GENEVA (AP):Jerome Valcke, Sepp Blatter’s long-time right-hand man, was banned from all football-related activity for 12 years yesterday for misconduct during his term as FIFA secretary general.Valcke was found guilty by FIFA’s ethics committee of wide-ranging offenses, including taking private jets for personal use, destroying evidence and trying to force through an undervalued sale of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup television rights for the Caribbean.”Mr Valcke acted against FIFA’s best interests and caused considerable financial damage to FIFA, while his private and personal interests detracted him from his ability to properly perform his duties,” the ethics committee said in a statement.Valcke’s ban is four years longer than the eight-year sanctions handed down to FIFA President Blatter and UEFA President Michel Platini in December for a financial conflict of interest.The ethics judges said Valcke violated seven sections of FIFA’s code of ethics, compared to four each by Blatter and Platini, and also fined him 100,000 Swiss francs (US$12.4 million).The ban is likely not the end of Valcke’s legal troubles. He is expected to be asked to give evidence to American and Swiss federal prosecutors investigating widespread corruption in international football.His football ban comes one month after the 55-year-old Frenchman was fired by FIFA for a second time in a colourful career. The former television presenter and marketing executive had been suspended last September. The firing was based on an internal report about his conduct, including use of expenses and private jets.FIFA commissioned that report last year before a 2014 World Cup ticket agent alleged that Valcke sought to profit from a black market deal which later fell through. That allegation, made by ticket agent Benny Alon, prompted Valcke’s suspension and the ethics case to be opened.Valcke has consistently denied wrongdoing, and can appeal to FIFA and later to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.”With today’s decision, the FIFA ethics committee has shown that it is not a credible, independent or objective decision-making body,” Valcke’s US-based lawyer Barry Berke said in a statement, criticising an “unjust and politically motivated decision”.”Mr Valcke is confident that when all the facts come out, it will be clear that he did absolutely nothing wrong in carrying out his duties for the good of FIFA and the sport,” Berke said.
Information Minister, Senator Sandrea Falconer has challenged the media to highlight corruption in every sphere of society and to not limit itself to government and public officials. This, she said, was not a call to lessen their focus on politicians or the Government, but to broaden the search light. “The Government, of which I am a member, has nothing to fear when it comes to Press scrutiny on issues of corruption. This Government will do everything to facilitate transparency and accountability in public life and welcome the scrutiny of the Press,” Minister Falconer said. Underscoring the point that corruption was not only to be found in the public sphere, Minister Falconer encouraged the media to take a broad view of corruption which she described as: “A thief of the economic opportunity of the poor,” adding: “In fighting corruption, you are fighting for the future of this country.” She was speaking today (December 4) at a public forum put on by the Press Association of Jamaica and National Integrity Action at the Knutsford Court Hotel under the theme ‘Fighting the Corruption Scourge’. Minister Falconer said there were people from the criminal underworld and others in the society with the strength of cash, who in times of tight advertising and sponsorship budgets could use the purse strings to influence media scrutiny. She called on the media to turn the spotlight on all forms of corruption including trafficking and sexual harassment at the workplace where many women were suffering in silence at the hands of corrupt bosses who use their power to exploit them.“I want you in the media to expose them with their pants down,” the Minister concluded.