United States prosecutors have released a plea agreement made with former FIFA executive Chuck Blazer. It shows Blazer secretly fed authorities information in a corruption probe for almost two years.
The cooperation agreement between Blazer and the US Attorney's Office in Brooklyn, New York - which was signed in November 2013 - was made public Monday following a ruling by a federal judge.
It outlined deals between Blazer and US authorities which went back as far as December 2011 - including agreements for the soccer functionary to turn over documents to investigators, participate in undercover activities and testify at trial - in exchange for more leniencies at sentencing.
Media outlets had requested to reveal the document following the May indictment of nine current and former FIFA officials as well as five corporate executives in a US probe into corruption in world soccer's governing body.
Federal prosecutors had opposed making Blazer's agreement public, arguing it would prejudice the investigation and jeopardize the witness' safety. However, that argument was rejected by the judge, Raymond Dearie, who said prosecutors had failed to meet their "high burden" to keep the document sealed.
"The nature of Blazer's cooperation – at least to the extent expressed in his cooperation agreement – should be removed from the shadows," Dearie wrote in a ruling released Monday.
Cooperation and guilty pleas
The agreement included that Blazer would "participate in undercover activities pursuant to the specific instructions of law enforcement agents or this office."
In exchange, authorities said they would not recommend a specific sentence for his crimes and accepted what would amount to a significant reduction in jail time. Blazer secretly pleaded guilty to 10 charges including wire fraud and money laundering in November 2013. The maximum jail sentences for the counts could have added up to 100 years.
Blazer, now aged 70 and reported to be in poor health, had been a member of FIFA's executive committee from 1997 to 2013 and was general secretary of CONCACAF, soccer's governing body in North and Central America and the Caribbean, from 1990 to 2011.
According to US officials, his cooperation helped build a complex corruption case that has led to charges against top FIFA figures and prompted FIFA President Sepp Blatter to announce he would step down – just days after his re-election.
Handshake initiative canned
In another blow to FIFA's prestige, the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo has said it's ending its cooperation with the organization in the "Handshake for Peace" initiative. Blatter had been an enthusiastic supporter of the campaign.
se/jil (AP, Reuters, AFP)