FIFA official Valcke's suspension expires, questions about extension

Reuters , Tuesday 5 Jan 2016

FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke's 90-day suspension over World Cup ticket selling accusations ends on Tuesday, but it remained unclear if it will be extended while investigations continue as part of a drive against graft at soccer's governing body.

Valcke was banned by FIFA's independent ethics committee on Oct 8, the move almost lost to world attention amid the fall of veteran president Sepp Blatter and the charging of 41 people, including top FIFA officials, by U.S prosecutors worldwide for offences including corruption, fraud and money laundering.

A spokesman for the ethics committee said he could not immediately comment on whether it would seek a 45-day extension to Valcke's ban, which is allowed under ethics rules while the investigation goes on.

FIFA would not comment on whether Valcke, who had already implied that he would stand down following February's election for Blatter's replacement, would be allowed to resume his role if the ban, expiring at midnight local time on Tuesday, is not extended.

Valcke was put on leave by FIFA on Sept.17, hours after former Israeli footballer Benny Alon raised allegations he was involved in a plan to resell 2014 World Cup tickets for a lucrative profit.

Reuters could not independently confirm Alon's claims. Valcke called the allegations "fabricated and outrageous"

Alon said at a news conference in Zurich that he agreed in 2013 to pay cash to Valcke to secure plum World Cup tickets in Brazil. He said the plan was then to sell the tickets to fans at a markup and split the proceeds with Valcke.

Alon said the deal fell through and he never paid the soccer official.

Valcke originally joined FIFA in 2003 as marketing director but was fired in December 2006 for his part in botched sponsorship negotiations with credit card firms MasterCard Inc and Visa Inc.

Eight months later, he was re-hired as secretary general and oversaw the preparations for both the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and the 2014 tournament in Brazil.

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