Bryan Altman, CBS Local Sports
As the blows continue to rain down upon FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association, international soccer’s governing body) in the wake of this morning’s arrest of 14 people associated with the organization in Zurich, Switzerland, new revelations regarding how exactly the investigation unfolded has slowly come to light. One of the key players in the operation was former FIFA Executive Committee member turned FBI/IRS informant Chuck Blazer, who had quite a lavish lifestyle before the agencies caught wind of his corrupt and fraudulent practices.
The New York Daily News revealed in November of 2014 some of Blazer’s numerous indulgences, which ranged from the ritzy and glamorous, to the plain strange.
Besides not paying taxes on his multi-million dollar income for nearly a decade, Blazer had what the Daily News decried “a fleet of mobility scooters to move from feast to feast,” to help transport the 400-plus pound Blazer between “a world of private jets, famous friends, secret island getaways, offshore bank accounts” and “much fine food and drink.”
If that’s not “rich” enough, when Blazer wasn’t gallivanting about he was residing in his posh $18,000 per month apartment on the 49th floor of New York’s Trump Tower. Plus, he knew his next door neighbor’s pretty well too because, well, they were his cats.
According to the Daily News, “Blazer often worked from two apartments where he lived on the 49th floor in $18,000-per-month digs for himself and an adjoining $6,000 retreat largely for his unruly cats, according to a source.”
Blazer is a New York native who represented American soccer interests in FIFA from 1998-2013. During much of that time Blazer also served as the general secretary of CONCACAF, or the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football.
In the late 2000s, the FBI and the IRS began investigating Blazer for fraud and tax evasion, claiming that Blazer hadn’t paid income taxes on his multi-million dollar earnings for nearly 10 years. As a result, Blazer became an informant for the agencies – a move that paid dividends on Wednesday morning as the Swiss authorities – acting on behalf of the United States – rounded up the members of FIFA accused of various levels of fraud and corruption over the last decade plus.
Meanwhile, the 70-year-old Blazer, who has been reported by numerous outlets to be in bad health due to colon cancer, has pleaded guilty to racketeering, wire fraud, income tax evasion and money laundering, according to the LA Times.
Multiple media outlets are reporting that the investigation into the wide-spread corruption that has pervaded FIFA for years is nowhere near complete. According to ESPNFC.com, Swiss authorities have just opened an investigation into “criminal proceedings related to the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.” Additionally, The New York Times has reported that U.S. officials have “vowed to pursue” more charges against corrupt FIFA officials and their fraudulent practices.