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  • When you think about people who shaped the World Cup,

  • Pele or Maradona may spring to mind.

  • But how about Chuck Blazer, the American former FIFA executive who admitted to taking heaps of bribes?

  • Partly as a result of Blazer's testimony,

  • and the wiretaps he wore, sweeping international investigations have led to

  • the arrest and conviction of dozens of corrupt soccer officials, including Blazer himself.

  • That’s Ken Bensinger, an author and investigative journalist who wrote this book on the scandal.

  • In May 2015, Swiss police raided a five-star hotel in Zurich

  • and arrested top executives from the International Federation of Association Football, or FIFA.

  • The World Cup, and soccer in general, had become such big business

  • that executives were being offered huge bribes to help ensure certain companies won media contracts -

  • or to vote for a particular country to host the World Cup.

  • Blazer had done particularly well from his dodgy dealings.

  • He reportedly bought himself: A $900,000 beachside condo in the Bahamas,

  • two South Beach apartments, a hummer, hundreds of first class flights to and from Europe

  • and a suite in Trump Tower for himself and another reportedly just for his pets.

  • But like Al Capone, Blazer's undoing was tax evasion.

  • He struck a deal with the FBI and provided live information for a year and a half

  • while still on FIFA's all-powerful executive committee, known as Ex-Co.

  • They were the two dozen or so men who decided, in secret, who gets to hold the World Cup -

  • a decision with billions of dollars in media rights and infrastructure projects hanging on it.

  • Blazer alleged that the vote to give South Africa the 2010 World Cup was rigged.

  • He also took part in the most contentious decisions of all:

  • a double vote in 2010 that handed this year's event to Russia

  • and the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, a tiny but rich gulf state with little soccer pedigree.

  • Swiss, U.S. and French prosecutors are still investigating allegations of bribery surrounding those votes.

  • Of the Ex-Co members from 2010, most are now either banned from soccer or facing investigation.

  • In the U.S., some $300 million from around two dozen guilty parties has been collected so far.

  • Six of them former Ex-Co members, including Blazer.

  • Blazer pleaded guilty to 10 corruption charges. But he died in 2017 before sentencing.

  • As part of a clean-up operation to restore credibility, FIFA removed the power to award World Cups from the Ex-Co

  • and handed it to its 200 or so national members.

  • In June, FIFA's members chose the U.S., Canada and Mexico to host the 2026 tournament.

When you think about people who shaped the World Cup,

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How a Bribe-Taking Informant Changed the World Cup

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/03/07
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