FIFA hands Valcke 12-year ban for ticket, television deals abuse
A FIFA tribunal on Friday banned former secretary general Jerome Valcke for 12 years for misconduct ranging from helping a World Cup ticket scam to fixing a television deal and destroying evidence.
The former right hand man to FIFA’s scandal tainted president Sepp Blatter was also fined 100,000 Swiss francs ($100,000).
The 55-year-old Frenchman had denied any wrongdoing after he was implicated in the sale of black market sales of tickets for the 2014 World Cup.
Originally, only a nine-year ban had been sought for Valcke.
A FIFA statement said however that “several other acts of potential misconduct” during his nearly 10-year in office arose as the ethics committee investigated the accusations.
It highlighted “in particular abuse of the FIFA travel expenses policies and regulations, cases involving related-parties issues and the sale of TV and other media rights, and the destruction of evidence”.
Valcke’s US-based lawyers insisted that their client will clear his name.
“With today’s decision, the FIFA Ethics Committee has shown that it is not a credible, independent or objective decision-making body,” said lawyer Barry Berke in a statement emailed to AFP.
Claiming the decision was “unjust and politically-motivated”, Berke added: “Mr. Valcke is confident that when all the facts come out, it will be clear that he did absolutely nothing wrong in carrying out his duties for the good of FIFA and the sport.”
FIFA said a sports marketing firm “gained an undue advantage from the selling of FIFA World Cup tickets” and that Valcke had helped.
“Not only did Mr Valcke do nothing to stop these activities, he even encouraged the persons responsible to do so. Furthermore, Mr Valcke repeatedly encouraged them to breach an agreement concluded between FIFA and the sports marketing firm.”
The statement also highlighted a contract for the sale of television and media rights for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups in the Caribbean.
Valcke attempted to grant the rights to “a third party for a fee far below their actual market value and had taken concrete preparatory action in this regard”.
Valcke was also found to have “deliberately” tried to obstruct the FIFA investigation by “attempting to delete or deleting several files and folders relevant to the investigation”.
FIFA said the Frenchman had also cheated on his expenses.
It said Valcke and his family travelled “at FIFA’s expense purely for sightseeing reasons as well as repeatedly choosing private flights for his trips over commercial flights without any business rationale”.
Valcke has also been linked to a $10 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.
FIFA did not say whether this was part of the investigation.
The world football body fired Valcke on January 13, the latest high profile figure to be brought down after Blatter and UEFA chief Michel Platini were banned for eight years for separate ethics violations.
FIFA first suspended Valcke on September 17, when investigators began probing the ticketing scheme.
After ending the inquiry, the ethics committee had called for a lengthy ban and the 100,000 Swiss franc fine.
Valcke has long been a controversial figure in football.
When FIFA’s marketing director in 2006, the Frenchman was sacked over a battle with credit card sponsors Mastercard. Valcke negotiated a deal with rival Visa even though Mastercard had a first-option deal that was not respected.
FIFA later had to pay $90 million in compensation. A New York judge said Valcke had lied to both companies. He was sacked as marketing director, but shortly after the compensation deal was agreed, Blatter reappointed Valcke as his deputy.
Valcke’s lawyer said after he was fired that Valcke “is proud of all that was accomplished for the game of football during his long tenure as secretary general”.
The Valcke ban came as FIFA’s corruption storm again enters the spotlight.
Blatter and Platini will next week launch appeals against their bans at a FIFA appeals committee.
The world body will on February 26 vote for a new president who has a mountainous task ahead rebuilding FIFA’s name.
Blatter was banned by FIFA judges in December over a two million Swiss francs ($2 million, 1.8 million euros) payment to Platini, who received the same ban.
Swiss prosecutors have opened a criminal case targeting Blatter over the payment, and Valcke’s emails have been turned over to investigators in Bern as evidence in the case.
Switzerland is also investigating the attribution of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar respectively.
The US justice department has charged 39 people and two companies over more than $200 million of dollars bribes paid for football television and marketing deals.