FIFA, international soccer’s governing body, indefinitely suspended Secretary General Jerome Valcke Thursday amid allegations of corruption related to a World Cup ticket scam. Valcke’s suspension came as FIFA attempts to reassure corporate sponsors after the unprecedented indictments of nine current and former soccer executives on separate corruption charges.
“FIFA today announced that its Secretary General Jerome Valcke has been put on leave and released from his duties effective immediately until further notice. Further FIFA has been made aware of a series of allegations involving the secretary general and has requested a formal investigation by the FIFA Ethics Committee,” the federation said in a statement obtained by Buzzfeed News.
The announcement of Valcke’s suspension came hours after a consultant for JB Sports Marketing, a company contracted to sell tickets for the 2014 World Cup games in Brazil, accused Valcke of involvement in an illicit plan to sell the tickets above face value. During a meeting with the Guardian, the Wall Street Journal and other news outlets, the consultant, Benny Alon, said Valcke was slated to personally profit from the deal, which FIFA eventually withdrew from due to concerns about potential violations of Brazilian law. Valcke has denied any wrongdoing in the case.
— Guardian sport (@guardian_sport) September 17, 2015
As FIFA’s secretary general, Valcke has worked closely with outgoing FIFA President Sepp Blatter since 2007. Both men are to leave office next February, when FIFA reconvenes its congress for a special presidential election.
Working with Swiss authorities, the U.S. Justice Department announced the indictments in May of 14 officials, including nine current and former FIFA executives, on bribery charges related to the sale of media rights. Neither Blatter nor Valcke was among those indicted, though they have remained under close scrutiny. Authorities did tie Valcke to an alleged $10 million bribe in 2008, but he denied any wrongdoing in connection with the transfer, the New York Times reported.
Several top sponsors, including Visa and Coca-Cola, called on FIFA to enact meaningful reforms to address rampant corruption within the organization. FIFA created a 12-person committee, led by former Olympic official Francois Carrard, to provide recommendations for reform by November.