Chuck Blazer: American Hero

Knee deep as we are in the sordid details of the FIFA World Cup Bribery Extravaganza, combined with the appallingly cynical if not patently ludicrous statements emanating from the candidates for President (Bin Hammam: "There is no corruption in FIFA"; Blatter: "I will fight corruption with every fiber of my being"), waiting for a statement of some kind - any kind - from the USSF and our beloved President Sunil "Ask Jack" Gulati has proven to be a waste of time.

As previously noted, the silence from our federation has been particularly disturbing in light of the fact that the England FA, for one, has not followed suit and is in fact doing all the heavy lifting while the USSF remains too frightened of upsetting a two-bit, tin pot kleptomaniac down in T&T to say a thing.

(The latest from Old Blighty is that they will refuse to hold their noses and vote for either of the two candidates; reportedly, they will abstain. Would that the US had that kind of balls.)

There is, however, one American soccer official who has been willing to go on record in regards to the Sunday Times revelations, and since he's someone who has taken a good deal of guff in this space over the years it's only fair that it be acknowledged.

Thus CONCACAF General Secretary and FIFA Executive Committee member Chuck Blazer who, when asked for a comment replied:

"If it turns out that what they're saying is supported by fact, then I would have a lot to say on the matter".

That's a statement that, if they think he means it, is probably the single most frightening thing his fellows on the ExCo could hear; Chuck knows where the bodies are buried.

That's not to say that Blazer doesn't know perfectly well exactly what happened. He almost certainly does. But knowing and having it splashed across every paper on the planet are two different things.

A few months back I took some serious grief from a few people when I opined that since no one who isn't willing to go along with the way Sepp Blatter and Jack Warner operate could ever hope to achieve the positions that Blazer currently occupies, then we're better off at least having an American (and a former USSF Vice President) in those offices than someone else.

That doesn't mean that I'm not offended when Andrew Jennings writes that he learned that CONCACAAF was banning him from their Congress when he was met at the door by Melvin Brennan (described by Jennings as "Chuck Blazers' muscle) and told "Chuck says you can't come in".

Or that it doesn't bother me that a Federal judge announced that Blazers' testimony in the FIFA/Mastercard lawsuit "lacked credibility", or that he didn't know that Warner tried to buy off the T&T players by giving them token checks drawn on a CONCACAF account in a Miami bank, or a dozen other things, including the fact that it was Blazer who approached Warner and talked him into running for the job in the first place.

Indeed, sources in England claim that he was one of the men who promised them his vote less than an hour before checking the box next to "Russia 2018".

And it's impossible to forget that although he had some very strong words to say after the US got the naked shaft last December he quickly backtracked and said he had spoken out of passion, please forget it, I didn't mean it.

At the same time, it's also impossible to forget the now-legendary day when he walked into an MLS Board of Governors meeting and Anschutz, Hunt, Kraft and everyone else gave him a standing ovation. No one else - probably not even another ExCo member - could have gotten FIFA to reject MLS-loathing NBCs' $350 million bid for World Cup TV rights simply by telling them "I can do better", whereupon he came back and, along with SUM, cut the whopping $450 million ESPN/Galavision deal which was a pivotal moment - maybe THE pivotal moment - in the leagues' history.

It's important to keep in mind that while virtually the entire ExCo has now been publicly accused of lining their pockets in one way or another in return for their vote, not a single whiff of the slime has ever been directed Blazers' way.

That may be due - partially at least - to Blazers' unique position within FIFA: he's the only Executive Committee member who isn't also President of a Federation or Confederation. He has no natural constituency beyond Jack Warner. CONCACAF elects him because Warner tells them to. If Warner told them to elect Britney Spears or Peter Pan or his wifes' Pomeranian purse puppy, they'd do that too. They could care less.

But most of the money which gets passed around is ostensibly for "development projects" for the members' home country. The fact that little of that cash was ever likely to find it's way to a soccer facility or a bag of balls - at least one of them is accused of asking to have the money deposited directly to his personal account - is beside the point; it's just the protocol of the process, and is the fig leaf that they all hide behind:

"Maybe I did take money but it was for the children."

But Blazer can't say "I need a million bucks to build a soccer field in Chicago". No one would be able to keep a straight face and the deniability wouldn't help him. Bribing him would have to be naked and ugly.

The other part part of the equation is that, as we all know, Blazer votes as Warner votes and thus the buck stops - quite literally - at Jack Warners' bank account. Not that he's Warners' stooge. They're partners.

And in fairness it has to be said that, frankly, Blazer probably couldn't be bribed anyway, for a number of reasons, starting with the fact that he has plenty of money and, anyway, as a US citizen it's hard to figure out how to list "Bribes from Qataris" on your 1040.

The real danger for FIFA however isn't that Blazer might have some harsh things to say. They've all heard lots of them lately.

Rather, what ought to be keeping them up at night is the thought that Blazer, as an ExCo member, has the standing to submit a proposal for a re-vote on the 2022 World Cup venue. His partner Jack Warner surely won't object. He'd prefer that the US hold it as well.

What's more, he could do it without accusing Warner of anything, which he would never do anyway.

But he can say that the vote is hopelessly tainted and demand a do-over without naming anyone directly.

Blazer was genuinely unhappy about the vote and felt the US got screwed; there's no doubt about that.

And depending on the evidence England is presenting to FIFA this week - they've also hired a distinguished jurist to review what they have and express an opinion - there just might be an opening here.

Blatter said this week that he wants the whole thing resolved before the election. If it comes back as dirty as we think it will, it's going to be hard for either him or Bin Hammam to claim that a re-vote isn't called for.

Even more interesting is the fact that Warner has refused to announce who CONCACAF will be voting for on June 1 and it's well known that Jack hasn't gotten anything he's asked for lately.

Could this be the price of those 35 votes?

If so, it's one that Blatter would gladly pay - he fought against the Qatar vote from the beginning and was openly unhappy when they won.

It's a pretty long shot but at the same time Blazer is someone of consequence, he's got Warner behind him, and Blatter would love to stick it to Qatar and Bin Hammam at one stroke.

And if something like this were to happen, Blazer will get a whole lot more standing ovations.