Lucky Chuckie! Blazer takes secret 10% on sponsor deals
By Andrew Jennings
Sunday July 17, 2011
FIFA official Chuck Blazer from New York, the ‘Mr Clean’ who turned whistleblower and forced his colleague Jack Warner out of the game, secretly trousered nearly $2million in “commissions” from football marketing deals last year.
The previous year was even more lucrative for Mr Blazer. He took $2,622,714 in 2009 and over the last five years has paid himself $9.6 million in bonuses on top of his pay as general secretary of Concacaf, the confederation of footballing nations in the Caribbean, central and North America.
The accounts of the 35-nation Concacaf are marked ‘private and confidential’ and not made public. The commissions are listed – but not who gets them. Blazer, whose remuneration is also confidential, signs and presents the accounts to the confederation’s annual conference.
In late May Blazer reported Warner for his role in what appears to be a $1 million plot by Qatar’s Mohamed Bin Hammam to bribe Caribbean nations to support him in the battle with Sepp Blatter for FIFA’s presidency. Warner hurriedly quit FIFA and Bin Hammam will learn his fate later this month. Two other members of FIFA’s executive committee are also under investigation.
There is still shock that Blazer turned against Warner. He sat next to Concacaf president Warner for two decades, appearing to ignore the endless scandals, especially Warner’s industrial-scale World Cup ticket rackets.
Blazer helped install Warner in power at Concacaf in 1990 and in return was appointed general secretary. Blazer’s contract specified that he was hired from one of his private companies, Sportvertising, subsequently domiciled in the Cayman Islands. This company would receive Blazer’s never disclosed salary and crucially, 10% of ‘all sponsorships and TV rights fees from all sources received by Concacaf.’ According to documents obtained by Transparency in Sport, Blazer's payments were channelled offshore to accounts in the name of Sportvertising at Barclays Bank, Grand Cayman, and the First Caribbean International Bank, Bahamas.
‘A majestic symbol of elegance’
Blazer is both chief executive and treasurer, flouting most accepted concepts of good governance. Concacaf’s other officials are seen as weak and in effect the two men have controlled regional football. Blazer says his football hero is former FIFA president João Havelange, ‘a majestic symbol of elegance in our sport.’ Havelange is currently being investigated by the IOC after BBC Panorama alleged that he took a $1 million bribe from a marketing company.
Warner is also president of the Caribbean Football Union, part of Concacaf, and only weeks before the bitter split, happily instructed the usually cash-strapped CFU’s bank to issue a $250,000 bank draft to Blazer.
Concacaf vice-president Lisle Austin from Barbados has attempted to fire Blazer but been turned away from their headquarters in Trump Tower, New York by private security. Blazer, in his mid-sixties, lives in a Trump Tower apartment with his parrot Max and girlfriend Mary Lynn. He is so broad of girth that he cannot fit into the largest of FIFA’s executive saloon cars and has to be transported in a luxury van.
The American press, hopeful that the USA can win control of the Concacaf region, writes admiringly of Blazer, who sports a flowing white ‘Cap’n Birdseye’ beard, as a Father Christmas style character who is ‘gregarious and witty’ and dines in New York’s best restaurants.
During a FIFA marketing dispute in a Manhattan court five years ago the judge ruled that Mr Blazer's testimony was ‘generally without credibility based on his attitude and demeanour and on his evasive answers on cross-examination.’ The judge added that some of his testimony was ‘fabricated.’
Yesterday Mr. Blazer confirmed that he does indeed take these commissions from Concacaf.
Sunday Herald, July 17, 2011