Top FIFA Executive Jérôme Valcke Placed on Leave Amid Corruption Investigation


Jérôme Valcke, the second-ranking official atFIFA, was placed on immediate leave and will be investigated for allegations of corruption involving the black-market sale of World Cup tickets, the association announced Thursday.

FIFA, global soccer’s governing body, announced Mr. Valcke’s departure in a brief statement posted on its website. It said that Mr. Valcke had been relieved of his duties effective immediately and that FIFA had been “made aware of a series of allegations involving the secretary general and has requested a formal investigation by the FIFA Ethics Committee.”

Mr. Valcke has served as secretary general of FIFA for eight years, essentially acting as the top deputy to Sepp Blatter, the embattled president of the organization. Mr. Blatter announced in June that he would step down next year after a series of investigations into the activities of leading soccer executives resulted in arrests.

Mr. Valcke has previously denied any wrongdoing or unethical behavior. The latest claims were made by Benny Alon, a former soccer player and longtime consultant involved with the sale of tickets and tourist packages for high-end sporting events.

Mr. Alon charged that Mr. Valcke was directly involved in, and stood to profit from, a scheme to sell tickets for prices well above face value for matches at World Cup tournaments. Mr. Alon and his associates also said that Mr. Valcke and FIFA reneged on a contract with Mr. Alon’s company that gave it the rights to sell World Cup tickets at the 2014 tournament, costing the company money.

Mr. Alon made those claims, and others, at a press briefing in Zurich on Thursday in which he and his colleagues showed members of the news media documents, including email exchanges between Mr. Alon and Mr. Valcke. The New York Times received some of the documents ahead of the meeting, and a review found that some did suggest a relationship between Mr. Valcke and Mr. Alon, though the documents were incomplete and open to interpretation.

“Jérôme Valcke unequivocally denies the fabricated and outrageous accusations by Benny Alon of alleged wrongdoing in connection with the sale of World Cup tickets,” Mr. Valcke’s lawyer, Barry Berke of Kramer Levin, said in a statement Thursday. “Mr. Valcke never received or agreed to accept any money or anything else of value from Mr. Alon.

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