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Chuck Blazer obituary

US football executive and former Fifa official found guilty of racketeering and money-laundering whose testimony blew open Fifa’s corruption scandal

On a bright May morning two years ago, the world was shocked by pictures of top officials of Fifa, the international football federation, being herded away from the luxury Hotel Baur au Lac in Zurich by Swiss police officers, sheltered from the waiting media by hotel staff holding up crisp white bedsheets. The early morning raid and arrests were based on indictments that followed an investigation by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation into corruption in football, an investigation built around the plea-bargained testimony of Chuck Blazer, who has died aged 72 after suffering from cancer.

Blazer, a portly figure with a Santa Claus beard and Harpo Marx haircut, worked his way up from the grassroots of US soccer into the very heart of power in world football. As executive vice-president of the United States Soccer Federation (USSF, or US Soccer), and then general secretary of Concacaf, the confederation governing football in North and Central America and the Caribbean, Blazer had, in the words of the former Major League Soccer commissioner Doug Logan “brought [US] soccer into the modern television age almost single-handedly”.

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