ZURICH: Jerome Valcke, former secretary-general of world football federation FIFA, has appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport against his 10-year ban from football writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

Valcke enjoyed a high-level career in sports marketing before being appointed to the No2 job in Zurich in the summer of 2007. He was sacked at the start of last year after already having been suspended in 2015 following allegations concerning a World Cup tickets resale.

The case against 56-year-old Frenchman was exacerbated by further allegations concerning the abuse of travel expenses, the sale of TV rights and destruction of evidence.  He remains under criminal investigation by federal prosecutors in Switzerland.

Valcke, who has always vehemently denied wrongdoing, was originally banned for 12 years by the FIFA ethics chamber and fined 100,000 Swiss francs (£70,800), though the length of the ban was later reduced by the governing body’s appeal committee.

He thus crashed to earth for a second time. In January 2007 he was removed as marketing director after being accused of telling lies to a United States court over the back-stabbing of MasterCard to enable FIFA to take up a sponsorship with Visa.

Valcke was then re-hired as secretary-general by then president Sepp Blatter in the summer of 2007 after what had been initially considered a sacking was revealed as mere ‘gardening leave.’

In 2015 Valcke became a target of American FIFAGate investigators over a $10m payment made by the 2010 South African World Cup organisers to Warner in 2008. Valcke had effected the payment but claimed he was only obeying orders from the late Julio Grondona, then FIFA’s finance chairman.

Valcke signalled his impending departure from FIFA at a news conference on the eve of the World Cup qualifying draw in St Petersburg in July 2015. It is understood he was already negotiating the terms of his departure but had failed to reach agreement over his demand for a comprehensive legal indemnity.

Then, in September, the tickets scandal exploded. A Zurich company, JB Sports Marketing, claimed it had been misled by Valcke over a contract with FIFA to sell VIP ticket packages for the 2013 Confederations Cup and 2014 World Cup.

Valcke had been heading for Russia to attend events marking 1,000 days to the country’s staging of the 2018 World Cup finals when his charter flight was turned around in mid-air. He was ‘relieved of his duties’ which were taken over on an interim basis by finance director Markus Kattner.

On October 8 Valcke was suspended for 90 days by FIFA’s ethics committee pending a full investigation.

Increased sanction

Initially ethics prosecutor Cornel Borbely had sought a nine-year ban for Valcke but judge Hans-Joachim Eckert judged the offences so serious that he delivered a 12-year suspension plus the SFr 100,000 fine.

An ethics statement indicated that it was during the World Cup tickets investigation that other issues emerged. These included “travelling at FIFA’s expense purely for sightseeing reasons as well as repeatedly choosing private flights for his trips over commercial flights without any business rationale.”

Valcke thus “gained an advantage for himself and relatives . . . and caused considerable financial damage to FIFA, while his private and personal interests detracted from his ability to properly perform his duties as the secretary-general.”

Borbely also accused Valcke of attempting to grant TV rights for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups in the Caribbean “to a third party” for a fee far below market value.

Finally, with Bornely closing in, Valcke tried to delete files and folders of potentially incriminating evidence off his computers.

The professional tragedy for Valcke is that, without his commitment and persistence, neither the 2010 or 2014 World Cups would have been staged to the necessary standards in South Africa and Brazil respectively.