Football: Fifa brandishes red card at Valcke

Jerome Valcke has paid the price for his indiscretions as Fifa sacked him from his secretary general post. PHOTO: REUTERS
Jerome Valcke has paid the price for his indiscretions as Fifa sacked him from his secretary general post. PHOTO: REUTERS

Secretary general sacked after allegations of selling 2014 World Cup tickets on black market

ZURICH • Fifa has fired secretary general Jerome Valcke, who is under investigation for misconduct, world football's governing body said yesterday.

The former right-hand man to Sepp Blatter, the Fifa president banned for eight years, has been accused of aiding a scheme to sell 2014 World Cup tickets on the black market.

"The Fifa emergency committee decided, on Jan 9, 2016, to dismiss Jerome Valcke from the position of Fifa secretary general with immediate effect," Fifa said a statement.

It said all of the Frenchman's employment with the body had been "terminated".

Valcke was suspended on Sept 17 after the ethics committee started an inquiry into allegations that he helped sell 2014 World Cup tickets on the black market. The suspension was renewed on Jan 6.

He has also been linked to a US$10 million (S$14.3 million) payment made by South Africa to corruption-tainted former Caribbean football chief Jack Warner. US investigators reportedly believe this was a bribe to secure votes for the 2010 World Cup hosted in South Africa.

Last week, Fifa's ethics court opened formal proceedings against the Frenchman over the alleged black market ticket scheme, after world football's investigators said they had evidence justifying a nine-year ban. He was also facing a fine of 100,000 Swiss francs (S$142,000).

Valcke has denied all wrongdoing and his US lawyer Barry Berke has blasted Fifa for ignoring his client's "exemplary conduct and extraordinary contributions during his long tenure as secretary general".

Fifa said that Markus Kattner will continue to serve as acting secretary general of a body currently fighting scandals on several fronts.

US authorities have charged 39 individuals - including top Fifa executive members - and two companies over bribery in football contracts.

Blatter is under criminal investigation in Switzerland for criminal mismanagement over a 2 million Swiss franc (S$2.84 million) payment to Fifa vice-president Michel Platini. Both have been banished from football for eight years.

Fifa's ethics committee investigatory chamber announced on Tuesday that it will appeal for the pair's suspensions to be lengthened.

A successor to the disgraced Blatter will be voted in as the head of Fifa in Zurich on Feb 26.

But a televised debate between the five hopefuls for the Fifa presidency will not take place after three contenders refused to take part.

"Very disappointed that ESPN had to cancel the proposed live TV debate between Fifa presidential candidates planned on 29 Jan in London," French candidate Jerome Champagne wrote on his official Twitter account.

"Myself and (Prince) Ali Al-Hussein had accepted while the 3 others refused! No additional comment needed!"

The three other candidates cited by Champagne are Uefa general secretary Gianni Infantino, South African tycoon Tokyo Sexwale and Asian Football Confederation president Sheikh Salman Ebrahim Al-Khalifa.

A spokesman from American broadcaster ESPN confirmed that the debate - which would have been a first - had been cancelled.

"We invited all five candidates to take part in a debate and made every effort to explore logistical options with them," he said.

"Ultimately, we did not gain the commitments needed to deliver a programme that would meet our standards."

Prince Ali was "disappointed" to learn that the debate had been cancelled, a spokesman from his campaign said.

A spokesman from Infantino's campaign said that the Swiss had been "happy in principle" to take part in the debate.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 14, 2016, with the headline 'Fifa brandishes red card at Valcke'. Print Edition | Subscribe