Blatter and Valcke at last week’s FIFA Congress (Getty)

(WFI) FIFA denies claims in the New York Times that Sepp Blatter aide Jerome Valcke was involved in the transfer of $10 million to its former vice president Jack Warner. The transaction is at the centre of the US-led bribery probe.

FIFA’s secretary general was alleged to be the “high-ranking Fifa official” named in the US indictment last week who signed off on the payment to the disgraced former CONCACAF president.

FIFA tried to shift pressure from Valcke this morning, saying the payments were authorised by the-then chairman of the finance committee Julio Grondona. He died last year.

“Neither the secretary general Jérôme Valcke nor any other member of FIFA’s senior management were involved in the initiation, approval and implementation of the above project,” the statement said.

But it was quickly discredited after a letter from the South African FA (SAFA) to Valcke emerged less than one hour later showing that Valcke was, at the very least, aware of the request and the instructions for the payment.

Posted on Twitter by the Press Association’s Martyn Ziegler, the letter is addressed to the Frenchman and signed by the former SAFA president Molefi Oliphant.

Described as a donation for the Diaspora Legacy Programme, the clear instruction – mentioned twice in the document – was for it to be “administered and implemented” directly by Warner. The Trinidadian was at that time deputy chair of FIFA’s finance committee.

FIFA said in its statement: “In 2007, as part of the 2010 FIFA World
Cup, the South African Government approved a $10m project to support the
African diaspora in Caribbean countries as part of the World Cup

“At the request of the South African Government, and in agreement with
the South African Football Association (SAFA), FIFA was asked to process
the project’s funding by withholding $10m from the Local Organising
Committee’s (LOC) operational budget and using that to finance the
Diaspora Legacy Programme.”

In a second statement today, responding the emergence of the letter, FIFA said: “Here is nothing new. The letter is consistent to our statement where we underlined that the FIFA Finance Committee made the final approval.

“In general, the FIFA secretary general is the recipient of all letters and requests to the administration and acts in accordance with FIFA’s regulations,” FIFA added, reiterating that Valcke or other high-ranking FIFA officials were involved in signing off the payment.

The $10m payment to a Bank of America account linked to Warner is at the heart of the latest bribery scandal to engulf FIFA and piles further pressure on Valcke and Blatter’s leadership, just days after the Swiss was re-elected for a fifth term.

Warner is among 14 FIFA officials and marketing executives charged by the US justice department with involvement in a $150m scheme of bribes and kickbacks. Seven FIFA officials arrested in Zurich ahead of the FIFA Congress last week face allegations of racketeering, money laundering and wire fraud on a 47-count US indictment.

Warner is accused of accepting a bribe in exchange for helping South Africa to secure 2010 World Cup hosting rights.

Today’s revelations followed bans for three football officials on Monday night.

CONCACAF secretary general Enrique Sanz was suspended, following information supplied by US prosecutors to FIFA’s ethics committee adjudicatory chamber chaired by Hans-Joachim Eckert. His suspension comes six days after CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb was arrested and indicted by the US Department of Justice.

Also, Congolese Football Association officials Jean Guy Blaise Mayolas and Badji Mombo Wantete were provisionally banned by Fifa’s ethics committee for “various breaches of the FIFA Code of Ethics”.

By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson

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