KEIR RADNEDGE in ZURICH: FIFA’s official ticketing and hospitality partner has offered its full co-operation into the inquiry following allegations against Jerome Valcke.
The French secretary-general of the world football federation was ‘relieved of his duties’ last week after claims that he had been involved in a proposed deal on the secondary tickets market for the 2014 World Cup. Valcke has vehemently denied any wrongdoing and is now subject to an ethics committee investigation.
MATCH Hospitality is one of two subsidiaries of the UK-based Byrom group contracted by FIFA. The one, MATCH Hospitality, was FIFA’s official partner for hospitality at the 2013 Confederations Cup and 2014 World Cup, while a similarly-named sister company was in charge of the ticketing operation.
The allegations concerning Valcke’s involvement came from Benny Alon, an Arizona-based Israeli-American who had been a long-time consultant to a Zurich-based company JB Sports Marketing. He said that, after believing he had negotiated a tickets-purchasing agreement direct with Valcke, he was advised suddenly to deal instead with MATCH.
Alon is a golfing and skiing friend of the UEFA president Michel Platini, anothr Frenchman and who is favourite to succeed Sepp Blatter as FIFA president next February 26; Valcke had reportedly been considering whether he should run for the presidency.
MATCH, obviously eager to protect its own relationship with FIFA which already extends to the 2018 World Cup in Russia, has already contacted Markus Kattner, FIFA’s finance director who has taken over as acting general secretary.
It had told Kattner it was ready “to assist [and] fully cooperate” with the ethics committee.
A statement added: “MATCH Hospitality is confident that the independent FIFA Ethics Committee will duly examine:
“MATCH Hospitality’s status as exclusive provider of hospitality services and exclusive rights holder for the FIFA Confederations Cup 2013 and the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil;
“MATCH Hospitality’s and [owner/director] Jaime Byrom’s efforts to fully comply with all contractual obligations under the various agreements pertaining to this matter.”