Fifa secretary general Jerome Valcke has been suspended amid allegations of corruption that surfaced on Thursday, which suggested he attempted to profit from inflated World Cup ticket prices.
Sepp Blatter’s right-hand man – who has held his lofty position within Fifa since 2007 – has been accused of agreeing a deal with JB Marketing to keep 50 per cent of their World Cup 2014 ticket profits, which would have pocketed him over €2 million.
Brazilian outlet Estadao published a string of emails between Valcke and former JB Marketing consultant Benny Alon, who has attempted to blow the whistle on a deal struck in 2010 to sell tickets at the Confederations Cup and World Cup for prices four times what they should have been.
Valcke is alleged to have initially embraced the opportunity to pocket extra cash via the scheme, then had second thoughts upon considering a Fifa presidential race, and finally pulled the plug by telling JB Marketing’s consultant that the scheme was illegal.
No tickets are believed to have been sold and the Guardian claim Valcke is insistent ties were cut due to tickets being sold above face value, but questions have been raised as to why that happened eight months after the secretary general was informed of the practise.
The world football governing body reacted a few hours after the publication of the explosive allegations by removing Valcke from all duties with immediate effect pending an investigation.
“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 world football governing body said in a press release.
“Further, Fifa has been made aware of a series of allegations involving the secretary general and has requested a formal investigation by the ethics committee.”
It has been a terrible 2015 for Fifa, which has endured a public relations nightmare during its presidential race, culminating in over a dozen FBI indictments on the morning of the elections.
Valcke also came under fire during that turbulent couple of weeks due to allegations he knew of a payment of $10 million in 2008 to disgraced former Fifa vice-president Jack Warner – a payment which the FBI had branded a bribe.
Blatter resigned in early June and a new election has been scheduled for February 2016 to decide the Swiss’ successor.
Fifa was subsequently mocked upon the release of its self-funded, self-aggrandising film which depicts the organisation as benevolent and pure, with Blatter portrayed as a women’s football-loving, equality-obsessed hero.