Like Blazer, Blatter, 81, has been cast out of the game he once ruled. He officially left FIFA last year and later was barred from working in soccer. He has not been charged in the corruption case — which includes more than 40 defendants — and said Thursday that life continued happily for him in Switzerland.
“Every day is a fiesta, it’s still true,” Blatter said. “But one day, we have to end our life. It is in my belief and in my faith, when somebody passes away, you just get the good messages.”
So that was what he offered. While he said it was up to United States soccer officials to characterize Blazer’s legacy, Blatter offered positive impressions.
“He was a businessman, but I would say he was most valuable for me when he was on the executive committee of FIFA,” Blatter said, recalling a period that corresponds to the one in which Blazer committed many of the crimes to which he later confessed.
“His legacy in the game is that he was a very hard worker. He studied all sides of football — development, refereeing, television — he had his own television studio in the Trump Tower,” Blatter said, referring to Blazer’s New York residence, where he kept two apartments, including one principally devoted to his cats.
“He had a strong influence on the development of soccer in the United States, where it is still difficult to fight against the American sports,” Blatter continued. “You remember he started with the organization of the North American Soccer League,” he said, referring to the league that thrived in the 1970s before collapsing in 1984. Blatter also noted Blazer’s tutoring of Gulati, the American federation’s current president.
Asked about the crimes to which Blazer had confessed, Blatter called himself a “faithful man” and declined to comment.
“Do not judge,” he said, “otherwise, you will one day be convicted.”