Jerome Valcke, FIFA’s secretary general and Sepp Blatter’s No. 2 man, has been implicated in a scheme that the feds believe involved a $10 million bribe in exchange for votes for the 2010 South Africa World Cup.
Bad timing on FIFA’s part: after a New York Times report naming Valcke emerged, the organization firmly denied Valcke was even aware of the payment. One hour after that denial, this letter—addressed to Valcke and bluntly discussing the payment—was obtained by the Press Association.
Last week’s U.S. indictment made reference to a “high-ranking FIFA official” who, in 2008, “caused” $10 million in payments to be transferred to disgraced former CONCACAF president Jack Warner, as compensation for CONCACAF executives voting to award South Africa the World Cup.
Mr. Warner voted for South Africa, but in the months and years after the vote, South Africa was unable to pay. So rather than take a payment directly from South Africa, the indictment says, FIFA itself paid Mr. Warner in 2008, using money that would otherwise have gone to South Africa to support the World Cup.
In effect, the indictment says the bribe was paid on the back end so South Africa received $10 million less from FIFA than it otherwise would have.
In the letter, written by South Africa FA president Molefi Oliphant, the $10 million is mentioned as funding for the “Diaspora Legacy Programme,” which yesterday’s FIFA statement claims is an ongoing program to support soccer in the Carribbean, especially among those of African descent. One problem, though: there’s no evidence that the Diaspora Legacy Programme ever actually existed.
FIFA’s statement took an odd approach to the mysterious payment. It insisted the money was on the up-and-up, but at the same time, just in case it wasn’t clean, claimed that Valcke had nothing to do with it, that the cash was authorized by finance committee chairman Julio Grondona. Grondona died last year and cannot defend himself or rat anyone out, so expect FIFA to blame a lot of this on him.
Yesterday, FIFA announced that Jerome Valcke will not attend Saturday’s opening of the Women’s World Cup in Edmonton, “due to the current situation.”