Questions for Chuck – and FIFA
By Andrew Jennings
Sunday August 21, 2011
American Fifa official Chuck Blazer whose financial dealings were disclosed last week faces a new challenge from disenchanted fans.
The respected ChangeFIFA group is asking Fifa’s ethics committee to investigate the revelations of unorthodox payments from regional football organisations to offshore Caribbean accounts belonging to executive committee member Blazer.
Washington lawyer David Larkin, a co-director of ChangeFIFA, said, ‘We are calling upon FIFA to resolve troubling questions that hang over yet another of FIFA's leaders. The era of endless delays, wilful ignorance and unresolved questions must end to begin the process of winning back the trust of fans and players who fear for the future of the game.’
Last week Mr Blazer confirmed that he had received around $500,000 from the Caribbean Football Union, repayment of personal loans he had made to Fifa vice-president Jack Warner, from Trinidad, and that if they were inappropriate he would return the money. The payments had been authorised by Mr Warner who resigned from Fifa in May in the wake of disclosures about an alleged attempt to bribe regional officials in Fifa’s presidential election.
Here’s Chuck’s Mercedes again
Also last week it was confirmed in New York that an FBI task force is examining Blazer’s accounts and other offshore assets. Fifa also confirmed that a valuable antique Mercedes belonging to Blazer is registered in its name in Zurich and that he is billed for the cost of garaging it at Fifa headquarters.
Meanwhile, Mr Blazer is still highly regarded at Fifa. Many were surprised when he retained the chair of their marketing and TV advisory board despite being damned by a New York judge in 2006 for allegedly fabricating evidence. President Blatter did not see this was any reason to refer him to Fifa’s ethics committee.
Blazer is active on Fifa’s 24-man ruling executive committee and its committees for club football, special projects and players’ status. There he sits alongside new executive committee member Manilal Fernando, from Sri Lanka, currently under investigation by Fifa’s ethics committee with two other members of the ruling group.
They were passengers on the private jet of fellow executive committee member Mohammed Bin Hammam from Qatar that shipped an estimated $1 million in cash into Trinidad in May, allegedly to bribe Caribbean officials to vote for him against Sepp Blatter in Fifa’s presidential election. Blazer blew the whistle on that meeting, leading to the expulsion of the Qatari and hurried resignation of Jack Warner.
Disbarred for professional misconduct
Warner’s son Daryll and Manilal Fernando remain Fifa regional development officers, with considerable power in the awarding of grants to national associations. Chuck Blazer’s case against Jack Warner was prepared by Chicago lawyer John Collins, a member of Fifa’s legal committee. He replaced Blazer’s daughter Marci. Another member of that committee is Fiji’s Sahu Khan, disbarred in May for professional misconduct. Mr Khan is also a member of Fifa’s disciplinary committee.
Alongside Chuck Blazer on Fifa’s marketing board is executive committee member Ricardo Teixeira, under police investigation in Brazil over the disappearance of £2.5 million of public funds intended to promote an international game against Portugal in 2008. (TransparencyInSport has copies of the prosecution evidence). Teixeira is also alleged to have received nearly $10 million in kickbacks from Fifa’s former marketing company. Next weekend fans plan to stage demonstrations at 20 matches in Brazil calling for the removal of Teixeira from the presidency of the national association and the chair of the committee organising the 2014 World Cup.
Continued . . .