The Latest FIFA Update Puts Sepp Blatter Even Closer To The Scene Of The Alleged Crime
Authorities believe that a top FIFA official may have handled a $10 million bribe, people familiar with the case told The New York Times on Monday. Oh, and the guy they're accusing? FIFA's Secretary General Jérôme Valcke? He's Sepp Blatter's right-hand man. The FIFA president has tried his damnedest to keep his hands clean through this controversy, but as the allegations inch closer and closer to Blatter, it increasingly looks like he won't come out of this unscathed.
Prosecutors say that Valcke is the unidentified "high-ranking FIFA official" who allegedly transferred $10 million of the organization's money to the account of another FIFA big wig, Jack Warner, the Times reports. If it's true, that puts Valcke as one of the key players in the whole debacle. Warner was indicted for the alleged transaction last week.
FIFA said that the transaction was authorized by Julio Grondona, the soccer organization's former finance chief who died last year. Valcke said in an email to The New York Times that he did not and had no authority to authorize the transaction and denies that he has done anything wrong. He has not been charged for any crimes.
But Associated Press reporter Martyn Ziegler posted what he describes as a "bombshell" on Twitter early Tuesday. It's a copy of a letter supposedly from the South African Football Association to FIFA, which apparently instructs that $10 million be paid to Warner for the "Diaspora Legacy Program," a very funny way to spell, "his vote for us to host the World Cup." And who was the letter addressed to? Jérôme Valcke. Bombshell, indeed.
It's getting increasingly difficult for Blatter to convince people that he had no knowledge of the rampant corruption of the organization that he is, you know, the president of. But prosecutors pinpointing Valcke could be the final straw. The secretary general is second to only Blatter in the organization, and if Valcke was involved in a giant transaction it wouldn't have been one of those things that he casually forgot to mention to the big boss.
Blatter has been playing dumb after the U.S. Justice Department indicted 18 FIFA execs last week. When asked if he knew the details of the allegations, he replied that he "cannot monitor everyone all of the time." Right. That's understandable. But we're not talking about one crazy after-hours party where your coworkers get out of hand, Sepp. We're talking about years of alleged bribery and corruption. That seems like something you should at least own some part of.
Blatter maintains his ignorance of the situation for now. But it looks like his top lieutenant is about to be sucked into this crazy FIFA vortex, and this time the president might go with him.