POSTED: September 22nd 2008

Blazer attacks FIFA's Beijing justice

Chuck Blazer: deputy chairman of the players status committee / WaRaPix
Chuck Blazer: deputy chairman of the players status committee / WaRaPix

EXCLUSIVE = KEIR RADNEDGE / Sports Features Communications

LONDON: The Beijing Olympics soccer row has prompted an astonishing attack on the inner workings of FIFA by Chuck Blazer, a member of world football's all-powerful executive committee.

It is virtually unprecedented for a member of the game's most elite corridor of power to break ranks in the manner of Blazer, who is also general secretary of the Central and North American Confederation.

His anger was expressed through his own blog and published as he set out for Zurich for Tuesday’s meeting of the FIFA players status committee of which he is deputy chairman.

Blazer served previously under the successive chairmanships of Slim Aloulou of Tunisia and Gerhard Meyer-Vorfelder of Germany and, now, Geoff Thompson of England.

Yet it is not merely Thompson but FIFA president Sepp Blatter who will be seen as sitting squarely in Blazer’s line of less-than-friendly fire.

The issue which pushed Blazer over the top was FIFA's use of a single judge to decide on the Olympic player eligibility issue. Its significance was such that, he feels, it should have been put before the full committee. He accuses FIFA of  thus “misusing the tools of justice.”

Blazer says he “was totally shocked” before the Beijing Games to learn that the Olympic row had been decided by the single judge. He adds: “I knew nothing about it.”

FIFA and its president Sepp Blatter were humiliated, on the eve of the Games, when the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled that the international calendar (which enforces the release of players by clubs for specified national team competitions) did not apply to the Olympics.

European clubs led by Barcelona and Werder Bremen were thus justified in protesting their right to bar stars such as Argentina’s Leo Messi and Brazil’s Diego from playing in Beijing. In the event, partly for the sake of football’s battered image and partly through some club-advantaged hard bargaining, most of the disputed players did play in Beijing.

Blazer says: “When we created the role of the Single Judge, as part of a pre-Dispute Resolution Chamber/Players Status Committee world, the stated intention of that post was to handle the overflow of routine cases which came before the PSC and were easily resolved based on fact.

“Before the DRC, all player disputes came before the full committee. As time went on and the backlog grew, it was clear that most of these could be handled administratively but should have the stamp of the chairman of the committee in a newly-formed capacity of Single Judge.

“All major matters were still to have been brought before the full Committee or Bureau for action.”

Having dealt with the history, Blazer then rages: “Many years later, I find that when convenience suits the cause, our institutions can be misused for purposes of expediency or worse.”

He complains that the Olympic dispute was of such significance that it had been “wrong to take the matter to the Single Judge,” and that he had never been in any doubt that the CAS would rule against FIFA and in favour of the clubs.

Blazer says he intends to complain at the PSC meeting that recourse should be made to the single judge “exclusively on simple and routine matters. Otherwise, the rest of us don't need to bother to make the trip.”

Keywords · Chuck Blazer · FIFA · Olympic Games · Beijing 2008 · Sepp Blatter · Geoff Thompson

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