Judge orders Blazer's plea agreement unsealed

US judge presiding over FIFA corruption investigation orders unsealing of former executive's plea bargain

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The U.S. judge presiding over the corruption cases of indicted soccer officials has ordered the unsealing of the plea agreement between former FIFA executive committee member Chuck Blazer and the U.S. government.

Media outlets last week called for the plea agreement to be unsealed in the wake of the indictments of 14 soccer and media executives for corruption but U.S. authorities have opposed the move.

"Because the court concludes that the government has not met its high burden of establishing that continued sealing is necessary to prevent a substantial probability of prejudice to a compelling government interest, the applications to unseal the agreement are granted," U.S. District Judge Raymond Dearie in Brooklyn, New York, wrote on Thursday.

Dearie stayed his order until Monday, giving prosecutors time to consider whether to appeal his decision.

The judge also gave the government until Friday to apply to redact any portion of the agreement.

Blazer, the former general secretary of CONCACAF, soccer’s governing body in North and Central America and the Caribbean, secretly pleaded guilty to 10 criminal counts in New York in 2013 as part of an agreement with U.S. prosecutors, according to  a transcript of the hearing released last week.

Blazer told Dearie in 2013 that he and other FIFA officials took bribes in connection with the 1998 and 2010 World Cups among other tournaments.

According to U.S. officials, Blazer’s cooperation has helped build the sprawling corruption case that has engulfed FIFA and led the governing body's president Sepp Blatter to announce his resignation only days after winning re-election for a fifth term.

Blazer, 70, is one of four individuals in the case who pleaded guilty in secret and agreed to assist U.S. investigators.

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined comment. Blazer's lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.