Geneva (AP) — Chuck Blazer was banned for life by FIFA’s ethics committee on Thursday for widespread corruption, finally ending the career of the long-time most senior American in world football.
The expulsion from football duty was a formality after Blazer’s guilty plea to racketeering and tax evasion charges was unsealed in May by United States federal agencies.
FIFA’s ethics panel made its ruling using evidence from the American federal case which has plunged FIFA and international football into crisis.
“(Blazer) was a key player in schemes involving the offer, acceptance, payment and receipt of undisclosed and illegal payments, bribes and kickbacks as well as other money-making schemes,” the FIFA ethics committee said in a statement.
Blazer pleaded guilty to 10 counts including racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies and income tax evasion.
He admitted receiving payments in a $10 million bribe scheme to support South Africa’s successful 2010 World Cup hosting bid. The plot linked Blazer and two other then-FIFA executive committee members in getting cash which South African officials asked FIFA to transfer through the governing body’s accounts in 2008.
Blazer also admitted involvement in World Cup ticket sale scams and abusing his position as CONCACAF general secretary to take millions of dollars in kickbacks from commercial deals he negotiated for the Gold Cup tournament.
He was a cooperating witness with United States federal agencies since 2011 after his tax affairs were investigated.
Blazer served on FIFA’s policy-making executive committee for 16 years until 2013.
He had risen to power at CONCACAF, the regional football body governing North and Central America and the Caribbean, alongside its disgraced former president Jack Warner.
FIFA opened an ethics investigation against Blazer after the corrupt financial management of CONCACAF was exposed in 2012.
“Mr Blazer committed many and various acts of misconduct continuously and repeatedly during his time as an official in different high-ranking and influential positions at FIFA and CONCACAF,” the ethics panel said Thursday.
The FIFA proceedings were suspended in 2013 due to Blazer’s ill-health and while the U.S. federal case developed.
Blazer, now 70, told a Brooklyn court in November 2013 that he had been treated for rectal cancer.
He forfeited more than $1.9 million at the time of his plea and has agreed to pay more when he is sentenced.
Blazer’s life story could be made into a Hollywood film. The rights to an upcoming book of his football administration career were bought last month.