How does it all tie together?
The entire Sepp Blatter/FIFA scandal has led to a whole round of questioning concerning the main American figure in it all…. Chuck Blazer and his ties to the US game.
Earlier today World Soccer Talk asked the very important question “What did US Soccer know about Chuck Blazer’s Bribes“..
What did US Soccer know about these incidents? And when did they know it?
After all, Chuck Blazer is a man that was so deeply entrenched within the US Soccer machine that in the same year that Blazer resigned from CONCACAF, MLS Commissioner Don Garber said, “Everybody who cares about the sport in this country owes [Chuck Blazer] a debt of gratitude.”
Five years earlier, in 2006, Blazer received the Commissioner’s Award from MLS for his “overall contributions to the sport and the game.”
“Chuck is one of the most important people in the history of soccer in this country. Those in the soccer business know how important he is to the development of this sport and management of this sport throughout North America,” Garber said. “Not every American knows that the man behind the scenes pushing this sport is Chuck and for that he is very worthy of being recognized by MLS and by our ownership.”
Garber added, “His support for us started long before his support on television. It’s far deeper than that. It’s not about one specific thing, it’s about what influence he’s had over the last 10 years.
We know that Blazer helped FIFA negotiate its broadcast rights to the 2010 and 2014 World Cups in the United States
One of Blazer’s greatest successes came when he persuaded the FIFA ExCo to block an agreement to sell NBC the U.S. rights to the 2010 and 2014 World Cups for $350 million. Instead, Blazer helped hammer out a package deal: Univision and ESPN paid a combined $425 million for those rights, and ESPN also agreed to pay to carry Major League Soccer. That marked a major reversal: For the previous decade, the struggling soccer league had actually been paying ESPN to show its matches.
While the details are not available on how profitable for SUM this 40m deal for two men’s and a women’s World Cups had become once they worked out a partnership with ABC/ESPN. We do know that the Spanish Language broadcast generated substantial revenue in 2006 alone for Univision…
Univision received about $110 million in incremental World Cup-related revenue in 2006 — an estimated $170 million during the tournament’s time frame — after paying about $100 million for rights.
We also know that SUM had put in a bid for the 2010 and 2014 World Cup broadcasting rights in the United States.
This is a second round of bidding. NBC Universal submitted a bid during the summer, as did SUM and Spanish-language incumbent Univision, which paid $150 million for the World Cup rights for 2002-06.
In September, FIFA’s Marketing and Television Division recommended accepting the offer from NBC Universal, which sources said was worth more than $300 million for English- and Spanish-language rights.
We also know that once SUM was told they were not going to get the TV deal…
FIFA then put the process on hold and later began soliciting bids from other U.S. media companies. Once it became clear that FIFA preferred to do a deal directly with a network, MLS and SUM began talking to ESPN and Fox about a separate arrangement that will include an MLS television deal as well as guarantees of cross-promotion through the World Cup telecasts
Chuck Blazer and Don Garber worked hand in hand to make sure MLS/SUM was included in the deal…
At a FIFA executive committee meeting months earlier, Blazer had stood up and asked his FIFA colleagues not to approve a $350 million bid from NBC for the 2010 and 2014 World Cup rights. Granting NBC the rights, he argued, would hurt soccer’s exposure in the U.S. because NBC wouldn’t televise MLS or other international competition.
Blazer asked for a few weeks to find an alternative, not because he had insider knowledge that a higher bid was in the works, but simply a hunch that other networks would offer a better deal.
Blazer worked with Garber to eventually put together a deal for Univision and ESPN to buy the rights for $325 million and $100 million, respectively.
and this was obviously with the support of USSF President Sunil Gulati as well..
“If we have to go to the mat on something, Chuck’s where we go,” said U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati. “The natural avenue to FIFA is through CONCACAF and that means Chuck.”
Anschutz Entertainment Group President Tim Leiweke, whose company owns four MLS teams and has invested in the construction of multiple soccer stadiums, said he and MLS remain involved in the World Cup bidding process.
“I’ve been in meetings with [FIFA President] Sepp [Blatter] and Phillip Anschutz, and we continue to work with FIFA on the World Cup bid,” Leiweke said. “The World Cup deal is going to be with a network, probably not with SUM, but when it’s all said and done we’re very supportive of that.”
Little happens in U.S. soccer without his knowledge or involvement; the recent MLS labor dispute was just the latest example. Though he wasn’t involved in the negotiations, sources say he encouraged FIFA to lend MLS support when the MLS Players Union alleged that the league was in violation of FIFA rules pertaining to the league’s single-entity structure.
So… we know that once a non- SUM or current MLS broadcast partner was decided on by FIFA Chuck Blazer stepped in and got that stopped. FIFA then opened bidding and negotiated a new deal with current MLS broadcast partner that not only paid more money to FIFA but that same broadcast partner also decided to give MLS a new, and for the first time ever, profitable TV deal….
This can be read in to and interpreted in a several different ways.
MLS had promised ESPN/FOX the World Cup at a certain price point through SUM and when NBC outbid that price point (or FIFA would just not deal with a non-broadcast partner directly) they had Chuck Blazer step in and stop the awarding of the broadcast rights to open the bidding back up. This was done while co-awarding MLS a new broadcasting contract (similar to how the current USMNT/WNT and MLS TV deal is structured) that showed a profit.
Chuck Blazer just convinced FIFA he had a 425+ million dollar hunch… and it worked out.
Leave a comment below and let me know how tied in Chuck Blazer was with the USSF, MLS you think he was and if you think his dirty CONCACAF works bled over in to the US game.
Oh yeah… lets just let this sink in for a second…
“Charlie Stillitano recently revealed on Sirius XM that Gulati and Blazer were best friends” Hadn’t seen that before https://t.co/BGW8PQcQUJ
— ps8 (@PhilSoc8) June 4, 2015