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Fifa corruption: Sepp Blatter's right-hand man Jerome Valcke 'sent' $10m payment to Jack Warner in letter from the South African FA

Fifa issued a statement to deny Valcke's involvement in the alleged bribe that has triggered 18 arrests as part of a corruption investigation

Jack de Menezes
Tuesday 02 June 2015 19:05 BST
Fifa president Sepp Blatter shakes hands with Jerome Valcke
Fifa president Sepp Blatter shakes hands with Jerome Valcke (Getty Images)

Fifa has claimed that secretary general Jerome Valcke was not involved in the $10m payment that is at the centre of a corruption investigation, but a letter addressed to the Frenchman revealed this morning appears to suggest otherwise.

The letter, sent by the South African Football Association president Molefi Oliphant ahead of the 2010 Fifa World Cup, directly references the $10m payment to a bank account “implemented directly by the President of the Concacaf”, who at the time was disgraced former Fifa vice-president Jack Warner. In the letter, Oliphant asks for the payment to be withheld from World Cup funds and paid instead to Warner to help support football in the Carribbean, where Warner was at the time in charge.

The revelation comes after Uefa announced a meeting on Friday to consider forming a breakaway tournament in place of the 2018 Fifa World Cup, due to be held in Russia. Uefa executive committee member Allan Hansen told The Independent that the European confederation will gather at this week to discuss forming a tournament of their own along with some invited South American nations, in order to undermine Fifa and the World Cup in the eyes of its sponsors.

His deputy, American Chuck Blazer, is also alleged to have been involved in the payment, and was last week revealed as the “supergrass” behind the indictment of the current and former Fifa ExCo members.

Warner was one of 18 current and former Fifa officials arrested last week as part of a corruption investigation led by the FBI and Swiss Authorities.

While Fifa has admitted that a fee of $10m was paid in relation to the 2010 World Cup, they have furiously denied that it was a bribe for votes to award the tournament to South Africa, and have explained that the money went towards World Cup facilities in the country.

The letter, which was obtained and published by the South African broadcasting corporation and posted on Twitter by Press Association’s Martyn Ziegler (see below), appears to confirm that Valcke had knowledge of the payment to Warner.

The revelation comes after the New York Times reported that Valcke was the "high-ranking Fifa official" who signed off the payment to be made, which has led to the arrest of more Fifa officials on Monday to take the total number indicted since last week's raid to 18.

A statement by Fifa claimed that Valcke was not involved in any part of the payment and instead laid the responsibility on former Argentinian FA president and Fifa financial chief Julio Grondona.

A long-time ally and friend of president Sepp Blatter, Grondona died in July last year.

The Fifa statement said: “Neither the Secretary General Jérôme Valcke nor any other member of FIFA’s senior management were involved in the initiation, approval and implementation of the above project [$10m payment].”

The statement added: “In 2007, as part of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™, the South African Government approved a USD 10m project to support the African diaspora in Caribbean countries as part of the World Cup legacy,” read a statement from Fifa.

“At the request of the South African Government, and in agreement with the South African Football Association (SAFA), FIFA was asked to process the project’s funding by withholding USD 10m from the Local Organising Committee’s (LOC) operational budget and using that to finance the Diaspora Legacy Programme.

Former Fifa vice-president Jack Warner (Getty Images)

“SAFA instructed FIFA that the Diaspora Legacy Programme should be administered and implemented directly by the President of CONCACAF who at that time was Deputy Chairman of the Finance Committee and who should act as the fiduciary of the Diaspora Legacy Programme Fund of USD 10m.

“The payments totalling USD 10m were authorised by the then chairman of the Finance Committee and executed in accordance with the Organisation Regulations of FIFA. FIFA did not incur any costs as a result of South Africa’s request because the funds belonged to the LOC. Both the LOC and SAFA adhered to the necessary formalities for the budgetary amendment.”

(Getty) (Sepp Blatter)

It has resulted in fresh calls for Valcke – effectively Blatter’s No 2 at Fifa – to resign amid bribery and corruption allegations. On Friday, Valcke was by Blatter’s side as the 79-year-old Swiss was voted into a fifth term as Fifa president, after Prince Ali bin al-Hussein withdrew from the running ahead of a second round of voting.

With Uefa to meet on Friday to discuss the possibility of boycotting the 2018 World Cup, Hansen admitted that it will necessitate taking "the most radical option" in order to force Fifa into a reform.

He said: “I have been in this world now for 20 years. I am really in favour of a fair and democratic process. I have to realise it is not possible because there are so many associations who don’t want to change. It’s a case of the old proverb, ‘you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink’.

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