FIFA is disputing a published report that federal authorities believe the secretary general of soccer's governing body was behind $10 million in bank transactions that are at the center of allegations in international soccer's bribery and corruption scandal.
The New York Times reported Monday that U.S. law enforcement officials believe Jerome Valcke, FIFA President Sepp Blatter's top lieutenant, transferred bribe money to accounts controlled by Jack Warner, president of CONCACAF, the regional federation that oversees soccer in North America, Central America and the Caribbean. Valcke is believed to be the man identified as a “high-ranking FIFA official" in last week's 47-count indictments against top soccer officials and sports marketing executives.
Chuck Blazer, a former FIFA executive committee member, told federal investigators that he believed the money was paid as bribes to Warner in exchange for their votes to give the 2010 World Cup to South Africa, U.S. authorities said.
In a brief email to the New York Times, Valcke said he hadn't authorized the payment and had no power to do so.
In a statement posted to its website, FIFA said the $10-million payment was legitimately used "to support the African diaspora in Caribbean countries as part of the World Cup legacy." FIFA said the funds "were authorized by the then chairman of the Finance Committee and executed in accordance with the Organization Regulations of FIFA."
The statement went on to deny Valcke's role in moving the funds.
"Neither the Secretary General Jerome Valcke nor any other member of FIFA's senior management were involved in the initiation, approval and implementation of the above project."
Last week at FIFA's annual conference, Blatter denied any wrongdoing linking him to the scandal that has led to the indictments of 14 people. Blatter, who is reportedly being investigated separately by Swiss police, was elected to a fifth term as FIFA president last week.
Danny Jordaan, who directed South Africa’s World Cup bid and is now president of the country’s soccer federation, told the New York Times that the money was a legitimate payment into a soccer development fund in the Caribbean.
Times staff writer Kevin Baxter contributed to this report.