News 5th January 2016

FIFA recommends nine-year ban for Valcke

The Investigatory Chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee has recommended a nine-year ban be imposed on former General Secretary Jérôme Valcke. Although FIFA has yet to release its reasons for such a strict ban, it is understood to be due to allegations he was involved a scheme to profit from selling World Cup tickets at above face value, and his involvement (see letter below) in allowing former FIFA Vice President Jack Warner to administer US$10 million, which FIFA withheld from the operational budget of the organising committee for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa for a ‘Diaspora Legacy Programme’ in the CONCACAF region. Warner, who was President of CONCACAF at the time, has since been banned from football for life, after being named in various allegations within the Department of Justice’s (DoJ) 161-page indictment against FIFA officials and associates.

It is understood that in 2013, Valcke came to an agreement with former professional footballer Benny Alon to split any profits from the resale of hospitality tickets to 2014 Brazil World Cup games. Alon was working for JB Sports Marketing (JBSM), which in 2010 had signed a deal with FIFA to buy 8,750 tickets to 24 games, which would be sold to the hospitality market.

According to the Daily Mail, Elon told Valcke that tickets were selling at three times face value, and Valcke agreed with a request to sell the entire inventory of tickets. However, FIFA then apparently realised that due to its contract with Match Services AG, an official hospitality provider, it should not have allowed JBSM to sign the deal. It is understood that FIFA then attempted to transfer the agreement with JBSM into an agreement with Match Services AG, at which point JBSM contacted lawyers.

The Daily Mail claims to have seen an email from Valcke to Alon, in which Valcke says that JBSM has no choice but to accept the deal with Match Services AG, otherwise its deal with FIFA would be cancelled. Alon alleges that having complied with this request, the tickets the company was contracted to receive did not arrive.

Valcke has denied that he made any money out of the deal, reports The Guardian. It is understood that he does not deny that there was a contract with JBSM, but that FIFA realised that it could not sell the tickets due to its contract with Match Services AG and claims that when it became clear that the tickets were being sold at inflated prices, FIFA terminated the deal. However, The Guardian questions why Valcke waited eight months after being told that the tickets were being sold at above face value in April 2013 before terminating the agreement with JBSM.

‘The Chairman of the investigatory chamber of the Ethics Committee recommended imposing a sanction of a nine-year ban and a fine of CHF 100,000 on Mr Valcke for alleged violation of the general rules of conduct (art. 13 of the FIFA Code of Ethics (FCE)), loyalty (art. 15 FCE), confidentiality (art. 16 FCE), duty of disclosure, cooperation and reporting (art. 18 FCE), conflicts of interest (art. 19 FCE), offering and accepting gifts and other benefits (art. 20 FCE) and general obligation to collaborate (art. 42 FCE)’, reads today’s FIFA statement. ‘Until a formal decision is taken by the adjudicatory chamber of the Ethics Committee, Mr Valcke is presumed innocent’.

FIFA and the organising committee for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa later admitted arranging for Warner to be paid US$10 million, however South Africa denied that the payment was a bribe to secure votes in 2004, when FIFA’s Executive Committee voted to appoint South Africa as tournament host. Although FIFA and South Africa explained that the payment was made as part of a US$10 million project to support the African diaspora in Caribbean countries as part of the World Cup legacy, no explanation was given about how and why this sum was agreed, and no record appears to exist about how the money was spent. Although it admitted administering the payment, FIFA initially denied that its senior management were involved. However the above 2008 letter to Valcke – specifically concerning the $10 million payment – contradicted FIFA’s position.

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