Thursday evening saw Sepp Blatter take the first big step in helping to clean up FIFA when he turned over e-mails from his former number two man, Jerome Valcke, to Swiss authorities. The former attorney general of FIFA has been implicated in a black market ticketing scandal and is under investigation by the Ethics Committee and Swiss police.
Valcke was on his way to Russia to host a celebration of 1000 Days to the World Cup when his plane was ordered to turn around and he was suspended immediately. As per FIFA guidelines, only Blatter himself could suspend Valcke and he did just that. Worth noting is that the suspension came ahead of the formal investigation by the government. This represents the first real action that leadership has made to clean up their organization since Swiss police arrested seven FIFA officials back in May.
As more details emerge about this particular episode, the more it seems that Blatter is sacrificing his top aide to insulate himself from any particular investigation by removing those who could threaten him the most. It was reported that Valcke had been attempting to leave FIFA, but couldn't negotiate out of his contract due to financial restraints. Now that won't be an issue, especially if the Ethics Committee finds him guilty of selling World Cup tickets for above market value on the black market.
It's worth mentioning that Jack Warner has been found guilty for repeatedly doing this very same thing and was able to escape punishment each time by leveraging the amount of votes he use to wield. While details have yet to emerge about how Valcke is to have allegedly sold the tickets, Warner's methods are very well documented. After receiving the allotment of tickets for the Caribbean Football Union, Warner would give those tickets to his son to sell at a very high markup as part of a ticket package. He would then pocket the change. Oh, and the name of the company his son ran? Renraw.
What is to keep Valcke from talking to authorities now that Blatter appears to have sacrificed him? The pair has worked together for years and there is a level of trust amongst these two. Not to mention that they have both made a lot of money for the other ever since 2007 when Valcke joined FIFA. It wouldn't be surprising if there wasn't a below-the-table retirement fee given to Valcke to keep him from talking.
That doesn't mean Swiss police won't attempt to talk Valcke into turning on Blatter. It's no secret that they, and the US Department of Justice, have their eyes set on bringing Blatter to justice. Finding something to hold against him has proven to be difficult, though. If Valcke can be convinced to turn on the lame-duck president, that process could be sped up immensely.