A series of US indictments that brought Fifa to its knees reportedly began with an investigation into global football match-fixing. American federal agents ultimately descended on US soccer official Chuck Blazer — the man who would turn super snitch — while probing suspicions from Fifa's head of security Chris Eaton that a system of football match-fixing may have tainted the US Gold Cup in 2011, ESPN reports.
Eaton told Der Spiegel in an interview that Interpol, Fifa and Concacaf (Fifa's regional association representing North and Central America and the Caribbean) were investigating the suspect games the summer of 2011.
That was when FBI agent Jared Randall reached out to Blazer, Concacaf's 450-pound general secretary, to feel him out about the matches. Ultimately, there wasn't a word about fixed matches in the US indictments that eventually named 41 soccer officials and executives of sports marketing companies. But the increased scrutiny of Concacaf and Chuck Blazer turned up information that fueled a wider probe, ESPN claims.
Three mystery payments to Blazer initially reported in the Independent by UK journalist Andrew Jennings drew the attention of IRS investigator Steve Berryman. He discovered other suspicious payments that hadn't been reported to the tax man.
Officials used what they found on Blazer to force his cooperation. He spent the following years secretly recording his soccer colleagues and sports marketing executive associates to implicate them in a range of crimes from bribery to money laundering, the New York Daily News first reported in late 2014.
Blazer pleaded guilty to a 10-count indictment including racketeering, money laundering and tax evasion. His bond was set at $10m.
Now the big man lies seriously ill in a hospital bed in New Jersey after battling rectal cancer. His last sentencing date was postponed.