Concacaf seeks $20m in damages from disgraced former leaders Warner and Blazer
Concacaf, the governing body for soccer in North and Central America, has filed a lawsuit seeking damages from its former president Jack Warner and former general secretary Chuck Blazer.
The complaint was submitted this week at the New York Eastern District Court where, in 2013, Warner (pictured) and Blazer were among a long list of soccer officials, mostly from the Americas, named in an indictment related to a US Department of Justice investigation into schemes in which $200 million in bribes and kickbacks concerning media and marketing rights were alleged to have been paid.
Concacaf is seeking “not less than $20 million” in damages, according to the Courthouse News Service.
Sportvertising, En Passant Inc. and Multisport Games Development are among the companies named as co-defendants.
US citizen Blazer, the Concacaf general secretary from 1990 to 2011, pleaded guilty to bribery and other financial offences in 2013, and has been co-operating with the legal authorities in the continuing probe.
Warner, the president of the confederation for the same 21-year-period, remains at large in his home country of Trinidad and Tobago where he is fighting extradition to USA.
In the lawsuit, the confederation accuses the pair, who were both senior officials at Fifa, of having “used their influence in the world of football to extract bribes from media rights companies and to pilfer funds belonging to Concacaf.”
It added that it was unaware until the indictment was unsealed on 27 May, 2015 that the two executives had “actively solicited and received bribes in connection with their roles at Concacaf, and as part of the scheme continued to ‘promote and conceal [Blazer’s] receipt of bribes and kickbacks,’ as Blazer stated in his allocution.”
The American is accused of amassing millions of dollars in commissions and fees through broadcasting and marketing deals that the Concacaf executive committee had not authorised under the contracts he had with the confederation.
The complaint also alleges that Blazer misused assets, citing his three apartments in Trump Tower in New York and two apartments at the Mondrian South Beach Hotel Residences in Miami, and the acquisition of an apartment at the Atlantis Paradise Resort in the Bahamas with Concacaf funds “intended for the development programmes for football, not to support Blazer’s luxurious personal lifestyle.”
Concacaf claims that Warner was aware of Blazer’s wrongdoing, but did not try to stop him and instead benefited from his behaviour.
The lawsuit comes as the confederation seeks to rebuild its reputation under new president Victor Montagliani of Canada after his predecessors Alfredo Hawit, Jeffrey Webb and Warner were all implicated in the US indictment.
In March 2016, Fifa began a legal process with the US authorities in a bid to recover “tens of millions of dollars pocketed illegally by corrupt Fifa members and other football officials.”
Blazer, Warner and Webb were among 41 individuals named in its ‘Request for Restitution’ to the US Attorney’s Office and the US Probation Office for the Eastern District of New York.
Later, in October, Conmebol, the South American soccer confederation, launched its own legal action in USA against marketing partner International Soccer Marketing seeking $18 million it claims to be owed in the corruption scandal.
It said it was the first of several cases it planned to bring in response to the wide-ranging US DoJ probe and came after ISM executives admitted in court that they had paid bribes to former Conmebol officials to gain exclusive rights to manage sponsorship contracts.
Alejandro Dominguez of Paraguay was elected Conmebol president in January 2016 pledging to clean up the confederation and sue companies that benefited from corrupt deals with former leaders.
The previous three presidents – Juan Angel Napout, Eugenio Figueredo and Nicolas Leoz – were all named in the DoJ indictment.