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Chuck Blazer passes away at 72

Blazer was a controversial figure in soccer, eventually turning informant for the FBI.

CONCACAF Championship - United States v Mexico Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Chuck Blazer, one-time USSF executive vice president, CONCACAF secretary general, and FIFA executive committee member, has passed away at the age of 72. His passing was confirmed by his lawyer to the New York Times.

USSF president Sunil Gulati also confirmed Blazer’s passing via e-mail.

Blazer’s decades-long career in soccer administration eventually ended in disgrace; he began working with the FBI in 2011 to help their investigation into FIFA, followed by some very memorable arrests in Zurich in May 2015 at the behest of then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch. Blazer himself eventually plead guilty to charges that included racketeering, wire fraud, money laundering and income tax evasion.

But until the feds got to him, Blazer lived a lavish lifestyle, funded by bribes and kickbacks. He accumulated something like $21 million from his dealings; perhaps one of the most-cited bits of trivia about his ill-gotten gains was that he reportedly had a second apartment in Trump Tower entirely for his cats. He accepted a $1 million offer to ensure that the 2010 World Cup would go to South Africa (but apparently only ever received $750,000 of it). He put $26 million of CONCACAF expenses on his personal American Express (how many air miles does that get you?). He worked it out so that he apparently took a 10% cut of all the money CONCACAF brought in. There were plenty of other excesses, and long-lasting ripples throughout CONCACAF and FIFA with respect to how business was conducted.

In his final years, Blazer was laid low by illness, perhaps compounded by the stress of a federal investigation and international censure. And in 2015, FIFA imposed a lifetime ban on Blazer, barring him from any soccer-related activity for life. Blazer certainly had a hand in building the game in the United States, but for all that, he also helped make sure that it would be filled with greed and corruption, the effects of which we are still rooting out today.