Football: Valcke under investigation as FIFA reveals Blatter wage

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ZURICH (AFP) – Switzerland on Thursday launched criminal proceedings against former FIFA number two Jerome Valcke, heightening corruption troubles at the world body as it revealed the salary of fallen leader Sepp Blatter for the first time.

Blatter received $3.75 million in 2015, FIFA announced in its accounts, but the transparency campaign was overshadowed by the growing probe into the running of the organisation which recorded a $122 million loss last year.

The Swiss Attorney General s office said that as part of an inquiry into FIFA s running it has launched criminal proceedings against Frenchman Valcke, the former FIFA secretary general, “on suspicion of various acts of criminal mismanagement.”

The office said it had begun “searches and interviews” on Thursday and that the criminal probe was opened in response to two specific criminal complaints made during an investigation into his FIFA tenure by FIFA s ethics committee.

Valcke, who was Blatter s right-hand man for nearly a decade, was sacked in January and banned from football for 12 years over misconduct in television deals and World Cup ticket sales.

The widening investigation highlighted the battle faced by new FIFA president Gianni Infantino who has promised reform and transparency.

Blatter, 80, who has registered an appeal against his six year ban from world football at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, fought to stop his salary being revealed during his 17 years in charge.

But FIFA said he earned 3.63 million Swiss francs ($3.75 million/3.3 million euros) last year while Valcke earned 2.12 million Swiss francs.

Blatter did not get a performance bonus in 2015 however so his package in earlier years was probably substantially higher. But he did get a $450,000 “variable compensation” payment for reaching 40 years with FIFA.

The Swiss official and UEFA boss Michel Platini were suspended over a $2 million payment that Blatter authorised to Platini for work done without a contract. Both are appealing.

FIFA had to dig into its $1.5 billion cash reserves to cover the 2015 loss, much of which it blamed on higher legal fees because of the scandals that erupted last year.

It has also failed to find new sponsors for the World Cup, ahead of the 2018 tournament in Russia.

It said its reserves had fallen by $183 million to $1.34 billion.

The loss followed a $141 million surplus in 2014. The last loss in 2002 was also caused by corruption — it followed the collapse of the ISL marketing company which had also been paid huge bribes to football officials.

FIFA blamed the loss on “expenses and higher competition costs” but also “unforeseen costs such as legal fees and costs for extraordinary meetings.”

Thirty-nine football officials and business executive faces charges in the United States over more than $200 million in bribes for soccer television and marketing deals.

As a result FIFA s spending on “legal matters” in 2015 was almost double the $31.3 million paid a year earlier, the financial accounts said.

It has hired top American legal firm Quinn Emanuel to defend FIFA s position in the US inquiry.

Football s governing body has struggled to find new sponsors as corruption allegations have mounted.

Sony and Emirates Airlines left as top level sponsors in 2014 and have not been replaced.

FIFA has a four year accounting cycle. It makes about $5.5 billion in television and commercial deals between each World Cup. It has still set a revenue target of $5.65 billion for 2015-2018 and Infantino said he was optimistic for the future.

“With the recently approved reforms, I believe that we have turned a corner and that FIFA is poised to emerge stronger than ever,” he said.

Infantino has said he is counting on increased revenues and cost-cutting so that there would be a $100 million surplus for the next four year period from targeted revenues of $5.65 billion.

2016-03-18

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