Chuck Blazer, like many informants, has left a very complicated legacy. On one hand, him being an informant for the FBI to incriminate dozens of FIFA officials for bribery and corruption, leading to the FIFA scandal. On the other hand, he himself committed that same bribery and corruption and that was why the Feds sought him out in the first place.
Blazer, the man infamous for using bribe money to rent out a Trump Tower apartment for his cats, was the subject of a story on HBO’s Real Sports. In an exclusive interview, HBO’s David Scott interviewed Blazer’s companion Mary Lynn Blanks as she shared details of her relationship with Blazer as well as her inside knowledge of the corruption within FIFA.
To say that Blanks’ relationship with Blazer had ups and downs was putting it lightly. The two met over 40 years ago but after a very horrific and violent encounter, Blanks left Blazer and became a soap opera actress. When he became a member of FIFA’s Executive Committee in the late 90’s and exploded to over 400 pounds, Blazer contacted Blanks in 2002 and pretty much begged her to take him back pretty much needing someone to wash him and clothe him because he was too fat to do it himself.
Fearing eviction and needing the money, Blanks took Blazer back and the two would live the high life that was filled with corruption. Blanks herself was pretty much along for the ride and she herself never held any sort of soccer administrative position but she was privy to what was going on.
[link_box id=”23199″ site_id=”158″ layout=”link-box-third” alignment=”alignright”]Blanks described that at any FIFA event, whether it was at a game or in FIFA’s headquarters in Switzerland, Blazer would receive two envelopes with $20,000 each in his hotel room. It wasn’t just Blazer, Blanks detailed that it was pretty much the norm. When asked if that kind of behavior within FIFA was strange, Blanks said, “It seemed to be the normal routine. Everybody did it.” And while not going too much into detail, Blanks named nations like “New Zealand, Australia, Taiwan, France, Germany, England, [South] Africa” to in some detail give Blazer things for various favors.
After years of corruption, the FBI zeroed in on Blazer for jurisdictional reasons and after meeting him outside his apartment one night, easily convinced the person who self described himself as the “fat crook from Queens” to “flip” and become a government agent to incriminate his FIFA friends who were doing the same thing.
While being a target due to his corruption, bribery, racketeering and embezzlement, Blazer did open a door for the FBI into the world of FIFA and pointed out who were also committing illegal acts. After having to carry a listening device on a keychain because he was too fat and too sweaty to wear a wire, Blazer implicated those who were eventually arrested as part of the FIFA scandal back in 2015. At this point, 41 people have been arrested and indicted and 12 people (including Blazer) have pleaded guilty.
The entire piece is a pretty great look into how FIFA operated from probably the person who was the closest who is most likely going to talk. I can’t really blame Blanks for her actions. She benefitted from the lavish lifestyle of Chuck Blazer too but she didn’t really have any sort of position within soccer so it would be tough to lump her into Blazer and those within FIFA. And besides, she had to take a blow dryer to a naked 400 pound Chuck Blazer. I think she earned whatever money she got from him.
One area I wish was explored more by Real Sports was the situation concerning current U.S. Soccer President and FIFA Council member Sunil Gulati. Gulati hasn’t been indicted for anything and he wasn’t on FIFA’s Executive Committee when Blazer was. Gulati in fact replaced Blazer in 2013. So while Gulati seems in the clear on any corruption at this time, Gulati was U.S. Soccer President at the same time as Blazer was a part of FIFA while he was committing these crimes. And that inherent connection has raised doubts from some within soccer about what Gulati did or didn’t know. Maybe Gulati didn’t do anything corrupt himself but did he know that Blazer was, or anyone else in FIFA for that matter? Maybe Real Sports felt it didn’t fit into a piece that was mainly about Blazer and those actually indicted but I think many are curious to know where exactly Gulati fits in this.
Blazer himself is battling colon cancer so depending on how long it takes for the FBI and Justice Department to complete their case, Blazer may not be able to testify or see the inside of a jail cell. In some weird way, Chuck Blazer helped change FIFA. It’s just important to note that he did it to receive a lessor jail sentence for his crimes and not because of some noble cause to make soccer better. But the impact will remain the same, assuming the people currently in charge aren’t doing the same thing.