FIFA scandals seem to be a dime a dozen these days, and every time a new corruption charge is levied against the organization, it seems to come from an even higher position. Jerome Valcke, the secretary general of FIFA, was placed on leave by the worldwide soccer organizing body after allegations emerged that he was involved in a scheme to sell tickets to the World Cup at highly inflated prices on the black market.
That assertion was made by Benny Alon, a former soccer player who has worked in ticketing and hospitality for every World Cup since 1990.
According to Alon, Valcke allowed Alon and the company he worked for, JB Sports Marketing (JBSM), to gain access to more lucrative tickets for the 2014 World Cup.
Alon signed a contract with FIFA that would allow JBSM to purchase 8,750 tickets to the World Cup, which would then be sold on the hospitality market. These tickets would be for 24 of the games during the tournament.
JBSM Wanted Better Selection of Games
Under the terms of the contract, JBSM would pick 12 games of their choosing (presumably, the ones they thought would be most in demand), while FIFA would choose the other 12 (likely games that FIFA felt were attracting less interest from spectators).
But Alon was friends with Valcke, the second-in-command at FIFA. In a March 2013 meeting, Alon says that Valcke asked him if he was okay with the deal as written, and that he replied that JBSM would prefer to choose all 24 games their tickets would be drawn from.
“I told him we’d like tickets to three Germany matches, and all the matches Brazil might play,” Alon said to Sportsmail. “It was clear we could make a good amount of money from selling these tickets if we got these games…and we agreed to split the profit.”
Future communications between Valcke and JBSM seem to lend credence to this story. In early April, Vlacke sent a letter on FIFA letterhead confirming that JSMB would receive tickets to the Brazil games they had asked for.
Soon thereafter, Alon sent Valcke an email confirming that tickets were selling well above face value, with some fetching three times their face value or more.
It appears that the deal failed to go the way that JBSM and Valcke imagined. It turned out that FIFA had already sold the rights to officially sell tickets to a company known as Match, and the deal between JBSM and FIFA was cancelled.
FIFA Suspends Valcke, Who Denies All Charges
In response to the allegations, FIFA released a short statement announcing that Valcke had been “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,” the organization stated.
Valcke has strongly denied that he did anything wrong in his dealings with JBSM. Media organizations including the New York Times that have examined some of the documents presented by Alon say that while they establish a relationship between he and Valcke, the case for corruption is far from airtight.
“Mr. Valce never received or agreed to accept any money or anything else of value from Mr. Alon,” said Barry Berke, the lawyer representing Valce. “As has been reported, FIFA entered into an agreement with Mr. Alon’s company, JB Sports Marketing. That agreement and FIFA’s subsequent business dealings with Mr. Alon were vetted and approved by FIFA and its legal counsel.”