By Bill Archer on Jul 13, 2017 at 9:52 AM
  1. Bill Archer

    Bill Archer BigSoccer Supporter

    Mar 19, 2002
    Washington, NC
    Club:
    Columbus Crew
    Country:
    United States
    #1 Bill Archer, Jul 13, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2017

    Chuck

    By Bill Archer on Jul 13, 2017 at 9:52 AM
    The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.

    November 19, 1989 was the day US Soccer was born.

    As we all teach our children, that was the day when an unknown American kid named Paul Caligiuri stunned the soccer universe with "The Shot Heard Round the World" down in Port of Spain Trinidad, putting the US into the World Cup for the first time in 40 years.

    But as big as Caligiuris' improbable goal was, two other significant things happened that day which had an equal, or even greater, influence on the future of the sport in the US and the world.

    The first came about when little-known T&TFA President Jack Warner, noting the huge demand for tickets to the game, ordered the printer to fire up the Linotype machines and crank out another 20,000 ducats in addition to the 35,000 already ordered which, not unreasonably, was the capacity of old National Stadium.

    The extra tickets were eagerly snatched up by local fans who then ended up standing outside the stadium at kickoff. It was the first recorded large scale open theft orchestrated by Uncle Jack, a prelude, if you will, to bigger things to come.

    Yet neither incident can match the long term significance of what happened after the match, when an obscure USSF Vice President named Chuck Blazer drove his rental car over to Warner's house for a meeting which, reportedly, lasted well into the wee hours.

    At that meeting, Blazer laid out a plan through which Warner could become President of CONCACAF, something which he apparently had never seriously considered. The President at the time was Mexico's Joaquin Soria Terrazas, who had held the job for 20 years and seemed a shoe in for re-election at the Congress scheduled for the following year.

    Blazer was the first person to recognize the power that a motley collection of Caribbean FA's - some of whose existence was more or less notional at best - could exercise over the North and Central Americans who figured CONCACAF belonged to them.

    Terrazas was as shocked as anyone when Warner and Blazer strode into the hall, announced Jack's candidacy, handily won the election and proceeded to take over the Confederation, a dominance which lasted until the day Blazer got a phone call in his Trump Tower office from a Caribbean FA President about an envelope with $40,000 in it.

    Which in turn began the slow motion downfall of not just Warner and Blazer but virtually all of the FIFA power structure; there's a straight line between the sandbagging of Terrazas and the paddy wagon outside the Baur au Lac Hotel, and that line is Charles Gordon "Chuck" Blazer.

    Last year, a couple of cheap hack tabloid writers from New York put out a book titled American Huckster, which purports to be the definitive dirt-dishing on Blazer and his nefarious career. As your faithful servant, as was the case when FIFA finally released the 450 page pile of rubbish known as The Garcia Report, I dutifully read every stinking word of it.

    As bad as Garcia is - and it's utter crap - it pales next to Huckster.

    First of all, a "huckster" is defined as a peddler of small things, a guy going door-to-door with a sack full of questionable goods to sell to the unsophisticated. Which is exactly the opposite of what Chuck Blazer was. The man dealt in big concepts, big ideas and big money.

    Secondly, the book itself consists of a) a bunch of stuff which is widely known not the least because I myself have written about it all repeatedly, b) a long, not particularly intelligent retelling of all the tales of FIFA corruption for the last 30 years, the vast majority of which has nothing to do with Blazer at all and c) a bunch of embarrassing personal details provided by his long time live-in girlfriend, failed actress Mary Lynn Blanks.

    [​IMG]

    To the latter I can only say that if all the nasty details of caring for the personal hygiene needs of a 450 pound man were so repulsive to you, you should have left. Except that you loved the private planes, the 5 star hotels, the clothes, the jewels and the hobnobbing with the rich and famous. The only problem is that the gravy train stopped and you had to get off, so you ran off to a tabloid reporter in an effort to purge your conscience.

    I only bring up this piece of trash because Huckster represents the picture of Chuck Blazer that will surely persist long after everything else is forgotten.

    Over the years, your faithful correspondent has been accused of soft-peddling the various misdeeds of the enigma that was Chuck Blazer. I can only respond that pointing out the good along with the bad isn't bias, it's just telling the truth.

    And the truth is that the current success of soccer in the US is due, in large part, to Chuck Blazer.

    When Warner and Blazer took over CONCACAF in 1990, it consisted of one long folding table, some folding chairs and a telephone in a cheap rented office space. There was less than $40,000 in the bank.

    CONCACAF didn't even have a qualifying process; they used the Confederation Championship tournament to select the 2 teams for the World Cup (Caligiuris' goal put the US into second place behind winner Costa Rica).

    So Warner went to work stealing while Blazer set out to build CONCACAF into a world soccer power. It's worth noting that when it all came crashing down some 20 years later, CONCACAF was a $40 million a year enterprise.

    The Gold Cup, the Hex and the Champions League were all Blazer's creations, along with much, much else.

    Yet as large as those contributions were, they pale in comparison to his contribution to making MLS what it is today.

    At an ExCo meeting in Zurich in 2005, the Media Committee presented for approval a contract with NBC for US TV rights for the next 2 World Cups. The hundreds of millions of dollars offered was more than that bunch of greedy thugs had ever dreamed of gleaning from American TV and they were anxious to grab it.

    Blazer asked them to table it, saying that he could do better. Somewhat reluctantly, they agreed, mostly because they knew he was both a brilliant negotiator and a man of his word.

    So Chuck flew back to New York, sat down with John Skipper at ESPN and put together a deal which included the hitherto unsellable MLS broadcast rights in the deal.

    It got MLS on national TV, put millions of dollars into the pockets of a league which was still struggling financially and made everybody a fortune. At the next MLS Board of Governors meeting, Blazer was given a standing ovation and the Commissioners Award. It's not an exaggeration that this one act pushed MLS ahead by at least ten years, laid the groundwork for SUM and started the league down the road to it's current explosive growth.

    [​IMG]

    You might also note that there wasn't a single dime in it for him personally. When it came to US Soccer, there never was.

    That the man played fast and loose with world footballs' money is beyond dispute. Everybody was grabbing and he grabbed too.

    Still, as I have written many times in the past, unlike the rest of FIFA's crooks, no one can point to a single time when he took a bribe from anyone for anything. Rather, Blazer maintained a thin veneer of legality for everything he did by claiming that his contract gave him 10% of everything CONCACAF did.

    Which was a good and valid concept when CONCACAF was doing $40,000 a year out of a cheesy office in Central America. They couldn't afford a salary anyway. A commission was the only way to pay him and 10% was, if anything, a little light.

    20 years on, with the Confederation clipping along at $40,000,000 a year, it was ludicrous. He took advantage, he tried to stash the money in shell corporations, he monumentally abused his unlimited and unmonitored expense account and he piled on personal perks - cars, apartments, even a vacation place in Aruba - well past the point of decency.

    It was gluttony of the worst kind, entirely in keeping with a 450 pound man who lavishly entertained nightly at Manhattans most exclusive and elegant eateries, which he reached while riding a mobility scooter because he was too fat to walk.

    That's the enigma of Chuck Blazer; the larger than life Falstaffian character whose warmth, charm and personal charisma, combined with a brilliant business mind and a keen eye for the main chance who for years flew with the famous and the great and the noble, basking in great wealth and power, but who died an ugly, painful, lonely death in a hospital in New Jersey, broke, virtually friendless and certain that the good and positive things he accomplished along the way are buried under the stories of an apartment for some cats and a sleazy tell-all betrayal from the woman he loved.

    I'm not making excuses for the man. He was who he was and the facts speak for themselves. He didn't apologize and I'm not going to do it for him. He was a complicated man who made his choices.

    But, like it or not, Chuck Blazer was utterly loyal to soccer in the US and contributed as much or more to it's progress than anyone else living or dead.

    And I don't mind at all being the one person today who's willing to say "Thanks Chuck".
     
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Comments

Discussion in 'Articles' started by Bill Archer, Jul 13, 2017.

    1. AndyMead

      AndyMead Homo Sapien

      Nov 2, 1999
      Seat 12A
      Club:
      Sporting Kansas City

      Chuck

      By Bill Archer on Jul 13, 2017 at 9:52 AM
      Well written, Bill.

      Was the Skipper meeting in 2006 or 2000? I remember MLS being bundled into the 2002 WC rights. And, to be fair, InterLiga and the relocated WWC2003 had much to do with the successful launching of SUM as anything.

      My Chuck Blazer story is thus:

      I attended the 2002 Gold Cup at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. Two groups played three sets of doubleheaders. The other two groups were in Miami at the Orange Bowl.

      Checking the dates on Wikipedia, tells me the date was January 20, 2002 - I was still a writer, not yet a photographer. I was riding the elevator up to the press box. Chuck Blazer was with me. He had just flown in from the previous day's games in Miami and was looking a little worse from the travel. In the preceding matches Haiti had beaten Ecuador 2-0 and Canada had beaten Haiti 2-0.

      After he had said something about the games the night before, I said something about how crazy it would be if Ecuador beat Canada 2-0 tomorrow. He glared at me.

      The following day, Ecuador beat Canada 2-0. All three teams were tied 1-1 with a 0 GD and 2 goals scored.

      I found out the reason for the glare. Blazer had to fly back to Miami just to flip a coin to see which of the three teams was eliminated.

      I ran across Chuck many times over the ensuing years, but that was probably the longest conversation we had.
       
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    2. Pablo Chicago

      Pablo Chicago Member+

      Sep 7, 2005
      Sweet Home Chicago
      Club:
      Chicago Fire
      Country:
      United States

      Chuck

      By Bill Archer on Jul 13, 2017 at 9:52 AM
      ...and Newsweek calls him U.S. Soccer's great villain. Can hardly wait to hear what Warner has to say about the recently departed.
       
    3. Paul Calixte

      Paul Calixte Moderator
      Staff Member

      Orlando City SC
      Apr 30, 2009
      Miami, FL
      Club:
      Orlando City SC
      Country:
      United States

      Chuck

      By Bill Archer on Jul 13, 2017 at 9:52 AM
      I eagerly await the South African Bill Archer's paean to Sepp Blatter when he passes away...
       
      afgrijselijkheid repped this.
    4. Mateofelipe

      Mateofelipe Member+

      Mar 10, 2001
      Spokane, WA
      Club:
      Seattle Sounders
      Country:
      United States

      Chuck

      By Bill Archer on Jul 13, 2017 at 9:52 AM
      And NPR had him down as the whistle blower who exposed FIFA corruption. They are still at around Frank Deford-level soccer sophistication.
       
    5. Roger Allaway

      Roger Allaway Member+

      Apr 22, 2009
      Warminster, Pa.
      Club:
      Philadelphia Union
      Country:
      United States

      Chuck

      By Bill Archer on Jul 13, 2017 at 9:52 AM
      Paul Caligiuri's goal, as great a turning point as it was for American soccer, didn't stun the soccer universe, nor was it heard 'round the world. In centers of the soccer world like London, Rome and Buenos Aires, they probably heard (if they looked far enough down the newspaper page) that one CONCACAF minnow had upset another CONCACAF minnow, but did they care?
       
    6. BalanceUT

      BalanceUT RSL and THFC!

      Oct 8, 2006
      Appalachia
      Club:
      Real Salt Lake
      Country:
      United States

      Chuck

      By Bill Archer on Jul 13, 2017 at 9:52 AM
      Bill, maybe you should write the definitive biography of Chuck Blazer. I'm not joking. I hope you are working on it right now.
       
    7. Neubill

      Neubill Member

      Jan 26, 2005
      Southern Kelehfornya
      #8 Neubill, Jul 13, 2017
      Last edited: Jul 13, 2017

      Chuck

      By Bill Archer on Jul 13, 2017 at 9:52 AM
    8. xbhaskarx

      xbhaskarx Member+

      Feb 13, 2010
      NorCal
      Club:
      San Jose Earthquakes
      Country:
      United States

      Chuck

      By Bill Archer on Jul 13, 2017 at 9:52 AM
      It was in 2006:

      http://www.sportsbusinessdaily.com/Journal/Issues/2010/06/20100607/SBJ-In-Depth/Trail-Blazer.aspx

      Together, they started clapping. Philip Anschutz. Bob Kraft. Tim Leiweke. Clark Hunt.

      When MLS Commissioner Don Garber introduced CONCACAF General Secretary and FIFA executive committee member Chuck Blazer at a 2006 MLS board of governors meeting, the room swelled with applause. And while no one can remember who started it, everyone can remember why it began.​

      At a FIFA executive committee meeting months earlier, Blazer had stood up and asked his FIFA colleagues not to approve a $350 million bid from NBC for the 2010 and 2014 World Cup rights. Granting NBC the rights, he argued, would hurt soccer’s exposure in the U.S. because NBC wouldn’t televise MLS or other international competition.

      Blazer asked for a few weeks to find an alternative, not because he had insider knowledge that a higher bid was in the works, but simply a hunch that other networks would offer a better deal.

      Blazer worked with Garber to eventually put together a deal for Univision and ESPN to buy the rights for $325 million and $100 million, respectively.

      This Friday, both broadcasters will televise the first game of the 2010 World Cup, and they have Blazer to thank for it. He changed the way the nation will watch the World Cup and established himself as the most important and influential American in sports’ most global game.​



      https://www.buzzfeed.com/kenbensing...built-and-bilk?utm_term=.sm2o4qrGG#.jd8Mbanzz

      A quarter-century later, American soccer has become an athletic and economic powerhouse, due substantially to the contributions of Blazer. He helped win Major League Soccer’s first real TV contract, and just last month the MLS inked a $720 million TV deal. ...​

      Blazer’s influence wasn’t limited to these shores: He helped organize the Gold Cup, the Confederations Cup, and the Club World Cup, lucrative tournaments that improved the play of national and professional teams around the world. He also became the first American in almost half a century on the executive committee of FIFA, instilling a business-first culture in world soccer’s governing body and persuading it to take control of its own television rights, turning the money-losing organization into a profit machine.​
       
    9. Cavan9

      Cavan9 Member

      Nov 16, 2011
      Silver Spring, MD
      Club:
      DC United
      Country:
      United States

      Chuck

      By Bill Archer on Jul 13, 2017 at 9:52 AM
      Thank you for the balanced take on a man who had a very mixed record of accomplishments. It's good that you pointed out the late Mr. Blazer's successes and mistakes together. They are only properly understood as part of his entire body of work.
       
      song219 repped this.
    10. GunnerJacket

      GunnerJacket Moderator
      Staff Member

      Sep 18, 2003
      Gainesville, GA
      Club:
      Arsenal FC

      Chuck

      By Bill Archer on Jul 13, 2017 at 9:52 AM
      It can be tough to see more than one side to people, especially larger than life personalities whose public personas were quite established. With modern technology and 24/7/365 exposure we feel so enabled and just in our judgmental ways that often we can forget or miss the full picture.

      Your balanced take is much appreciated, and well written. Thank you.
       
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    11. Mateofelipe

      Mateofelipe Member+

      Mar 10, 2001
      Spokane, WA
      Club:
      Seattle Sounders
      Country:
      United States

      Chuck

      By Bill Archer on Jul 13, 2017 at 9:52 AM
      Like its namesake event, the significance of that goal to the larger world came into relief much later. It's the shot that eventually got heard around the world.
       
      Cavan9 repped this.
    12. zaqualung

      zaqualung Member

      Jun 17, 2015
      San Francisco
      Club:
      Liverpool FC

      Chuck

      By Bill Archer on Jul 13, 2017 at 9:52 AM
      His entire body of work. Well put.....

      what a hoot....
       
    13. JG

      JG Member+

      Jun 27, 1999

      Chuck

      By Bill Archer on Jul 13, 2017 at 9:52 AM
      Don't know about the worldwide media, but the Guardian actually had David Lacey in Port of Spain covering the match:
      http://www.ttfootballhistory.com/node/3246

      A couple years earlier Sports Illustrated had done a long profile of Caligiuri where they spelled his name "Caligari" throughout the entire article, so pretty much anything was progress.
       
    14. Roger Allaway

      Roger Allaway Member+

      Apr 22, 2009
      Warminster, Pa.
      Club:
      Philadelphia Union
      Country:
      United States

      Chuck

      By Bill Archer on Jul 13, 2017 at 9:52 AM
      Something tells me that the reason why a British newspaper staffed the game didn't have much to do with the United States or with the game itself. My guess would be that the reason he was there was to cover the celebrations in a British Commonwealth nation that had never before qualified for the World Cup, and that he sat there during the game watching a good story go down the drain.
       
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    15. JG

      JG Member+

      Jun 27, 1999

      Chuck

      By Bill Archer on Jul 13, 2017 at 9:52 AM
      Personally I assumed it was mainly an excuse for a Caribbean vacation in the midst of a season of rainy afternoons in Luton and Nottingham, but nevertheless, it got covered.
       
    16. Paul Calixte

      Paul Calixte Moderator
      Staff Member

      Orlando City SC
      Apr 30, 2009
      Miami, FL
      Club:
      Orlando City SC
      Country:
      United States

      Chuck

      By Bill Archer on Jul 13, 2017 at 9:52 AM
      Too bad he missed out on the better story of the ticket scandal...
       
    17. TVBIZ

      TVBIZ Member

      Mar 16, 2004

      Chuck

      By Bill Archer on Jul 13, 2017 at 9:52 AM
      Bill - I knew Chuck Blazer from his days in the late 1980's when he helped form the ASL after the demise of the NASL. I dealt with him as a Concacaf TV rights holder and there is no doubt he was instrumental in the growth of US Soccer. However, you state above that he did not directly take bribes but per his plea deal he admitted taking bribes in the vote for the SA World Cup - https://www.theguardian.com/football/2015/jun/03/fifa-chuck-blazer-bribes-world-cup. That's not something that can be overlooked like his creative accounting in expenses and 10% commission.

      In addition, i can state from experience that his awarding of certain Concacaf rights was not in the best interest of "growing" the game in the US but in the best interest of Chuck's bank account.

      The good he did should be part of his legacy but his greed kept him doing so much more.
       
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    18. Pablo Chicago

      Pablo Chicago Member+

      Sep 7, 2005
      Sweet Home Chicago
      Club:
      Chicago Fire
      Country:
      United States

      Chuck

      By Bill Archer on Jul 13, 2017 at 9:52 AM
      Jack Warner's response when asked about Blazer's death, "I have nothing to say about that".
       
    19. Cavan9

      Cavan9 Member

      Nov 16, 2011
      Silver Spring, MD
      Club:
      DC United
      Country:
      United States

      Chuck

      By Bill Archer on Jul 13, 2017 at 9:52 AM
      I guess we should be thankful that he has nothing to day as that's about as high of a road that Uncle Jack is capable of taking. Remember that this is a guy who, when asked about his thievery by a journalist said something along the lines of "I spit on your mother."

      Further, nobody really wants to hear what angry, bitter old crook like Uncle Jack has to say about anybody.
       
    20. tonybluehose

      tonybluehose Member

      Aug 20, 2008
      Atlanta
      Club:
      DC United
      Country:
      United States

      Chuck

      By Bill Archer on Jul 13, 2017 at 9:52 AM
      Bill Archer, Speaker for the Dead. Eat your heart out, Orson Scott Card.
       
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    21. zaqualung

      zaqualung Member

      Jun 17, 2015
      San Francisco
      Club:
      Liverpool FC

      Chuck

      By Bill Archer on Jul 13, 2017 at 9:52 AM
      Yes - tough it is .... I had the devil's time with Stalin and Gilles De Rais. I gues the moral of the story from Billy-boy is to just stop fixating .....
      ;)
      Wash 'em all off (th esins). Unplug the bathtub and fill er up again - well, I suppose in Chuck's case the tub would already be full, so there's that existential problem also.....
       
    22. JYDA

      JYDA Member

      Sep 10, 2003

      Chuck

      By Bill Archer on Jul 13, 2017 at 9:52 AM
      https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/2093238/chuck-blazer-indictment.pdf

      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.

      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 faciitate the acceptance of a bribe
      in conjunction
      with the selection of the host nation for the 1998 World Cup.

      Beginning in or about 1993 and continuing through the early
      2000s, I and others agreed to accept bribes and kickbacks in
      conj unction with the broadcast and other rights to the 1996,
      1998, 2000, 2002, and 2003 Gold Cups. Beginning in or around
      2004 and continuing through 2011
      ,
      I and others on the FIFA executive committee agreed to accept bribes in conjunction
      with the selection of South Africa as the host nation for the 2010 World Cup. Among other things, my actions described
      above had common participants and results.

      Between April of 2004 and May 2011 ,
      I and others who
      were fiduciaries to both FIFA and C0NCACAF, in contravention
      of our duties, I and others, while acting in our official
      capacities, agreed to participate in a scheme to defraud FIFA
      and CONCACAF of the right to honest services by taking
      undisclosed bribes
      . I and others agreed to use e-mail,
      telephone, and a wjre transfer into and out of the United
      States in furtherance of the scheme. Funds procured through
      these improper payments passed through JFK Airport in the form
      of a check.

      Between December 2008 and May 2011 ,
      I and others
      agreed to and transmitted funds by wi re transfer and checks
      from
      places within the United States to places in the
      Caribbean, and from
      places in the Caribbean to places in the
      United States. I agreed to and took these actions to, among
      other things, promote and conceal my receipt of bribes and
      kickbacks. I knew that the funds involved were the proceeds
      of an unlawful bribe, and I and others used wires, e-mails,
      and te1 ephone to effectuate payment of and conceal the nature
      of the bribe. Funds procured through these improper payments
      passed through JFK Airport in the form of a check.
      Regarding Counts Four through Nine.
      Between 2005 and 2010, while a resident of New York,
      New York, I knowingly and willfully failed to file an income
      tax return and failed to pay income taxes. In this way, I
      intentionally concealed my true income from the IRS, thereby
      defrauding the IRS of income tax owed. I knew that my actions
      were wrong at the time.

       
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    23. JYDA

      JYDA Member

      Sep 10, 2003

      Chuck

      By Bill Archer on Jul 13, 2017 at 9:52 AM
      Good idea. There's a dearth of soccer books in the fiction section these days.
       
    24. JYDA

      JYDA Member

      Sep 10, 2003

      Chuck

      By Bill Archer on Jul 13, 2017 at 9:52 AM
      It's easy to be "balanced" when you straight up lie about the man's crimes.
       

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