Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn on Wednesday unsealed a transcript of the plea proceedings of Chuck Blazer, a former FIFA executive committee member who pleaded guilty to bribery, helping the Justice Department build its blockbuster corruption case against soccer's governing body.
At the November 2013 proceeding, Blazer waived his right to trial and pleaded guilty to the 10-count indictment. While under oath, Blazer divulged the details of his and other co-conspirators' racketeering schemes that he engaged in while occupying powerful positions in the world of international soccer.
"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," Blazer said.
While France ended up hosting the 1998 World Cup, recently unsealed indictments suggest Blazer is referring to a bribe paid by the Morocco organizing committee.
Balzer also told prosecutors that, dating back as far as 1993, he and others "agreed to accept bribes and kickbacks" in conjunction with the broadcast and other rights to the Gold Cups in 1996, 1998, 2000, 2002, and 2003.
Then, beginning around 2004, Blazer said he and other FIFA executive committee members agreed to accept bribes in conjunction with the selection of South Africa over Egypt and Morocco as the host nation for the 2010 World Cup.
According to prosecutors, a $10-million payment made to an organization led by Blazer's higher-up, former FIFA official Jack Warner, was a bribe from South Africa’s Football Association to not vote for Egypt or Morocco.
In addition to admitting to his crimes, Blazer discussed his poor health inside the New York courtroom.
"Personally, I have rectal cancer. I am being treated. I have gone through 20 weeks of chemotherapy, and I am looking pretty good for that. I am now in the process of radiation, and the prognosis is good," Blazer said.
He added that he also suffers from Type 2 diabetes, coronary artery disease, and is confined to a wheelchair.
The transcript was unsealed a week after U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced nine FIFA officials and five corporate executives were indicted for corruption. Four more people — including Blazer — and two corporations were charged and previously pleaded guilty.
The indictments delivered a shock to the world's most popular sport. Days later, FIFA's powerful president, Sepp Blatter, was re-elected but subsequently said he would step down in several months. And it was reported on Wednesday that the FBI was investigating Russia and Qatar's winning World Cup bids.
The transcript was at the time heavily redacted. After Blazer admitted he'd received bribes, the judge asked him, "Is there anything else?" What appears to be Blazer's response is blocked out. There's also a section blocked out during Blazer's lawyer's a discussion of his $10 million bond and a section of the judge discussing a 2014 court date.
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Tom Namako is the deputy news director for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
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