It’s only been a few weeks since Jerome Valcke suggested that he may run for the FIFA presidency. The Secretary General of football’s governing body was reported to have spoken to several delegates and federations to see if they would back his bid. His dream however to take over FIFA’s top job dissolved yesterday when he was relieved of his current role due to allegations that have surfaced about his involvement in yet another FIFA scandal. Valcke’s suspension pending an investigation is the direct result of revelations that Valcke was involved in a scheme to sell World Cup tickets over face value. The Frenchman who has been with FIFA since 2007 has denied his involvement but with the FBI likely to take notice, it’s unlikely that this will disappear without any further action. Valcke, along with Sepp Blatter have been the subject of much interest from the US-based domestic intelligence and security service who are stepping up their corruption case against FIFA.
With Sepp Blatter already stepping down next year, it was expected that Valcke would follow suit but the Frenchman decided against better judgement to ride it out, pleading his innocence and lack of involvement in any wrongdoings. But now the net is tightening around him forcing Valcke to constantly look over his shoulder. It is surprising that it has taken this long for Valcke to depart given allegations a few months ago about an illegal payment of $10 million made to secure the 2010 World Cup for South Africa. Valcke was on route to Moscow for a meeting about the 2018 World Cup when his plane was turned around and told to return to Zürich. He was immediately suspended and removed from his position by Sepp Blatter.
It’s the latest black mark against FIFA whose hierarchy is slowly being picked off by the FBI one by one. Their end goal is to arrest and charge all those responsible for corruption within the organization starting at the bottom and working their way to the top with Blatter in their sights. To date they have arrested eight members of the FIFA executive committee including Jeffrey Webb, FIFA’s vice president. Their extradition from Switzerland to the US is underway with the help of the Swiss authorities who made the arrests in May, As yet, the FBI doesn’t have enough to arrest Valcke or Blatter but this latest revelation may give them a new angle to pursuit. They believe that if they can get Blatter’s top advisers to crack then they will in turn give the FBI enough information for them to build a sizable case against the man they actually want, FIFA president Sepp Blatter.
Blatter must believe that an arrest is coming as he has changed his plans on several occasions to prevent him from leaving Switzerland. He decided against travelling to Canada for the Women’s World Cup in fear of an arrest by the US and is debating whether or not to hold FIFA’S next executive committee meeting in Japan at the end of December. Having admitted defeat in his decision to stay on as president, Blatter would have been hoping to slip into retirement quietly rather than facing potential jail time. At 79 years young, Blatter now lives in fear of what is coming next and rightly so. Valcke is likely to be next in line to be questioned by the FBI and Blatter will be worried that his former right hand man may end up singing like a canary in order to save himself and in doing so sell Blatter down the river. Blatter’s decision to sack Valcke this week will have destroyed any relationship the pair may have had previously which could be costly for the FIFA president in the future.
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