Disgraced former soccer official Chuck Blazer, whose whistleblower evidence helped to prosecute the FIFA bribery scandal in 2015 which ultimately took down FIFA president Sepp Blatter, died on Wednesday at the age of 72 of cancer.
In 2015, Blazer was banned from football for life by FIFA for his “many acts of misconduct” at the organization and as general secretary of the CONCACAF confederation.
The ban came after Blazer admitted that he and others on FIFA’s ruling panel agreed to receive bribes in voting for the hosts of the 1998 and 2010 World Cups, France and South Africa, respectively.
Born in New York City, Blazer began his career as a volunteer soccer administrator. He quickly rose within the ranks of organization, partnering with former CONCACAF president Jack Warner to eventually establish a soccer powerhouse.
Blazer was named to FIFA’s executive committee in 1997 and remained there until 2013.
“I’ve known Chuck for a lot of years. He did a lot for the sport. Sorry about all the issues regarding FIFA, but he was a good man,” U.S. national team coach Bruce Arena said, adding, “He helped the sport in the United States.”
Along with the growth of the soccer industry, Blazer was able to amass a fortune, thanks to bribes and kickback schemes, earning him the nickname “Mr. 10 Percent.” Blazer reportedly owned two apartments in Trump Tower, one for himself and another for his cats.
He reportedly tried to hide his income by not paying his federal income taxes. When the FBI and the IRS came after the corrupt official in 2011, the FBI turned Blazer into a confidential informant. With his help, the Department of Justice eventually indicted dozens of soccer administrators from around the world.
“Chuck hoped to help bring transparency, accountability and fair play to CONCACAF, FIFA and soccer as a whole,” his lawyers said in a statement. “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.”
Blazer pleaded guilty in November 2013 to a list of conspiracy and racketeering charges and forfeited millions, but he never went to jail. However, he was banned from soccer for life by FIFA on July 9, 2015.
“His misconduct, for which he accepted full responsibility, should not obscure Chuck’s positive impact on international soccer,” his lawyers said in a statement. “With Chuck’s guidance and leadership, CONCACAF transformed itself from impoverished to profitable.”
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