GENEVA: FIFA on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila) said it had fired Sepp Blatter’s former right-hand man, Jerome Valcke, the latest casualty in a multi-layered scandal that has brought down the most powerful figures in world football.
Valcke was FIFA’s general secretary for nearly a decade, working alongside the body’s then-president Blatter, who has been banned for eight years over an ethics violation.
Valcke, 55, was himself facing a possible nine-year ban sought by FIFA investigators over his alleged role in a scheme to sell 2014 World Cup tickets on the black market.
In a statement, FIFA said his employment contract had been “terminated”, even before a verdict in the ticket case was decided.
“The FIFA emergency committee decided, on 9 January 2016, to dismiss Jerome Valcke from the position of FIFA secretary general with immediate effect,” the statement said.
Valcke’s US-based lawyer Barry Berke said his client “remains confident that he will be fully vindicated and history will recognise all of his contributions to the sport he loves”.
“[He] is proud of all that was accomplished for the game of football during his long tenure as Secretary General,” Berke added in an email sent to Agence France-Presse.
FIFA said that Markus Kattner will continue to serve as acting general secretary, the body’s number two post.
Later Wednesday, former FIFA vice-president Alfredo Hawit pleaded not guilty to corruption charges in a New York court just hours after being extradited from Switzerland.
US prosecutors allege that 64-year-old Honduran Hawit accepted and laundered hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes as general secretary of the Honduran federation between 2008 and 2014.
Hawit entered a plea of not guilty through his lawyer. The defendant looked pale and ill, and stood slightly stooped in the federal court in Brooklyn, following the proceedings through a court-appointed interpreter.
The Honduran will appear in court again on Thursday where conditions for bail will be discussed.