FIFA issues Blazer with provisional ban

FIFA has provisionally banned outgoing Executive Committee member Chuck Blazer from all football-related activities for 90 days, with the move coming just weeks after the former Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) general secretary was accused of allegedly enriching himself at the expense of the continental body.

The American official, who has previously said he will depart from his Executive Committee position when his term expires this month, found himself at the centre of a CONCACAF Integrity Committee investigation into the conduct of himself and former president Jack Warner. The CONCACAF report alleged that Blazer misappropriated at least US$15 million in “compensation payments” from the Confederation during the time he served as general secretary. The report stated Blazer concealed his unauthorised compensation payments from the CONCACAF Executive Committee through “incomplete disclosures” in CONCACAF’s budgets and financial statements and by falsely representing that the financial statements were independently audited, when Blazer knew that in fact they were not. Blazer is also alleged to misappropriated CONCACAF assets to finance his personal lifestyle, including investments in properties in New York, Miami and the Bahamas. The report stated Blazer “enriched himself for many years at CONCACAF’s expense”. Finally, Blazer was described as “entirely negligent” for failing to file income tax returns for CONCACAF in the United States which led to the body losing its tax-exempt status as a non-profit organisation. The report detailed misuse of funding from the late 1990s.

FIFA on Monday stated that the chairman of the adjudicatory chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee, Hans-Joachim Eckert, decided to provisionally ban Blazer “based on the fact that various breaches of the FIFA Code of Ethics appear to have been committed by Chuck Blazer and that a decision on the main issue could not be taken early enough”. FIFA added in a statement: “The investigatory chamber of the Ethics Committee previously opened investigation proceedings against Chuck Blazer in response to the final report of the CONCACAF Integrity Committee. The CONCACAF general secretary, Enrique Sanz, asked FIFA to assume jurisdiction in “view of the serious alleged misconduct” and the implications for FIFA.”

FIFA whistleblower Blazer in February confirmed he would not seek re-election for a fifth term on the Executive Committee of world football’s governing body. The announcement came after Blazer resigned as secretary general of CONCACAF in October 2011. The American stepped down after his bribery accusations against former CONCACAF president Warner and ex-Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president Mohamed bin Hammam triggered FIFA’s anti-corruption crusade. Blazer said that Warner and Bin Hammam attempted to bribe Caribbean Football Union (CFU) officials with US$40,000 each to vote for Bin Hammam in the FIFA presidential election.