ZURICH: World football federation FIFA has confirmed formally that, after president Sepp Blatter, secretary-general Jerome Valcke will also be flying to St Petersburg for the 2018 World Cup qualifying draw writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

Both men were notably absent from the concluding days of the Women’s World Cup in Canada last weekend and, previously, the World Under-20 Youth Cup in New Zealand owing to “current commitments” back at headquarters in Zurich.

Speculation in Vancouver had focused on possible concerns over action by the United States Department of Justice in its ongoing investigation into the so-called FIFAgate corruption scandal which prompted indictments against 14 senior football officials and marketing executives.

Russian officials stated on June 24 that they expected Blatter to attend the World Cup draw and a guide to the draw procedure, issued today, confirmed that the event, at the Konstantin Palace in St Petersburg, “will be conducted by FIFA’s secretary-general Jérôme Valcke.”

The made-for-TV show on July 25 will be led by supermodel Natalia Vodianova and Russian television presenter Dmitry Shepelev.