NEW YORK — As CONCACAF’s 50th anniversary year winds down, one of the organization’s most influential figures is set to bow out as well.
On Thursday, general secretary Chuck Blazer announced he will step down at the end of this year.
“My passion for soccer is undiminished and it is time for me to explore new challenges within this wonderful sport,” Blazer said in a statement. “Running a governing body has been an incredibly fulfilling job, but there are so many other areas of the sport where as a senior executive, I will make a great impact.”
Blazer, 66, a gregarious, larger-than-life figure, has been in charge of CONCACAF for 21 years. During his tenure, he grew the confederation’s revenue from $140,000 to $40 million through various initiatives, including the increasingly popular Gold Cup and CONCACAF Champions League.
Blazer has also been a member of the FIFA Executive Committee since 1997. He will retain that position.
“Chuck’s contributions to the sport over the last 30 years are unparalleled,” US Soccer president Sunil Gulati said. “All of us in CONCACAF owe him a great debt of gratitude for his sustained efforts in helping to take the sport to where it is today. There is no doubt that he will continue to make an impact in whatever role he chooses.”
Blazer’s tenure was not without controversy. He played an integral role in the drama surrounding the bidding for the 2022 World Cup, which many thought would be awarded to the US. Instead, it was awarded to Qatar.
During the FIFA presidential election earlier this year, Blazer was again involved in a controversial episode when he initiated an investigation into ethics violations, including bribery allegations, involving CONCACAF vice president Jack Warner several Caribbean federations and FIFA presidential candidate Mohammed bin Hammam of Qatar. As a result of the investigations, bin Hammam was eventually banned for life from all football-related activities and Warner, of Trinidad, resigned from football administration duties.
“In looking back at my years at CONCACAF, I have great satisfaction in having achieved all my objectives, including unprecedented revenues, new initiatives in competitions and modern technology in administration,” Blazer said.