Jerome Valcke – Sepp Blatter's outspoken right-hand man

It was the latest in a string of accusations which finally cost him his role as FIFA number two - Jerome Valcke, former loyal right-hand man of president Joseph Blatter, has often made the headlines for the wrong reasons.

AFP| Last Updated: Sep 18, 2015, 08:37 AM IST
Jerome Valcke – Sepp Blatter's outspoken right-hand man

Paris: It was the latest in a string of accusations which finally cost him his role as FIFA number two - Jerome Valcke, former loyal right-hand man of president Joseph Blatter, has often made the headlines for the wrong reasons.

The 54-year-old Frenchman was suspended by world football`s governing body on Thursday following newspaper reports implicating him in a scheme to sell thousands of tickets for the 2014 World Cup on the black market, allegations which he has denied as "fabricated and outrageous".

At the height of the corruption scandal which embroiled FIFA earlier this year, it was accusations against Valcke which led to Blatter`s decision to resign just days after his re-election for a fifth term in office.

At the centre of the accusations: what Valcke knew about a $10 million (9.1m euro) payment from the South African FA to an account controlled by the then North and Central American (CONCACAF) football chief Jack Warner through FIFA in 2008.

US investigators believe the money was a bribe in return for backing South Africa getting the 2010 World Cup.

FIFA insisted it only acted as an intermediary between South Africa and Warner who quit FIFA in 2011 over other corruption allegations, claiming the funds were part of a project "to help the African diaspora in the Caribbean".

Valcke, who also holds South African citizenship like his wife, claimed he only knew about the payment because he received all correspondence sent to FIFA but he did not authorise the transfer.Valcke`s suspension ends the meteoric rise of the former journalist through the supreme body of world football.

He started his career with French TV company Canal+ in 1984, before becoming deputy chief of sport in 1991, then chief executive officer at Sport+ from 1997 to 2002.

A tall, bespectacled man, he first joined the ranks of FIFA in June 2003 as marketing director. 

Three years later he was at the heart of a dispute between two of their sponsors -- Visa and Mastercard -- which cost the organisation $90 million.

He was dismissed by Blatter only to return six months later in June 2007, with a promotion as FIFA secretary general, moving into the position as Blatter`s number two -- the first non-Swiss to hold the post.

Valcke`s frank talking frequently landed him in hot water.

Impatient with delays on the construction site of the 2014 World Cup he caused outrage in Brazil when he said organisers needed to give themselves a "kick up the backside".He also infamously said that too much democracy could be a hindrance when organising a World Cup.

Valcke said one of the reasons FIFA had difficulties in organising the World Cup in Brazil was due to the various levels of government and he expected fewer problems for Russia 2018.

"I will say something which is crazy, but less democracy is sometimes better for organising a World Cup," he said. 

"When you have a very strong head of state who can decide, as maybe (Vladimir) Putin can do in 2018...that is easier for us organisers than a country such as Germany where you have to negotiate at different levels."

In 2011, one of his emails triggered a media storm when made public.

Valcke, speaking about Mohamed Bin Hammam, who was forced to withdraw his candidacy against Blatter for having bought votes said: "Maybe he (Bin Hammam) thought you can buy FIFA as they (the Qataris) bought the World Cup (2022)". 

The Qatar 2022 organising committee demanded "urgent" explications. 

Valcke acknowledged the email but insisted it was meant in a "lighter tone" and "less formal" as he speaking of the "financial power" of Qatar and "not vote buying".

The story has since taken another dimension as part of the probe into the controversial awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.