Ex-FIFA official Valcke testifies in ban appeal

2017-10-12 01:35:20 GMT2017-10-12 09:35:20(Beijing Time) Agencies
Former FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke of France looks on outside the Court of Arbitration for Sport prior to his appeal over his 10-year ban from football in Lausanne, Switzerland, on October 11, 2017. Former FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke of France looks on outside the Court of Arbitration for Sport prior to his appeal over his 10-year ban from football in Lausanne, Switzerland, on October 11, 2017.

Fired by FIFA and banned from soccer for financial wrongdoing and excessive use of private jets, Jerome Valcke defended his record at the Court of Arbitration for Sport on Wednesday.

Valcke, the CEO-like secretary general at FIFA for eight years during Sepp Blatter's presidency, spent more than six hours at a CAS hearing in Lausanne, Switzerland, to challenge his 10-year ban.

"I tried to show that I never acted against the interests of FIFA, that I always did my job in the best possible manner," Valcke said after the hearing.

A verdict is expected within weeks.

The former TV presenter from France was a FIFA marketing executive — being fired once before in 2006 — before becoming then-president Blatter's right-hand man the next year. He was fired a second time in January 2016 after being implicated in irregular World Cup ticket and broadcast rights sales, plus expense abuses, including personal use of private flights.

That case emerged in the fallout from a United States Department of Justice indictment published in May 2015 that rocked FIFA and has removed a swathe of leaders from world soccer.

"I ask the question to myself many, many times, why such hate? Why such a desire from FIFA to destroy not only what has been done in the past but what has been done by myself?" Valcke said.

The FIFA ethics committee banned Valcke for 12 years, with an additional charge of destroying evidence. FIFA's appeal panel cut the ban by two years because it judged the broadcasting deal charge was not proven.

Valcke has denied all wrongdoing, and is also under criminal investigation by Switzerland's attorney general. Proceedings were opened against Valcke in March 2016 "on suspicion of various acts of criminal mismanagement".

Ethics case

A separate FIFA ethics case was opened in September 2016 to investigate Valcke, Blatter and former FIFA finance director Markus Kattner over contracted bonuses. Some World Cup bonuses over US$10 million were due to be paid, and had been signed off by other FIFA officials.

Valcke's main role was overseeing troubled preparations for the ultimately successful 2010 and 2014 World Cups hosted by South Africa and Brazil, respectively.

The FIFA ethics investigation was provoked by allegations in September 2015 that Valcke sought to profit from a black market ticket deal for the World Cup in Brazil. The deal, with a contracted FIFA ticketing partner, later fell through and no money was paid.

The South African connection implicated Valcke in the sweeping American investigation which eventually forced Blatter from office after more than 17 years.

In 2008, Valcke's office transferred US$10 million on behalf of South African World Cup officials to senior FIFA officials in North and Central America. American federal prosecutors allege they were payments in a bribery conspiracy for World Cup hosting votes.

Valcke declined to comment on that case on Wednesday.

"I have nothing to do with what has happened in the rest of the world," said Valcke, who turned 57 last week and is living with his family in Spain. "I am living in peace with my family and that is the one thing which remains strong in my world, and that is what I will protect."

He said he would not return to soccer even if the CAS judging panel overturns his ban.

"A chapter has ended in a brutal manner," Valcke said. "In life, you must turn the page."

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