FIFA cuts ties with secretary general Valcke

Former FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke. (Dmitry Lovetsky/AP)

LONDON — FIFA has fired Jerome Valcke for the 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.

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

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, a person with knowledge of the case told The Associated Press on Wednesday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized 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 co-operate with investigators.

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

The Frenchman was re-hired by 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 that 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 told the AP.

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 Wednesday's statement.

Markus Kattner will continue to serve as acting secretary general amid unanswered questions about some of his FIFA work.

For legal reasons, Kattner said last month "I am not allowed to answer" when asked about his role of finance director and why FIFA authorized a 2 million Swiss franc ($2 million) payment to Michel Platini, which led to the UEFA president being banned from soccer for eight years along with Blatter. Kattner has not been accused of wrongdoing in any cases and is leading preparations from FIFA's side for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

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 criticized 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 told the AP on Wednesday.

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