FIFA suspends Blatter's right-hand man Valcke
FIFA suspended president Sepp Blatter's right-hand man Jerome Valcke yesterday and ordered an investigation into alleged unethical conduct, throwing world football's scandal-scarred governing body into further turmoil.
Valcke, FIFA's secretary general for the past eight years under the embattled Blatter, was hours earlier the subject of allegations over a deal for black market sales of tickets to 2014 World Cup matches.
"FIFA today announced that its secretary general, Jerome Valcke, has been put on leave and released from his duties effective immediately until further notice," the governing body said in a brief statement, which did not specify details.
"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."
A call to Valcke's mobile phone was not answered late yesterday. It was unclear if he was already in Russia, where the 1,000-day countdown to the 2018 World Cup kick-off is being marked today in Red Square, Moscow.
The 55-year-old Frenchman's main duty is overseeing organisation of the world's most-watched sports event, which earned FIFA around US$5 billion for the 2014 tournament in Brazil.
An alleged deal linked to that World Cup threatens to end Valcke's FIFA career months early. The former television journalist and sports marketing executive has been scheduled to exit on February 26 with Blatter amid American and Swiss investigations of corruption.
Earlier yesterday, a former FIFA ticketing partner made allegations about Valcke supplying top-category tickets to matches in Brazil, which were sold at three times face value.
The marketing executive, Benny Alon, also made an unproven allegation that Valcke had been prepared to profit personally from the deal.
Alon circulated a contract, seen by The Associated Press, to receive 8,750 tickets in the best seats for each World Cup from 2010 to 2018.
The Israeli-American showed journalists copies of email correspondence, also seen by the AP, which appeared to show Valcke referring to potential ticket sales as "my pension fund".