Chuck Blazer, key figure in FIFA corruption scandal, dies at 72

Chuck Blazer, key figure in FIFA corruption scandal, dies at 72
Posted at 6:32 AM, Jul 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-13 07:15:17-04

Chuck Blazer, a former FIFA official who helped blow open the United States investigation into corruption in soccer's governing body, has died, according to his lawyer.

He was 72.

Blazer, a large, bearded figure, was involved in US soccer for years. At one point, he was the number two for the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF).

He died at a hospital in New Jersey, according to his lawyer Mary Mulligan.

"During his twenty years as CONCACAF General Secretary, Chuck Blazer was instrumental in bringing the federation into the modern age. His misconduct, for which he accepted full responsibility, should not obscure Chuck's positive impact on international soccer," Mulligan said in an emailed statement to CNN. "He devoted thirty years of his life to soccer at all levels of the game, with his involvement ranging from coaching his children's youth teams to serving on FIFA's executive committee."

Blazer had been in ill health for some time.

At a court hearing in 2013, Blazer told a judge he had rectal cancer and had undergone 20 weeks of chemotherapy at the time, according to an unsealed transcript of the proceedings. He also said he had diabetes and coronary artery disease.

Bruce Arena, the head coach of the US Men's National Team, offered his condolences to Blazer's family, according to the team's Twitter account.

Guilty plea

Reports in 2015 surfaced that Blazer said he didn't even fill out tax forms, yet alone pay them.

Blazer amassed $11 million in unreported income according to Richard Weber, the director of the IRS Criminal Investigation Division at the time, and eventually pleaded guilty to charges including racketeering, wire fraud, money laundering and income tax evasion in 2013. He forfeited nearly $2 million at the time and the US Justice Department said he agreed to pay an undisclosed second amount at the time of sentencing.

FIFA's ethics committee then handed him a lifetime ban.

According to court documents, Blazer's sentencing was scheduled for April of this year, but Mulligan had requested a six-month adjournment.

Blazer's case and the entire investigation sparked renewed scrutiny into corruption at soccer's highest levels. The former head of FIFA, Sepp Blatter, was handed his own ban in 2015.