FIFA No.2 Valcke Suspended Over World Cup Ticket Allegations

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Jerome Valcke denies what he calls “fabricated and outrageous accusations” (Getty)
(WFI) FIFA has been plunged into further turmoil after secretary general Jerome Valcke was suspended amid allegations linking him to a World Cup ticketing scam.

FIFA said in a statement released late Thursday night that Sepp Blatter’s right-hand man “has been put on leave and released from his duties effective immediately until further notice”.

“Further, FIFA has been made aware of a series of allegations involving the secretary general and has requested a formal investigation by the FIFA Ethics Committee.”

Leading the probe will be Cornel Borbély, head of the investigatory chamber of FIFA’s ethics body.

The allegations that surfaced in the Guardian and other newspapers implicate the Frenchman in a scheme to sell tickets at three times face value and take a cut of the profits.

They were made by Benny Alon of JB Sports Marketing to several international media organizations in Zurich on Thursday, triggering Valcke’s suspension.

Alon, who had a contract with FIFA’s ticketing agency Match to offer World Cup hospitality packages, showed emails – allegedly coming from Valcke’s Gmail account and FIFA email address – that indicated the football official agreed for him to sell an allotment of Brazil 2014 World Cup tickets at above face value, with the two of them sharing the profits.

But it is not certain any tickets were sold and the ticketing contract was ultimately cancelled when FIFA realised the ticketing agreement struck with Alon contravened Brazilian law. The Guardian reported that Valcke wrote an email to Alon in December 2013 saying: “You, we, have no choice. Otherwise the deal will be canceled by FIFA or we all face as individuals criminal offense. It is not a joke. It is very serious."

Valcke strenuously denied what he called “fabricated and outrageous accusations”. 

“Mr Valcke never received or agreed to accept any money or anything else of value from Mr Alon,” said his US-based lawyers. “As has been reported, FIFA entered into an agreement with Mr Alon’s company, JB Sports Marketing. That agreement and FIFA’s subsequent business dealings with Mr Alon were vetted and approved by FIFA and its legal counsel.”

Valcke was supposed to be in Moscow on Friday for the 1000-day countdown celebrations to the Russia 2018 World Cup.
Instead, the top official representing FIFA is its competitions director Colin Smith.

INSIDER is told that Sepp Blatter did not travel to Moscow for the celebrations.

Valcke’s suspension pending the results of a FIFA inquiry is the latest blow to the football body’s already tarnished image.

FIFA has been mired in allegations of deep-rooted corruption since May. The US Department of Justice ordered the arrest of seven FIFA officials days before FIFA’s annual congress. In total, 14 FIFA and marketing executives were later indicted on charges of bribery and racketeering.

Amid the escalating scandal, Blatter announced his resignation plan four days after being re-elected to a fifth term in June. His successor will be chosen at a FIFA congress on Feb 26, when Valcke had originally planned to step down too.

By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson

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