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FIFA: Another one bites the dust, again

Soccer

FIFA has fired Jerome Valcke for a second time, cutting ties with the secretary-general four months after he was suspended while under investigation for wrongdoing at the scandal-scarred governing body.

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FIFA’s emergency committee, consisting of representatives from the regional confederations, decided to dismiss Sepp Blatter’s top aide over the weekend.

“The FIFA Emergency Committee decided, on 9 January 2016, to dismiss Jerome Valcke from the position of FIFA Secretary General with immediate effect,” the Zurich-based organisation said in a statement overnight.

Valcke’s firing stemmed from a report by accountancy firm KPMG that was commissioned some six months ago following suspicions about world football’s top administrator, according to a person with knowledge of the case. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to discuss the case in public.

Valcke’s personal conduct, including accusations about his expenses and private jet use, is the focus of the KPMG report, rather than matters concerning the integrity of games or tournaments, the person said.

In a separate FIFA ethics investigation, Valcke is also facing a nine-year ban from working in world soccer after being charged last week with accepting gifts, conflicts of interest, breaches of confidentiality and loyalty, and failing to cooperate with investigators.

Valcke, whose main duty at FIFA was overseeing organisation of the World Cup, denies wrongdoing.

The Frenchman was re-hired as secretary-general in 2007 despite being fired the previous year over his role in a sponsorship controversy.

Coming less than a month after Blatter was banned for eight years by FIFA, Valcke’s second dismissal completes the downfall of the two men who had travelled the globe on private jets and were entertained by national leaders as they ran international soccer.

Valcke was banished from FIFA in September when he was put on leave within hours of a FIFA ticketing partner alleging the former television presenter and marketing executive sought to profit from a 2014 World Cup black market ticket deal that later fell through.

Valcke had been in talks earlier in September to make an early exit from FIFA but the discussions to pay-up his multi-million dollar contract collapsed, the person with knowledge of the case said.

Then, based on interim information from KPMG, FIFA was preparing to suspend Valcke two days before the revelations about tickets, which hastened his departure rather than being the trigger, the person said.

Since then, the FIFA cases into Valcke have hardened and now he will not be returning to the governing body he ran on a day-to-day basis from 2007.

“The employment relationship between FIFA and Jerome Valcke has … been terminated,” FIFA said in its statement, with Markus Kattner continuing to serve as acting secretary-general.

As marketing director at the start of the last decade, Valcke was implicated in misleading World Cup sponsor MasterCard during contract renewal talks. FIFA and Blatter eventually signed with Visa, provoking a legal suit from MasterCard which was settled for $90 million.

Valcke’s conduct and business ethics were severely criticised by the federal judge in New York who heard the case. He swiftly returned to FIFA but has now left in disgrace.

“Jerome Valcke is proud of all that was accomplished for the game of football during his long tenure as secretary general, including two of the most successful World Cups in history in South Africa and Brazil,” Valcke’s legal team said.

“He remains confident that he will be fully vindicated and history will recognise all of his contributions to the sport he loves.”

-AP

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