FIFA suspends Jerome Valcke over World Cup ticket allegations

FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke, Sepp Blatter’s right-hand man, has been suspended pending an investigation into allegations the organization was implicated in the World Cup ticket scheme.

Emails and documents seen by the press association Sport show that Valcke was aware that a Swiss marketing company was selling World Cup and Confederations Cup tickets at almost five times their face value.

FIFA said in a statement: “FIFA announced today that its Secretary-General, Jérôme Valcke, has been placed on leave and relieved of his duties with immediate effect until further notice. A series has been made aware and requested a formal investigation by the FIFA Ethics Committee.”

Earlier on Thursday, a former ticketing partner accused FIFA of selling top-tier World Cup tickets at three times the face value.

Emails and documents show that Valcke signed a contract with Swiss firm JB Sports Marketing AG for category one tickets for several matches. In April 2013, JB advisor Benny Alon said in an email to Valcke’s personal email address that some tickets had been sold for up to five times the face value. But months later, in December of that year, the contract was terminated.

Alone claims he sent Valcke an email in April 2013 detailing how much was being made on each ticket – the largest mark-up being 50 tickets for a second round match in São Paulo, which fetched $230. The face value of each is being sold for $1,300. , Elon says in email: “We made US$114,000 on each in Germany.”

Valcke is understood to have vehemently denied having sought or received money for the deal with JB. It is also understood that Valcke insisted that FIFA terminate the agreement with JB when they realized that Alone was selling tickets for the 2014 World Cup at more than face value. However, there is no explanation for the delay in any action.

Allon has claimed that his company sold tickets on the open market and not the black market, with transportation to the venue or prematch meals being used to justify the extra cost. However this practice clashed with MATCH, FIFA’s official hospitality partners, and violated Brazilian law, and Valcke told JB that the contract had to be signed with MATCH. An email from Valcke warns that otherwise they could be committing a criminal offense.

Email to Elon in December 2013: “You, we have no choice. Otherwise the deal will be canceled by FIFA or we will all face a criminal offense individually. This is not a joke. This is very serious. So Avoid a lot of advice. Just do it if I may use the slogan of a company involved. All is clear and it is yet to be finalized. Thanks. Jerome.”

Alon also told Press Association Sport that he had sold tickets for the 2010 World Cup final in Johannesburg – justifying the high price by including a golf match as part of the deal.

Valcke has been the right-hand man of FIFA Secretary General and outgoing president Sepp Blatter since 2007. He previously served as FIFA’s director of marketing between 2003 and 2006, but left the organization after a sponsorship deal with Visa and Mastercard fell through. in US courts — only to return to FIFA eight months later.

This report used information from The Associated Press.

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