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FIFA suspends general secretary over World Cup tickets claims

TAGs: Benny Alon, Eugenio Figueredo, fifa, JB Sports Marketing, Jeffrey Webb, Jérôme Valcke, sepp blatter

FIFA suspends general secretary over World Cup tickets claims Sepp Blatter’s right-hand man at FIFA was relieved of his duties and faces formal investigation after fresh allegations of World Cup Tickets Scheme.

FIFA has announced Thursday that it has suspended Secretary General Jérôme Valcke “until further notice,” for alleged involvement in an operation to improperly profit from World Cup ticket sales. FIFA has also requested a formal investigation by the FIFA Ethics Committee.

The allegations against Valcke have been made by a consultant, Benny Alon, who worked for JB Sports Marketing that at one point had a contract with FIFA to sell tickets for the 2014 World Cup.

Documents seen by the Guardian appears that Valcke was to be the beneficiary of an agreement to sell the tickets at inflated prices but Valcke denied the allegations saying that when he saw that the tickets were offered more than four times the value, he warned Alon to adhere to the regulations and eventually cancelled the contract.

FIFA has been under global pressure for its alleged rampant corruption, which culminated in the indictment of 14 FIFA officials and the arrest of seven in May on charges including bribery, racketeering, money laundering and wire fraud. Valcke was not named in those documents, though he was accused of transferring $10m as part of an alleged bribe to help South Africa win the right to host the 2010 World Cup.

Valcke has agreed to leave FIFA next February, at which a new president will be chosen to succeed Blatter.

Meanwhile the extradition of former FIFA  vice-presidents Eugenio Figueredo to the United States to answer charges in football’s biggest-ever corruption scandal was approved in Switzerland on Thursday.

The Swiss Federal Office of Justice (FOJ) agreed to surrender Figueredo US prosecutors four months after the Uruguayan and six other senior officials were arrested in raids on FIFA’s luxury Zurich hotel.

Figueredo was given 30 days to appeal to the Swiss Federal Criminal Court and 5 days to notify the FOJ of any intent to appeal against Thursday’s ruling, which, if actioned, would see him join fellow former FIFA vice-president Jeffrey Webb in American custody.

Webb has already appeared in court in relation to an alleged £100 million fraud after he agreed to be extradited two months ago. Figueredo is accused of receiving bribes worth millions of dollars from a Uruguayan sports marketing company in connection with the sale of marketing rights to the Copa América tournaments in 2015, 2016, 2019 and 2023. Figueredo is also alleged to have acquired US citizenship fraudulently by submitting forged medical reports in 2005 and 2006.

Figueredo is currently on bail having pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.

In its extradition ruling, the FOJ concluded that all of the conditions for extradition are fulfilled. Specifically, the facts laid down in the US extradition request are also punishable under Swiss law (the principle of dual criminality). According to the request, by accepting bribes for the award of sports marketing contracts, Figueredo massively influenced the competitive situation and distorted the market for media rights in connection with the Copa América.

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