RIO DE JANEIRO: Jerome Valcke, FIFA’s secretary-general, has become the latest casualty of the high-flying intercontinental pressures imposed on senior football officials writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

Frenchman Valcke was taken ill in Brazil towards the end of his latest visit to Brazil to monitor progress in the country’s much-criticised, much-delayed preparations to host the 2013 Confederations Cup and the 2014 World Cup.

His name can thus be added to a casualty list which includes illness upsets for UEFA president Michel Platini at the 2010 World Cup and CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb on his way to London for last week’s LeadersinFootball conference. Both Platini and Webb are also FIFA vice-presidents.

Questions have been raised over whether an official of the status and responsibility of FIFA’s secretary-general should also shoulder the stress and pressure of being the world federation’s World Cup progress-chaser-in-chief.

Two weeks ago Valcke reacted irritably, at  a FIFA press conference in Zurich, to questions about the kickoff times scheduled for the World Cup finals.

Valcke had been in Brazil since Tuesday for a tour of World Cup host cities. He visited Belo Horizonte on Tuesday and Porto Alegre on Wednesday, praising preparations in Belo Horizonte while expressing concerns over the state of preparatory efforts in general.

He was said to have contracted a minor infection which meant he missed Thursday’s board meeting of Brazil’s Local Organising Committee as well as the ground-breaking ceremony for a new Rio hotel.

Markus Kattner, FIFA’s deputy secretary general, deputised for Valcke at the LOC meeting and said later that Valcke was expected to stay in a Rio de Janeiro hospital “for a few days.”

Kattner added: “FIFA’s secretary-general has an infection and, on doctor’s advice, is recuperating locally at the hospital here in Rio. He is in the best hands and just needs two to three days of observation. I can confirm he is OK and there is no reason for concerns.”

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