.

Blazer’s indictment also says he and then FIFA vice-president Jack Warner travelled to Morocco in 1992 where they agreed to take a bribe to vote for that country for the 1998 World Cup, which was won by France.

Warner, who is the subject of an Interpol ‘international wanted person’ alert and was included in the US Department of Justice’s indictment, released a party political broadcast in his native Trinidad and Tobago overnight in which he alleged a link between Blatter and the 2010 elections in his home country.

Warner said he had placed sensitive documents in “respected hands” and said he was now in fear for his life. Speaking at a rally after the release of the video, he said he knew the reasons why Blatter had chosen to stand down.

The Blazer testimony followed reports that the FBI is also investigating the bidding processes for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to be held in Russia and Qatar respectively.

Last week 14 people were indicted on charges of racketeering and money-laundering. Four others had already been charged, including Blazer.

The FIFA scandal has led to question marks being placed over the 2018 and 2022 competitions, with many commentators suggesting the bidding process for those tournaments should be held again.

Qatar World cup organisers insist the crisis at FIFA will not affect their preparations for the tournament in 2022.

A statement from Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy said: “The recent events at FIFA will not impact on our preparations for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. With five stadiums currently under construction we are ahead of schedule to deliver on our promises.

“Qatar has faced criticism from the moment we won the right to bring this tournament to the Middle East for the first time.

“We remain committed to using the World Cup as a platform to break down prejudice and misconceptions, while leaving a lasting legacy for our country and the rest of the region.”

The leader of Australia’s unsuccessful 2022 bid, Football Federation Australia chairman Frank Lowy, said in an open letter published on Wednesday: “We ran a clean bid. I know that others did not, and I have shared what I know with the authorities.”

Lowy also defended the payment of 500,000 dollars to the CONCACAF confederation – at the time led by Warner and Blazer during the bid campaign.

Lowy said the payment had been made as a “compromise” after the bid team were originally asked for 4million US dollars to fund a Centre of Excellence development in Trinidad, and was paid directly into a CONCACAF account and not directly to Warner.

In his open letter Lowy said that a CONCACAF inquiry found that the funds were “misappropriated” by Warner and said that US authorities were now looking into the payment as part of their investigations.

Published: Thursday 4th June 2015 by The News Editor

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