News 17th August 2017

Valcke hits back at forgetful Blatter over FIFA contract with US law firm

Jérôme Valcke has accused his old FIFA boss Sepp Blatter of amnesia amid confusion over the world federation’s protective contract with law firm Quinn EmanuelEarlier this month German news magazine Der Spiegel obtained a copy of a contract with the American international law firm signed off in January 2015 by Legal Director Marco Villiger, Finance Director Markus Kattner and Valcke, who was then Secretary General.

This was four years after FIFA, controversially, had awarded the 2022 World Cup to Qatar rather than the US and four months before the US Justice Department (DoJ) launched the first of its FIFAGate corruption indictments. Last week, Blatter said he knew nothing about the contract. This made him suspect that his eventual downfall had been brought about by plotting within FIFA itself.

Villiger is the only survivor at FIFA, having become joint Deputy General Secretary. Valcke was sacked after the emergence of ticketing allegations while Kattner was dismissed after publication of excessive pay deals among senior directors.

Denials

Blatter and Valcke are under criminal investigation over separate issues by the Office of the Swiss Attorney-General. Both are suspended from football but have denied all wrongdoing.

Valcke, since his abrupt expulsion from FIFA in January 2016, has refused any public comment. However he made a reported exception to respond to an inquiry about the Quinn Emanuel contract from Norwegian news outlet Nettavisen.

Valcke told Nettavisen: “This is a strong attack on me. It’s simply ridiculous that Blatter accuses me and says he did not know anything himself. Firstly, I do not remember this contract; secondly, it appears that the contract was signed to protect FIFA’s interests; thirdly, I have not signed a single important deal without Sepp Blatter knowing about it.

“Finally, I’m surprised that every time something appears, former colleagues have selective memory and throw all my guilt and responsibility upon me. I do not understand how I could spend 15 years in FIFA if I really was so terrible and all the shit in FIFA is due to me.”

Legal risk

No-one has questioned the validity of the contract between FIFA and Quinn Emanuel which was signed off, perhaps not coincidentally, one month before the world federation confirmed its hasty award of 2026 World Cup TV rights to Fox/Telemundo. Sources within FIFA at the time suggested it rushed through the contract extension, without going to tender, to head off the risk of legal action from the broadcaster over the 2022 World Cup award to Qatar.

In that context, formally securing the services of a leading US law firm would have made perfect sense. Perhaps the only surprise is that, after the World Cup vote in December 2010, it took FIFA Directors so long to shore up the world federation’s legal representation in the US.

• This article was originally published on Keir Radnedge’s internet site on 17 August 2017. To access the original, please click here.

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