GFOP Jim Wheeler's Letter

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Museum-Fix

Rog & Davo,

Enclosed you will find a signed game ball from the US versus Jamaica game played at the 1993 Gold Cup in Dallas, Texas.

Please consider this ball as a gift to the budding museum, I hope it can find a good spot for display.

If possible, it would be appropriate to place the ball next to or near a picture of Chuck Blazer. In the spring of 1993, before the event began, I was having dinner with Jack Warner, Chuck Blazer, and Televisa executive Emilio Barroso. The four of us were discussing the event and the logistics. During dinner jack Warner jokingly referred to the Gold Cup as the "Chuck Blazer Invitational." Everyone laughed at the joke. I also laughed, but I did not understand the joke. I was 24 at the time and like every 24 year old I was too scared to ask, "what is so funny?" A few weeks later, during the Gold Cup, the four of us again met for dinner. This time I was able to connect the dots, At this dinner was told that should the US win, I would need to transport the "winning purse" to the US National Team offices at US Soccer, I believe in Chicago at the time. I agreed to the task. I was then told the "winning purse" was $5 million in gold bullion to the winner of the Gold Cup. Chuck Blazer had conceived of the idea to award gold bullion to the Gold Cup winner hence the "Chuck Blazer Invitational" jokes. The $5 in gold bullion was being stored at Televisa Headquarters in Mexico City. Should the US win, it was my job to pick up the gold in Mexico City and deliver to US Soccer in Chicago. Details of how this was to be accomplished were not discussed. This idea, and task, appeared both reasonable and logical to a 24 year old. I agreed to the job and the discussion moved to the next topic. I figured driving $5 million across international borders was how business was conducted at the international level. Fortunately Mexico won 4-0 and I did not have to carry out my assignment.

Chuck and I remained close friends. I almost went to work for him in 1994 and again in 2000. I have many more World Cup 1994 Stories, but I will share those over beers some day. I will say that the first line item on the FBi indictment against Chuck Blazer is regarding tickets to the 1994 World Cup. Our last game in Dallas during the 1994 World Cup (1 was the Dallas venue Marketing Director) was a quarter final between Brazil and Netherlands. A game many believe was the best of the tournament. Four days before the game I received 200 tickets from Chuck Blazer....

I want to thank you for everything you are doing to promote the beautiful game in the US. I firmly believe that your efforts have had, and will continue to have, a lasting positive impact.

Warm Regards,

Jim Wheeler