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Former FIFA official admits taking bribes for 1998, 2010 World Cups

Peter Kohalmi, AFP I Bearded multimillionaire Chuck Blazer was the face of North American football for two decades

Former high-ranking FIFA official Chuck Blazer has admitted taking bribes during the campaigns to choose host countries for the 1998 and 2010 World Cups, held in France and South Africa respectively, US officials have revealed.

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Prosecutors unsealed a 20-page transcript on Wednesday of the November 2013 hearing in a New York court during which Blazer pleaded guilty to bribe-taking, racketeering and money laundering.

"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," Blazer told US District Judge Raymond J. Dearie.

The face of "soccer" for two decades, Blazer was the No. 2 official of FIFA’s North and Central American and Caribbean affiliate CONCACAF from 1990-2011 and served on FIFA's executive committee from 1997-2013.

He has agreed to cooperate with US investigators in a wide-ranging criminal case that engulfed football’s governing body and led its long-time President Sepp Blatter to announce his resignation on Tuesday.

According to the investigation, South African Football Association president Molefi Oliphant sent a letter to FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke in 2008 asking FIFA to withhold $10 million from the budget of the 2010 World Cup organizers and to use the money to finance a "Diaspora Legacy Programme" under the control of then CONCACAF President Jack Warner.

South Africa Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula denies the money was a bribe and says it was an "above-board payment" to help soccer development in Caribbean region.

Blazer also said he arranged bribes around 1992 in the vote for which country would host the 1998 World Cup. France won the election over Morocco.

(FRANCE 24 with AP)
 

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