Blat­ter’s No 2 is the next to bite the dust

CityPress - - Sport -

An­other Fifa big­wig bites the dust.

The ca­reer of the man who was un­til re­cently the world foot­ball gov­ern­ing body’s sec­re­tary-gen­eral, Jérôme Val­cke, this week ended in dis­grace af­ter the as­so­ci­a­tion’s ethics com­mit­tee banned him for 12 years.

The re­moval of the 55-year-old from Fifa fol­lows less than two months af­ter his for­mer pres­i­dent, Sepp Blat­ter, and Uefa coun­ter­part Michel Pla­tini were ban­ished from foot­ball for eight years each.

This is the se­cond time the one-time pow­er­wield­ing Val­cke crashed to earth, af­ter he was re­moved as the mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor at Fifa in 2007.

On Fri­day, the Fifa ethics com­mit­tee sent the flam­boy­ant French­man pack­ing for breach­ing seven counts of the Fifa ethics code.

Among other fail­ings, Val­cke was found to have re­peat­edly cho­sen pri­vate flights over com­mer­cial ones “with­out any busi­ness ra­tio­nale for do­ing so” and he at­tempted to grant the TV and me­dia rights for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to a third party “for a fee far below their ac­tual value”.

In 2007, Val­cke was ac­cused of dis­hon­esty by a US judge dur­ing con­tract ne­go­ti­a­tions with fi­nan­cial ser­vices gi­ant MasterCard, when he was in charge of Fifa’s mar­ket­ing.

Sepp Blat­ter (Fifa pres­i­dent) and Michel Pla­tini

(Fifa vice-pres­i­dent)

Both have been sus­pended for eight years from all foot­ball-re­lated ac­tiv­i­ties fol­low­ing an ethics in­ves­ti­ga­tion that con­cluded they demon­strated the “abu­sive ex­e­cu­tion” of their po­si­tions.

Chuck Blazer (ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee mem­ber)

Turned whis­tle-blower for the FBI and has been banned from foot­ball for life af­ter plead­ing guilty to charges of bribery, money laun­der­ing and tax eva­sion.

Jef­frey Webb (Fifa vice-pres­i­dent)

Pleaded guilty to rack­e­teer­ing con­spir­acy, three counts of wire fraud and money laun­der­ing con­spir­a­cies. He agreed to for­feit more than $6.7 mil­lion.

Juan Án­gel Napout (Fifa ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee mem­ber)

Re­leased on $20 mil­lion bail af­ter he pleaded not guilty to charges of rack­e­teer­ing, con­spir­acy and wire fraud.

In hand­ing down its judg­ment on Fri­day, the com­mit­tee – chaired by Ger­man judge Hans-Joachim Eck­ert – also found that Val­cke had at­tempted to “delete or [deleted] sev­eral files and fold­ers rel­e­vant to the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, de­spite be­ing aware of his duty to pre­serve all data and to col­lab­o­rate in or­der to es­tab­lish the facts of the case”. Val­cke has con­sis­tently de­nied any wrong­do­ing. His lawyer Barry Berke said in a state­ment that “the Fifa ethics com­mit­tee has shown that it is not a cred­i­ble, in­de­pen­dent or ob­jec­tive de­ci­sion-mak­ing body”.

Val­cke, who con­sid­ered stand­ing for the Fifa pres­i­dency to suc­ceed Blat­ter later this month, was among the se­nior ex­ec­u­tives im­pli­cated in the on­go­ing “Fifa­gate” scan­dal.

He was ac­cused of be­ing party to an al­leged $10 mil­lion bribe paid to ex-Con­fed­er­a­tion of North, Cen­tral Amer­i­can and Caribbean As­so­ci­a­tion Foot­ball head Jack Warner, in re­turn for his vote and back­ing for South Africa’s ul­ti­mately suc­cess­ful bid to host the 2010 World Cup. The US and Swiss crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions are con­tin­u­ing. Since Val­cke’s oust­ing, Fifa fi­nance di­rec­tor Markus Kat­tner has been the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s act­ing sec­re­tary-gen­eral.

Val­cke, whose ban came into force im­me­di­ately, has the right to ap­peal to Fifa and later to the court of ar­bi­tra­tion for sport.

– City Press Sport

PHOTO: JAMIE SQUIRE / GETTY IM­AGES

BIRDS OF A FEATHER Banned Fifa big­wigs Sepp Blat­ter (left) and Jérôme Val­cke

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