Jérôme Valcke Suspended From FIFA For 12 Years For WC Ticket Scalping, Sightseeing On Company Dime

Soccer News FIFA

FIFA’s ethics committee announced earlier today that Jérôme Valcke has been suspended from football activities for 12 years.

The former secretary-general and trusted advisor to ousted president Sepp Blatter was given that sentence following a lengthy investigation into years of financial impropriety and other misconduct. The charges included scalping World Cup tickets, shady dealings surrounding the sale of broadcast rights, and misappropriating funds from his travel expense account. He’s also accused of hampering the investigation by destroying evidence.

Valcke was fined 100,000 Swiss francs in addition to the suspension, amounting to $102,427 (with current exchange rates at press time).

The ruling from the ethics committee’s adjudicatory chamber spelled out Valcke’s profiteering at FIFA’s expense:

Among other things, the adjudicatory chamber found that a sports marketing firm had gained an undue advantage from the selling of World Cup tickets. In this respect, not only did Mr Valcke do nothing to stop these activities, he even encouraged the persons responsible to do so. Furthermore, Mr Valcke repeatedly encouraged them to breach an agreement concluded between Fifa and the sports marketing firm.

Moreover, by travelling at Fifa’s expense purely for sightseeing reasons as well as repeatedly choosing private flights for his trips over commercial flights without any business rationale for doing so, Mr Valcke gained an advantage for himself and relatives. In doing so, Mr Valcke acted against Fifa’s best interests and caused considerable financial damage to Fifa, while his private and personal interests detracted him from his ability to properly perform his duties as the secretary general of Fifa.

The chamber also found Valcke guilty of selling Caribbean broadcast rights for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to a third party at well below fair market rate, as well as deleting sensitive files despite his obligation to preserve data relevant to the investigation.

Valcke, who was placed on leave last fall after the World Cup ticket charges came to light, was a key figure in Sepp Blatter’s tumultuous administration. He served his first stint at FIFA as head of television and marketing, negotiating key broadcast deals in the early aughts. He resigned in 2006 after questions regarding contract negotiations with a major sponsor surfaced but returned a year later as the organization’s secretary-general. He was deeply involved in finalizing hosting rights for the World Cups in South Africa and Brazil as well as the negotiations to move Qatar’s World Cup to the winter in order to placate critics. Once the US DOJ investigations kicked into high gear last year, and especially after Blatter and UEFA chief Michel Platini were given lengthy bans, it seemed like a matter of time before the bell tolled for him too.

Valcke’s attorney blasted the ethics committee in a statement following the decision:

With today’s decision, the FIFA ethics committee has shown that it is not a credible, independent or objective decision-making body. In reaching an entirely unsupported, unjust and politically motivated decision, it wholly ignored the uncontroverted and exculpatory evidence that had been presented to it. Mr Valcke is confident that when all the facts come out, it will be clear he did absolutely nothing wrong in carrying out his duties for the good of FIFA and the sport.

At press time it’s unclear whether Valcke plans to appeal the decision.

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