Commentary

What's Next for Valcke and the FIFA Scandal?

Bloomberg News on Friday reported that Jerome Valcke, FIFA President Sepp Blatter’s No 2, pushed soccer’s world governing body to a multi-million-dollar payoff and assurances that he wouldn’t be pursued for damages in exchange for stepping down as the organization’s general secretary, according to unnamed sources.

One of the sources claims that Valcke, who had announced that he planned to leave FIFA alongside Blatter in February, recently told soccer’s governing body that he wished to depart sooner, and that he also wanted millions of dollars more than he was entitled to under his current contract as well as legal protection -- if, you know, the shit ever really did hit the fan in the ever-widening FIFA scandal. Apparently, Blatter was unhappy with the Frenchman’s move and thus, refused to sign his severance deal.

Step forward Benny Alon, an Israeli-American ticket seller, who held a press conference on Thursday in which he implicated Valcke in a scheme to sell World Cup tickets at inflated prices.

Of course, Valcke’s severance negotiations had nothing to do with the allegations that surfaced against him on Thursday, but as a result of the allegations, FIFA promptly suspended Valcke and placed him on indefinite leave.

It follows that, now, Valcke will probably not get the payoff he was looking for.

In any event, FIFA on Thursday said it had been made aware of “a series of allegations” against the 54-year-old and was now pursuing an internal ethics investigation. You’ll recall that Valcke was also linked to a $10 million payment U.S. prosecutors contend was a bribe by South African officials for being chosen to host the 2010 tournament. Valcke maintains that it was a legitimate development project (Note: we’ve already laughed at this).

So, what did Blatter have to say after the downfall of his right-hand man? "Please be assured that FIFA remains confident of its ability to recover from the present difficult situation and to restore its reputation for the good of the game," the Swiss president said in an email to the organization’s staff members on Friday. "I urge you all to continue your hard work to develop, promote and celebrate the game we love."

Is it just Off The Post, or does Blatter sound tired? The earnest-seeming energy he usually puts behind these kinds of statements seems to be on the wane, no 

In any event, you can’t help but wonder if Blatter is somehow behind the Alon press conference. More likely, it was payback by UEFA president Michel Platini to discredit Valcke after FIFA editors tried to smear Blatter's heir apparent. Alon and Platini have been close friends and golf partners for years. The upshot is Valcke will now be a target for Swiss and American authorities looking for a high-ranking FIFA official to talk. If Valcke does talk, the whole house of cards could come rapidly down. In any event, it’s important to note that as of Saturday morning, Valcke hasn’t been charged with anything, although selling tickets at inflated prices is illegal in Brazil.

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