GENEVA — FIFA suspended its top official Jerome Valcke and ordered an investigation into alleged unethical conduct Thursday, throwing world soccer’s scandal-scarred governing body into further turmoil.
Valcke, FIFA’s secretary general for the past eight years under president Sepp Blatter, was hours earlier the subject of allegations over a deal for 2014 FIFA World Cup ticket sales on the black market.
“FIFA today announced that its Secretary General Jerome Valcke has been put on leave and released from his duties effective immediately until further notice,” it said in a brief statement which did not specify details. “Further, FIFA has been made aware of a series of allegations involving the secretary general and has requested a formal investigation by the FIFA Ethics Committee.”
Earlier Thursday, a former FIFA ticketing partner made allegations about being supplied by Valcke to sell top-tier World Cup tickets to matches in Brazil at three times face value.
The marketing executive, Benny Alon, also made an unproven allegation that Valcke had been prepared to profit personally from the deal.
Valcke, a 55-year-old Frenchman, rose to the top administrative job at FIFA soon after being fired in 2006 during a scandal.
As marketing director, he was implicated in allegedly misleading World Cup sponsor Mastercard during contract renewal talks.
FIFA and Blatter eventually signed with Visa, provoking a legal suit from Mastercard which football’s governing body settled for $90 million.
Valcke’s conduct and business ethics were severely criticized by a New York judge who heard the case.
FIFA fired Valcke and other marketing officials involved in the deal, then re-hired him several months later as secretary general after Blatter was re-elected president.
FIFA has been in crisis since dual American and Swiss investigations of corruption implicating senior officials were revealed in May.
Valcke is scheduled to leave FIFA on Feb. 26 with Blatter, and acknowledged that the next FIFA president should appoint his own secretary general to have a fresh start for a new administration.
Thumbnail photo via Hassan Ammar/The Associated Press
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