FIFA secretary general Valcke dragged into bribery row

Zurich, June 2 (IANS) FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke was on Tuesday dragged into the bribery controversy that has engulfed world football’s governing body after being linked to a $10 million payment.

America’s domestic intelligence and security service, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which is looking into the multi-million-dollar monetary scandal, believes the amount was made as a bribe by the South African Football Association (SAFA) via FIFA’s bank account in Zurich to former FIFA vice president Jack Warner, also the head of the Caribbean Football Union.

SAFA requested FIFA to deduct $10 millions from the $423 millions due to the organisers of the 2010 World Cup.

The payment followed a letter from South Africa FA president Molefi Oliphant to Valcke, asking for the payment to be withheld from World Cup funds and paid instead to Warner to support football in the Caribbean.

American prosecutors allege that the South African government paid $10 million in bribes to Warner and other football officials in order to secure their votes for South Africa to host the 2010 World Cup.

The FBI believes Valcke authorised the payment, the New York Times reported on Monday. The payments were allegedly disguised as money to “support the African diaspora”.

A FIFA statement said Valcke was not involved, but that the payment was made at the request of the South African government and SAFA.

“The letter is consistent to our statement where we underlined that the FIFA Finance Committee made the final approval,” the FIFA statement said on Tuesday.

Valcke has denied to the New York Times that he was the “high ranking official” and said he did not have the authority to order the payments.

“The payments totalling $10m were authorised by the then chairman of the Finance Committee and executed in accordance with the Organisation Regulations of FIFA,” the statement said.

“Neither the Secretary General Jerome Valcke nor any other member of FIFA’s senior management were involved in the initiation, approval and implementation of the above project.”

Valcke has not been charged with any crime nor has the US made any public allegations against him.

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