News 13 January 2016

FIFA dismisses Valcke before Ethics Committee hearing

FIFA has announced that its Emergency Committee decided on 9 January to dismiss Jérôme Valcke from his position as FIFA Secretary General, and his duties will be assumed by Dr. Markus Kattner. The Adjudicatory Chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee was due to decide whether Valcke should be banned, after the Investigatory Chamber recommended a nine-year ban on 6 January. It is understood that one of the reasons behind its recommendation was a World Cup ticketing contract with JB Sports Marketing (JBSM), which Kattner also signed.

FIFA has been asked why the Emergency Committee felt is necessary to implement a ban ahead of the Adjudicatory Chamber hearing. Such measures were not taken in past cases which were arguably higher profile, such as the bans issued to former FIFA and UEFA Presidents Joseph S. Blatter and Michel Platini in December. The Sports Integrity Initiative is awaiting a response. ‘The Emergency Committee shall deal with all matters requiring immediate settlement between two meetings of the Executive Committee’, reads a description of the Emergency Committee’s role on FIFA’s internet site. ‘The President shall convene the Emergency Committee meetings’. As highlighted by the Sports Integrity Initiative, such FIFA decisions appear contradictory to a 5 January FIFA statement, which read: ‘Until a formal decision is taken by the adjudicatory chamber of the Ethics Committee, Mr Valcke is presumed innocent’.

The Investigatory Committee found Valcke had breached nine Articles of the FIFA Code of Ethics. Although FIFA has yet to release its reasons for recommending a nine-year ban, it is understood to be due to allegations Valcke was involved a scheme to profit from selling World Cup tickets at above face value, and his involvement 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.

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 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. Kattner is an interesting choice for Valcke’s replacement at FIFA, as it is understood that he also signed the contract with JBSM.

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.

‘Jerome Valcke is proud of all that was accomplished for the game of football during his long tenure as Secretary General, including two of the most successful World Cups in history in South Africa and Brazil’, reads a statement emailed from Valcke’s lawyer, Barry H. Berke. ‘He remains confident that he will be fully vindicated and history will recognize all of his contributions to the sport he loves’.

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