By Andrew Warshaw
October 12 – He was the FIFA trouble-shooter who was eventually fired himself and fell spectacularly from grace. But now Jerome Valcke, for eight years Sepp Blatter’s right-hand man, has gone public with a vigorous defence of his reputation.
Some 21 months after being sacked as FIFA’s secretary general for alleged financial impropriety over his involvement in black market ticket sales, attempting to sell TV rights below their market value plus expense abuses, Valcke took his 10-year ban from the game – reduced from its original 12 years – to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) which heard his case on Wednesday and is expected to deliver its verdict in a matter of weeks.
At the time he was banned, the FIFA ethics committee said Valcke had “acted against FIFA’s best interests and caused considerable financial damage” by taking private flights for sightseeing trips with his family at the organisation’s expense.
Ethics officials also said he “deliberately tried to obstruct the ongoing proceedings against him by attempting to delete or deleting several files and folders relevant to the investigation”.
After this week’s CAS hearing, Valcke told reporters that he tried to impress upon the CAS panel that he “never acted against the interests of FIFA, that I always did my job in the best possible manner.”
Valcke was one of the highest-profile figures either directly or indirectly snared by the US-led anti-corruption probe that brought FIFA to its knees.
“I ask the question to myself many, many times, why such hate? Why such a desire from FIFA to destroy not only what has been done in the past but what has been done by myself?” Valcke said.
He has denied all wrongdoing, but is also under criminal investigation by Switzerland’s attorney general. Proceedings were opened against Valcke in March 2016 “on suspicion of various acts of criminal mismanagement.”
In September of that same year, FIFA’s ethics investigators opened a separate investigation into the $80 million in pay rises and bonuses that Blatter, Valcke and former finance chief Markus Kattner awarded themselves over a five-year period until they were suspended or fired. Sources close to Kattner countered at the time he was thrown out that FIFA’s auditors never flagged up any wrongdoing and that the bonus programme was part of FIFA’s official compensation policy.
Throughout his time as Blatter’s number two, Valcke’s main role was overseeing the running of the often thorny 2010 and 2014 World Cup preparations hosted by South Africa and Brazil, respectively.
He is now living with his family in Spain “in peace” and said he would not return to football even if CAS rules in his favour. “A chapter has ended in a brutal manner,” Valcke said. “In life, you must turn the page.”
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