News 17th September 2015

FIFA puts Valcke ‘on leave’ after ticketing scheme allegations

FIFA has put its Secretary General, Jérôme Valcke, on leave following allegations that he was involved in a scheme to profit from selling World Cup tickets at above face value. ‘FIFA today announced that its Secretary General Jérôme Valcke has been put on leave and released from his duties effective immediately until further notice’, read a statement issued this evening. ‘Further, FIFA has been made aware of a series of allegations involving the Secretary General and has requested a formal investigation by the FIFA Ethics Committee’.

It is understood that the allegations stem from Israeli Benny Alon, a former professional footballer who went on to work for JB Sports Marketing (JBSM), who arranged a press briefing in Zurich today. JBSM had worked with FIFA since the 1990 World Cup in Italy, and in 2010 signed a deal to sell 8,750 tickets for the FIFA World Cup 2014, in Brazil. It is understood that the contract stipulated that JBSM would select 12 games and FIFA 12.

At the briefing, Alon alleged that Valcke asked him if he was happy with the deal, and he told him he would like to select all 24 games, reported the Daily Mail. The newspaper claims to have a letter in which Valcke confirms that JBSM would be able to select any Brazil games it wanted, and that an agreement was in place for Alon and Valcke to split the profits.

The newspaper alleges that JBSM’s tickets were selling at above three times face value, and that Valcke agreed with a request from Alon to sell the entire inventory of tickets. However, it is reported that FIFA then realised that due to its contract with Match Services AG, it should not have allowed JBSM to sell any tickets. The Daily Mail alleges that FIFA then attempted to transfer the agreement with JBSM into an agreement with Match Services AG, at which point JBSM said it would contact lawyers.

The newspaper 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.

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