Things are moving fast in the FIFA investigation: on Wednesday, court papers containing the full testimony of former CONCACAF general secretary and FIFA executive committee member Chuck Blazer, who became an informant in the FBI’s ongoing investigation into corruption at FIFA, were released. As expected, Blazer admitted that he and other unnamed executive committee members accepted bribes in exchange for World Cup votes.
In particular, Blazer’s testimony cites the campaigns for both the 1998 and 2010 World Cups, awarded to France and South Africa, respectively, as being tarnished by bribery.
We already knew about South Africa, thanks to reports from a few days ago, but Blazer’s revelation about 1998 is new; in his testimony, the 70-year-old admits that he accepted a bribe ahead of the awarding of that tournament to France, while other documents reveal that the American was present when a co-conspirator accepted a bribe in Morocco, which was bidding against France at the time.
Regarding South Africa 2010, which was voted on in 2004, Blazer says that, “he and others on the FIFA executive committee, also accepted bribes, although the court papers don’t mention any names or how many “others” Blazer is talking about.
Meanwhile, both the South African government and FIFA, who’ve had some time now to digest the allegations, vehemently deny that the $10 million transferred to disgraced former FIFA official Jack Warner, who reports claim shared some of the money with Blazer in turn, was payment in exchange for their vote for South Africa hosting the 2010 World Cup. Officially, the money was for something called the “Diaspora Legacy Programme,” of which Warner was the fiduciary.
While South African authorities on Thursday said they are launching their own investigation into the matter, FIFA -- instead of, you know, launching its own investigation -- claims it was merely an intermediary in the transaction and therefore had no right to know exactly what the money was for. In any event, both the organization and general secretary Jerome Valcke, who was originally linked with having authorized the transfer, claim instead that former SVP Julio Grondona, who died last year, is the one who signed off.
Of course, we have yet to hear officially from the main character in this story -- that is, Warner himself. The Trinidadian, who was one of the 14 indicted by the FBI last Wednesday, has so far only released a video in which he says ominously: “not even death will stop the avalanche that is coming.” As Soccer America’s Paul Kennedy notes, Warner has said stuff like this before, only to disappoint. However, in the video, he claims to have given documents of his transactions during his time at FIFA to a third-party, while hinting that the information could possibly incriminate the big boss, FIFA President Sepp Blatter.
Warner now says that he fears for his life.
Yikes. In light of the new developments, all Off The Post can think of is: how very much like a real mafia story this is turning out to be -- which is absolutely crazy when you consider that this is technically supposed to be about a nonprofit soccer organization.
It’s anybody’s guess what happens from here, but the unfolding FIFA scandal continues to fascinate, and horrify.