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Blazer reveals World Cup bribes

Disgraced former FIFA official Chuck Blazer has revealed he and others agreed to accept and facilitate bribes as part of the bidding process for the France 1998 and South Africa 2010 World Cups.

Blazer entered a guilty plea to 10 counts, including racketeering conspiracy and tax evasion, in November 2013 – the full details of which have now been made public as the US Department of Justice (USDoJ) continues to investigate allegations of corruption at the top of world football’s governing body.

In his testimony, released on Wednesday, the American told Eastern New York District Court: “During my association with FIFA and CONCACAF, among other things, I and others agreed that I or a co-conspirator would commit at least two acts of racketeering activity.

“Among other things, I agreed with other persons in or around 1992 to facilitate the acceptance of a bribe in conjunction with the selection of the host nation for the 1998 World Cup.

“Beginning in or about 1993 and continuing through the early 2000s, I and others agreed to accept bribes and kickbacks in conjunction with the broadcast and other rights to the 1996, 1998, 2000, 2002, and 2003 Gold Cups.

“Beginning in or around 2004 and continuing through 2011, I and others on the FIFA Executive Committee agreed to accept bribes in conjunction with the selection of South Africa as the host nation for the 2010 World Cup. Among other things, my actions described above had common participants and results.”

A USDoJ indictment issued last week alleged South African officials paid $10million in bribes to secure the global showpiece.

That came as part of a wider investigation that saw 14 people, including nine past and present FIFA officials, indicted on charges of racketeering conspiracy and corruption.

A separate Swiss investigation has also been opened “against persons unknown on suspicion of criminal mismanagement and of money laundering” surrounding the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar, with Reuters claiming on Wednesday that the FBI have now turned their attention to the same issue.

The allegations of potential kickbacks around the 2010 World Cup bid have been met with fierce denials in South Africa.

The country’s minister for sport and recreation, Fikile Mbalula, told a news conference: “We frown upon the allegations that suggest South Africa has paid a bribe. Payment made for approved projects can never be construed as bribery. Any insinuation to the contrary will be met with a rebuke.

“We still need the US authorities to share with us the basis for their allegations. Those who allege should prove their allegations.”

Blazer’s revelations come as the latest twist in the week-long scandal that has engulfed world football – and led to the resignation of FIFA president Sepp Blatter.

The Swiss was elected for a fifth term last week, but on Tuesday announced his intention to step down following intense public scrutiny and criticism of his leadership.

Wed 3 Jun, 2015
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