It seems like it can't be coincidence that just three days before FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke was relieved of his duties for allegedly reselling FIFA World Cup tickets well above face value, US Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced that her investigation into FIFA is still ongoing and more arrests are upcoming. However, Valcke's dismissal appears to be a directive from within FIFA.
Valcke has been FIFA President Sepp Blatter's right hand man since 2007; however, it is now clear that this is the end of an era. Blatter has announced that he will stand down and will be convening an extraordinary congress on February 26th, 2016 where his successor will be elected. It is now clear that Valcke will have no part to play in the new regime.
The timing of Valcke's expulsion from world soccer's governing body seems suspect, considering the number of other things which FIFA has been accused of. Given the large scale bribery and corruption charges which have been levelled at the organization, the idea of firing someone as senior as the Secretary General for such a trivial matter as reselling World Cup tickets at a marked up value means questions must be posed. Why is he actually leaving? Is this an effort to placate the American investigators? What more is to come?
FIFA released a statement confirming Valcke's expulsion on Thursday.
It reads: “FIFA today announced that its secretary general Jérôme Valcke has been put on leave and released from his duties effective immediately until further notice. Further, FIFA has been made aware of a series of allegations involving the secretary general and has requested a formal investigation by the FIFA ethics committee.”
According to a report in the Guardian, "Valcke was believed to have been flying to Moscow, one of the host cities for the 2018 World Cup, when the allegations were aired at a dramatic briefing in Zurich by a ticketing partner of FIFA's official hospitality agency Match. FIFA’s investigation will be led by Cornel Borbély, the head of the investigatory arm of the ethics committee."
It has often been said that the only way any real reform will happen within FIFA is if commercial partners put enormous amounts of pressure on the organization to change. Is that finally happening? Only time will tell.