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Americans at center of FIFA bribery scandal
by Paul Kennedy, May 25th, 2011 3:47PM
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[FIFA] Cluck Blazer, who leveled the explosive bribery charges against FIFA presidential candidate Mohamed bin Hammam and Blazer's boss, Concacaf president Jack Warner, that rocked the soccer world in Wednesday, is a well-known figure on the American soccer scene for more than a quarter century. The charges against bin Hammam, Warner and two Caribbean Football Union officials stem from an investigation by longtime U.S. soccer attorney John Collins into meetings that took place earlier this month in Trinidad when bin Hammam met with members of CFU federations seeking their support in his bid to unseat incumbent Sepp Blatter.

The stunning developments come a week before FIFA's 208 members vote to elect a president. Blatter is running for a fourth term. His only opponent is bin Hammam, the president of the Asian Football Confederation.

The CFU meeting was held in Trinidad May 10-11 because bin Hammam did not have a visa to enter the United States for the Concacaf Congress (at which Blatter attended).

The Telegraph's Paul Kelso reported that Warner, on behalf of Bin Hammam, offered $40,000 in cash as a “gifts” and “development projects” to support the Qatari.

“I conducted the investigation,” Collins, the former U.S. Soccer general counsel, said. “I interviewed a number of parties and collated a number of documents including sworn affidavits. I then passed the report to FIFA on Mr. Blazer’s behalf.”

Bin Hammam dismissed the charges as a political "tactic." Warner denied the allegations and also noted the timing of the charges.

Blazer's move to turn on Warner ends a 20-year relationship dating back to Blazer's work to help get Warner elected as Concacaf president in 1990.

Blazer then took over day-to-day operation of the regional confederation and helped build the small organization in a major soccer enterprise with offices in Trump Towers and wide influence in FIFA politics.

Blazer's knowledge of marketing -- the smiley-face buttons were his idea -- and computer technology stood him apart on the FIFA executive committee when he was appointed in 1996.

Based in Chicago, Collins has represented many soccer organizations, including FIFA, during his legal career.



3 comments
  1. Ted Westervelt
    commented on: May 26, 2011 at 9:31 a.m.
    So, who is US Soccer behind in this election? They're certainly trying to take down one candidate, while remaining mum on the other. Are they (which includes board member Don Garber and NE Revs Prez Gulati) behind Sepp? Do they think their tacit support of his efforts will gain MLS an extension on their single entity grace period, and perhaps a pass on expanding beyond 20 teams. Blatter has spoken to Obama himself on when we'd join the rest of the world. In the final analysis, it looks to like Garber and Gulati are better at politics than they let on in the wake of the Gousabid debacle. I understand why MLS can't overtly scream about the appearance of FIFA selling World Cup bids: They're trying to charge $100 million for D1 slots in this country. In that light, their sly approach to insuring a Blatter win makes sense.
  1. Ted Westervelt
    commented on: May 26, 2011 at 9:36 a.m.
    So, who is US Soccer behind in this election? They're certainly trying to take down one candidate, while remaining mum on the other. Are they (which includes board member Don Garber and NE Revs Prez Gulati) behind Sepp? Do they think their tacit support of his efforts will gain MLS an extension on their single entity grace period, and perhaps a pass on expanding beyond 20 teams? In the final analysis, it looks to like Garber and Gulati are better at politics than they let on in the wake of the Gousabid debacle. I understand why MLS can't overtly scream about the appearance of FIFA selling World Cup bids: They're trying to charge $100 million for D1 slots in this country. In that light, their sly approach to insuring a Blatter win makes sense.
  1. James a Sutton
    commented on: May 26, 2011 at 11:32 a.m.
    This type of slimy behavior plus the gambling problems from players and referees is killing the growth of soccer here in America. FIFA and all Soccer organizations have to take a brutal stand against this type of behind the scenes graft. We American's tend to see ourselves as above all of this, wrongly no doubt, but the tarnish is hard to remove none the less.

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