KEIR RADNEDGE in ZURICH: German federation president Wolfgang Niersbach has insisted that Jerome Valcke should be granted the presumption of innocence over the ticket resale allegations swirling around him.

Niersbach emerged from a two-day meeting of FIFA’s executive committee to say that the fate of the world federation’s secretary-general had been merely a side issue.

Valcke, FIFA’s No2 since 2007, was put on gardening leave last week while the ethics committee investigated allegations about his conduct by a ticketing company consultant.

Niersbach, who stepped up as a UEFA delegate to the FIFA exco in May, said: “The subject was mentioned only briefly, in five sentences [by president Sepp Blatter] and that Jerome Valcke has been relieved in a temporary basis of his duties as secretary-general.

“This is an ongoing process in which he must be presumed innocent. One the one hand there certain allegations which have been brought forward and, on the other hand, there has been a clear statement that the accusations are false.”

Niersbach will be considered a leading candidate for the next president of European federation UEFA if the current president, Michel Platini, is successful in his bid for top job at the world governing body.

A successor to Blatter is due to be elected in an extraordinary congress next February 26.

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