For­mer FIFA of­fi­cial Val­cke tes­ti­fies in soc­cer ban ap­peal

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

LAU­SANNE: For­mer FIFA sec­re­tary gen­eral Jerome Val­cke is tes­ti­fy­ing at the Court of Ar­bi­tra­tion for Sport to chal­lenge a 10-year ban from soc­cer for un­eth­i­cal con­duct. The CAS ap­peal hear­ing on Wed­nes­day is ex­pected to last eight hours. A ver­dict is likely within weeks.

Val­cke, who was a FIFA mar­ket­ing ex­ec­u­tive be­fore be­com­ing then-Pres­i­dent Sepp Blat­ter’s right-hand man in 2007, de­clined to com­ment to me­dia out­side the court. Val­cke was fired by FIFA in Jan­uary 2016 after be­ing im­pli­cated in ir­reg­u­lar World Cup ticket and broad­cast rights sales, plus ex­pense abuses in­clud­ing per­sonal use of pri­vate flights.

The FIFA ethics com­mit­tee banned him for 12 years, with an ad­di­tional charge of de­stroy­ing ev­i­dence. FIFA’s ap­peal panel cut the ban by two years be­cause it judged the broad­cast­ing deal charge was not proven.

Val­cke, a French for­mer TV pre­sen­ter, de­nies wrong­do­ing and is also un­der crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion by Switzer­land’s at­tor­ney gen­eral. Pro­ceed­ings were opened against Val­cke in March 2016 “on sus­pi­cion of var­i­ous acts of crim­i­nal mis­man­age­ment.”

A sep­a­rate FIFA ethics case was opened in Septem­ber 2016 to in­ves­ti­gate Val­cke, Blat­ter and for­mer FIFA fi­nance di­rec­tor Markus Kat­tner over con­tracted bonuses. Some World Cup bonuses over $10 mil­lion were due to be paid, and had been signed off by other FIFA of­fi­cials.

Val­cke’s main role was over­see­ing the trou­bled prepa­ra­tions for the ul­ti­mately suc­cess­ful 2010 and 2014 World Cups hosted by South Africa and Brazil, re­spec­tively. The FIFA ethics in­ves­ti­ga­tion was pro­voked by al­le­ga­tions in Septem­ber 2015 that Val­cke sought to profit from a black mar­ket ticket deal for the World Cup in Brazil. The deal, with a con­tracted FIFA tick­et­ing part­ner, later fell through and no money was paid.

The South African con­nec­tion im­pli­cated Val­cke in the US Depart­ment of Jus­tice in­dict­ment which has rocked FIFA, and even­tu­ally removed Blat­ter, since it was pub­lished in May 2015. In 2008, Val­cke’s of­fice trans­ferred $10 mil­lion on be­half of South African World Cup of­fi­cials to se­nior FIFA of­fi­cials in North and Cen­tral Amer­ica. Amer­i­can fed­eral prose­cu­tors al­lege they were pay­ments in a bribery con­spir­acy for World Cup host­ing votes. — AP

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