K E I R R A D N E D G E R E P O R T I N G
—- Jerome Valcke, FIFA’s secretary-general, has denied vehemently any conflict of interest over his former role as a paid consultant when Brazil was preparing its bid to host the 2014 World Cup finals.
Valcke, a long-time friend of former scandal-swamped Brazilian football supremo Ricardo Teixeira, had been commissioned by the CBF in February 2007. Folha of Sao Paulo reported he was paid a $100,000 fee.
At the time the 52-year-old Frenchman was out of work. He had been relieved of his role as FIFA’s marketing and TV director in the embarrassing fall-out from the decision to drop MasterCard as a World Cup sponsor and sign up Visa.
FIFA and MasterCard had agreed a $90m settlement after a judge in a New York district court described Valcke’s credibility as “totally destroyed.” Valcke (and three colleagues) left FIFA in mid-December 2006 though Blatter always insisted that he had not been dismissed.
In fact, FIFA and MasterCard did not conclude the final financial agreement until June 2007.
In the meantime, Valke was free to undertake whatever commissions came his way, Brazil’s World Cup bid being an important one.
Asked this week about his Brazil World Cup connection, Valcke said: “I worked for about three months. I travelled to Sao Paulo two or three times, I offered commercial advice. I was out of FIFA at the time and could do whatever I wanted.
“When I returned to FIFA, as secretary-general, I stopped working for the committee. There was no conflict of interests, I did nothing wrong. I just helped this group of people just to make sure that their bid was the nicest one.
“They are making a big story out of nothing. This is a non-story.”
FIFA’s now-abandoned rotation system had long since allocated the 2014 finals to South America. Argentina and Colombia considered bidding but pulled back on the eve of a meeting in March, 2004, of the South American football confederation (CONMEBOL).
Only Brazil registered an interest and CONMEBOL thus nominated it as the continent’s sole official candidate. FIFA’s executive committee voted to declare Brazil officially as 2014 host on October 30, 2007.
Valcke said that he had informed FIFA president Sepp Blatter of his work when he returned to FIFA as general secretary (the original title of his role) in June 2007 in place of Urs Linsi. Folha suggested that Teixeira had played a significant role in Valcke’s return ‘home.’
Valcke attended the October exco but did not contribute to the discussion and, as a paid official, did not have a vote.
He said: “It was all very transparent.”
Valcke was also mentioned, in passing, in the ‘Qatargate’ report earlier this week by France Football.
The report by the bi-weekly Paris magazine queried both the Gulf state’s successful bid for the 2022 World Cup finals and the support it received from the French UEFA president Michel Platini.
A reference was made to an email comment by Valcke, to former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner, that Qatar had “bought the World Cup.” Later Valcke said the reference was merely a comment on Qatar’s massive promotional expenditure.
Valcke refused to comment on the magazine article, insisting that FIFA ethics prosecutor Michael Garcia was the only man qualified to address the case.
He added: “If there’s anything which has to be investigated, the ethics committee and the new ethics committee of FIFA, which is totally independent with this investigatory chamber and Michael Garcia, can open, if they wish, a case on Qatar 2022. It’s not to me to say what I think about it.”
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