Jerome Valcke

FIFA anti-corruption
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FIFA open to help fund anti-corruption agency for sports

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VIENNA — FIFA would help fund a global agency to tackle corruption in sport, its president Gianni Infantino said Monday.

Creating a body like the World Anti-Doping Agency to address financial corruption, match-fixing and the influence of organized crime in sport has been talked about for more than a decade without a detailed proposal.

“We at FIFA are ready to invest in it,” Infantino said, suggesting “maybe the creation of such an agency would help make sport safe in the decades to come.”

[ MORE: Neymar says racism led to PSG-Marseille fight ]

As Infantino spoke at a United Nations event in Austria, the corruption trial was opening in Switzerland of three men, including Qatari soccer and television executive Nasser al-Khelaifi and former FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke.

Their case arose from years-long American and Swiss investigations of suspected corruption in soccer that removed a generation of international leaders from office and helped lift Infantino to the FIFA presidency in 2016.

His funding pledge was made when signing a cooperation agreement between FIFA and the Vienna-based UN Office on Drugs and Crime, which connects international officials and programs.

Speakers at the event included diplomats from Russia and Qatar, winners of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosting votes in 2010 that FIFA later asked Swiss federal prosecutors to investigate.

No convictions have been secured in Switzerland, though criminal proceedings are also open against Infantino’s predecessor Sepp Blatter and former UEFA President Michel Platini for alleged mismanagement of FIFA funds not directly linked to World Cup bidding. They were questioned in the past two weeks.

“Never again. Never again corruption in football,” said Infantino, who is himself under investigation in Switzerland over meetings he had with then-attorney general Michael Lauber.

Lauber left office two weeks ago after being disciplined for failing to declare a June 2017 meeting with Infantino where he took no notes and misleading a subsequent internal investigation.

Swiss supreme court dismisses Valcke’s FIFA ban appeal

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GENEVA (AP) — The Swiss supreme court has rejected an appeal by former FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke against a 10-year ban from soccer for financial wrongdoing.

The decision was published Friday , showing the 58-year-old Valcke had argued that his punishment was excessive, and that he was denied a fair trial at the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Valcke was ordered to pay 18,000 Swiss francs ($17,900) in federal court costs and 20,000 Swiss francs ($19,900) to FIFA.

FIFA said in a statement it “welcomes the Swiss Federal Tribunal judgment” on its former marketing director and top administrator.

Valcke remains the subject of two ongoing criminal proceedings opened by Swiss federal prosecutors. A separate FIFA ethics investigation was opened in September 2016 into salaries and bonuses paid to top officials.

The right-hand man to former FIFA president Sepp Blatter from 2007 until September 2015 had challenged a CAS ruling to uphold his FIFA ban and a fine of 100,000 Swiss francs ($99,500).

The FIFA ethics committee charged him in relation to irregular World Cup ticket sales, expense abuses including personal use of private jets, and trying to destroy evidence. Valcke, who denies all wrongdoing, told CAS he followed advice from Blatter by taking a private flight to the 2018 World Cup qualifying draw in Russia to avoid the risk of arrest.

The evidence emerged in fallout from sweeping investigations by American and Swiss federal prosecutors, which were revealed in May 2015. Those cases removed a generation of soccer leaders from FIFA, and from continental soccer bodies in Europe and the Americas.

The Swiss proceedings are ongoing, and include an allegation that Valcke was bribed by Qatari television executive Nasser al-Khelaifi with the use of a luxury villa in Italy in a World Cup broadcast rights deal. Al-Khelaifi, the president of French champion Paris Saint-Germain, was also implicated in the case in 2017 and denies wrongdoing. He has since been appointed to the UEFA executive committee.

Swiss investigators open World Cup bribery case against Al-Khelaifi, Valcke

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Swiss prosecutors have opened an investigation against Paris Saint-Germain president and BeIN Media Group CEO Nasser Al-Khelafi on suspected bribery charges with regards to World Cup media rights, the office of Switzerland’s attorney general announced on Thursday.

The announcement claimed the investigation reaches into France, Greece, Italy and Spain, and that authorities have already searched properties to find key evidence.

Also named in the investigation are FIFA itself, and former FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke who was fired and banned from FIFA alongside Sepp Blatter in January of 2016. The announcement read:

“It is suspected that Jerome Valcke accepted undue advantages from a businessman in the sports rights sector in connection with the award of media rights for certain countries at the Fifa World Cups in 2018, 2022, 2026 and 2030 and from Nasser al-Khelaifi in connection with the award of media rights for certain countries at the Fifa World Cups in 2026 and 2030,”

Valcke has been publicly under investigation by Swiss authorities since March of last year, when they announced he was suspected of criminal mismanagement.

BeIN Media Group and BeIN Sports confirmed their French office was searched by the Swiss authorities, and that they cooperated with all requests. They were quick, however, to issue a sweeping denial of all allegations, saying, “BeIN Media Group refutes all allegations made by OAG [Attorney General of Switzerland]. The company will fully cooperate with the authorities and is confident as to the future developments of this investigation.”

FIFA released a short statement saying, in part, “FIFA has constituted itself as a damaged party in this investigation.”

Valcke did not respond to requests for a statement, and Paris Saint-Germain declined to comment, according to the Associated Press.

Surprise! Sepp Blatter might have illegally taken money from FIFA

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Perhaps Probably Look, I know the above headline definitely didn’t take you by surprise — at all.

[ MORE: The FIFA fiasco never, ever, ever ends ]

It’s a pretty widely belief — since, roughly, about the middle of the aughts — that Sepp Blatter, among others, partook in some pretty shady dealings over nearly two full decades as the head of world football’s governing body.

The important thing, now, is that FIFA — or, the new folks in charge of FIFA — also believe this to be true — or, at the very minimum, appear interested in taking a crack at proving it to be true in order to take the spotlight off themselves. The new FIFA! Same as the old FIFA…

Blatter’s day in (an American federal) court is presumably still coming — we’re counting on you, Loretta Lynch — so this’ll have to do, for now.

FIFA headquarters raided in reference to Blatter, Valcke investigations

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If anyone thought the FIFA corruption and bribery investigations were nearing an end, think again.

According to the Associated Press, Swiss authorities have re-entered FIFA headquarters in Zurich in search of evidence involving ongoing cases for former president Sepp Blatter and Jerome Valcke.

Led by Swiss attorney general Michael Lauber, Blatter, Valcke and former FIFA financial officer Markus Kattner are being heavily pursued for reportedly awarding themselves in excess of $80 million in bonuses over a five-year period.

“Documents and electronic data were seized and will now be examined to determine their relevance to the ongoing proceedings,” the federal prosecution office said Friday, one day after the latest search at FIFA headquarters in Zurich.

Both Blatter and Valcke have been under investigation for months, while Blatter has been banned from all FIFA activities for six years and Valcke for 12 years.

Kattner was fired last week by FIFA after irregular payments were discovered amounting to millions of dollars.

The news comes just weeks after new president Gianni Infantino declared that “the crisis is over” in regards to the entire FIFA corruption scandal.

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