New York, June 4:
A former director of FIFA who was brought to trial by a New York court confessed in 2013 that he had accepted bribes in exchange for selecting the sites of the World Cup in 1998 and 2010, judicial sources have said.
The testimony of former sports director Charles Gordon Blazer, which was given in a closed court session on November 25, 2013, was released on Wednesday by the court with parts of it redacted by prosecutors, apparently to preserve the confidentiality of their current investigation into corruption within FIFA, reports Efe.
“Chuck” Blazer was the general secretary of football’s North and Central American and Caribbean region (or CONCACAF) from 1990-2011 and served on FIFA’s executive committee from 1997-2013. He was found guilty two years ago on several charges, including racketeering.
In his testimony, Blazer admitted that both he and others had taken a series of bribes starting in 1992 in exchange for deciding on the site of the World Cup in 1998 (which was played in France) and also in 2010, when South Africa beat out Morocco for the football championship.
In the case of the 2010 World Cup, Blazer claimed that the bribes were accepted by him and also by “other” members of FIFA’s executive committee, with the aim of ensuring that South Africa was selected to host the tourney.
Blazer said that as a member of FIFA’s executive committee, one of his responsibilities was to participate in selecting World Cup host countries.
As a CONCACAF official between 1990 and 2011, he also participated in selecting the sites for the Gold Cup tourney organised by that sports organisation every two years.
He said he accepted bribes for his vote on Gold Cup sites in 1996, 1998, 2000, 2002 and 2003.
The transcript of his 2013 testimony had remained sealed by the court that heard the case, but on May 27 representatives of four media outlets in New York asked for it to be unsealed.
The 40 pages of testimony was partially redacted, however, by the judge at the request of prosecutors.
Blazer had read before the court a 19-page document in which he pled guilty to the charges against him, including conspiracy to commit a crime, tax fraud, corruption and taking bribes.
Blazer, in his testimony, said that the irregular payments were made by check and cash transfers from U.S. bank accounts to others in the Caribbean, and vice versa.
He also admitted not declaring the payments he received on his tax returns in New York state, where he lived. (IANS)