Sepp Blatter's right-hand man must wait six weeks to find out if he has a future in football.
Jerome Valcke must wait up to another six weeks before FIFA’s suspended secretary-general learns his fate from the ethics committee.
Last September Valcke, then president Sepp Blatter’s trusted No2, was relieved of his duties as secretary-general ‘effective immediately’ after allegations linking him to a World Cup ticket deal.
Later the 55-year-old was also suspended by the ethics committee though his downfall has been overshadowed by the punitive actions against Blatter and UEFA president Michel Platini. Like them, he has denied all wrongdoing.
Valcke’s suspension expires this week and the ethics investigators have sought a statutory further 45 days to press recommendation for a nine-year suspension from all football plus a fine of SFr 100,000 for alleged “misuse of expenses and other infringements of FIFA’s rules and regulations.”
The Frenchman learned of his initial FIFA suspension four months ago after the mid-air turnaround of his charter flight to Russia where he had been heading for events marking 1,000 days to the country’s staging of the 2018 World Cup finals. His FIFA duties were taken over on an interim basis by finance director Markus Kattner.
In line with FIFA statutes the only man with authority over the employment status of the secretary-general is the president. Hence Blatter acted after conferring with his emergency committee, the heads of the six regional confederations then including UEFA’s Michel Platini.
Valcke had appeared the one solid figure left at the head of FIFA as the corruption scandal swirling around Blatter and Co, keeping the operation ticking over. But he had not hidden his expectation of leaving FIFA after the election of a new president next February 26.
However one issue had also brought him to the scandal’s centre stage.
This was the controversial $10m payment made by the 2010 South African World Cup organisers to the former CONCACAF president Jack Warner. Valcke insisted that he had effected the payment out of funds due to the South Africans and was only obeying orders from the late Julio Grondona, then FIFA’s finance chairman.
The tickets allegations stemmed from a claim by a Zurich company, JB Sports Marketing, that it had been misled by Valcke over a contract with FIFA to sell VIP ticket packages for the 2013 Confederations Cup and 2014 World Cup.
Benny Alon, a former Israeli footballer now resident in Arizona, said JB had understood that the surplus of up to four times the face value of the tickets themselves would be split 50/50 with FIFA, with Valcke undertaking a personal role as go-between.
Alon is a skiing friend of Michel Platini, the president of European federation UEFA who had been favourite to succeed Blatter as head of FIFA.
Barry Berke, Valcke’s lawyer, issued a vehement denial of any wrongdoing, saying: “Jerome Valcke unequivocally denies the fabricated and outrageous accusations by Benny Alon of alleged wrongdoing in connection with the sale of World Cup tickets.”
Valcke’s suspension was also laced with reports that he and Blatter had fallen out over the Frenchman’s demands for a multi-million severance deal in which he was reportedly seeking full indemnity against any and all possible legal action.
On October 8 Valcke was suspended for 90 days by FIFA’s ethics committee pending a full investigation into the allegations.
He had joined FIFA originally as head of the marketing section but was sent on ‘gardening leave’ after taking the blame for the costly court case which followed the clumsy replacement by Visa of MasterCard as a World Cup sponsor in 2006.
Valcke returned to FIFA in the summer of 2007 as secretary-general and took the lead role, most notably, in ensuring that South Africa and then Brazil came up to the mark in preparations to stage the World Cups of 2010 and 2014 respectively.