On-trial Valcke tells court of financial tribulations 'with no income'
Jérôme Valcke, the former secretary general of Fifa, has told a court about his financial struggles having lost his job at soccer’s international governing body, in a corruption trial in Switzerland.
The 59-year-old Frenchman is charged with accepting bribes, aggravated criminal mismanagement and falsification of documents.
Valcke (pictured) is on trial together with Nasser Al-Khelaifi, the prominent Qatari sports and media executive, in a case relating to alleged corruption in the attribution of World Cup television rights.
Valcke, once one of the most powerful men in international soccer, as number two to long-time Fifa president Sepp Blatter, told the court in Bellinzona that he had had to cope “with no income” since being sacked in 2015 and banned from soccer for 10 years.
He added: “Without work, with a family, I assure you that the money burns very quickly.”
Valcke claimed that he had sold his yacht and jewellery, and been “unable to open a bank account in Europe” since 2017.
He added that he had started an agriculture project in a country which he hoped would provide income in the coming months, while claiming that “two or three other attempts” to make a fresh start had been “polluted” by the intervention of Fifa.
Valcke is accused of wanting to transfer the rights in the Middle East and North Africa to the 2026 and 2030 World Cups to BeIN Sports, the international pay-TV broadcaster chaired by Al-Khelaifi, in exchange for "unwarranted benefits" from the Qatari.
According to the prosecution, the case relates to a meeting on 24 October 2013 at the French headquarters of BeIN, when Al-Khelaifi allegedly promised to buy a villa in Sardinia for €5 million ($5.9 million), granting its exclusive use to Valcke.
Al-Khelaifi, who has denied the charges, was then to hand the property over to the Frenchman two years later under certain conditions.
Valcke also stands accused of exploiting his position at Fifa between 2013 and 2015 to influence the awarding of media rights in Italy and Greece to World Cup and Confederations Cup tournaments between 2018 and 2030 "in order to favour media partners that he preferred" in exchange for payments from Dinos Deris, a Greek businessman in the sports sector, who has also been charged.
Valcke is contesting the charges against him.
He claimed yesterday that a €500,000 loan he received from Deris was actually a loan needed to help cover more than SFr10 million ($11 million) in personal debt run up after he bought two houses in Switzerland costing SFr7 million and a boat valued at more than SFr2 million.
Valcke said: “I didn’t arrange a corrupt deal with Dinos Deris.”
Al-Khelaifi, who is also president of French soccer giants Paris-Saint Germain, is charged with inciting Valcke to commit "aggravated criminal mismanagement.”
Charges of bribery against Al-Khelaifi relating to BeIN’s big-money acquisition of media rights in MENA to the 2026 and 2030 World Cups were dropped in February.
His legal team have claimed this secondary charge of inciting Valcke was suddenly created last December when it became clear that the bribery charge was flawed.
Both men face prison sentences of up to five years if found guilty.
Before Valcke took the stand, the three trial judges rejected the defence’s request to have the case thrown out.
The defence had argued that the trial had been “contaminated” by the revelation of undocumented meetings between Fifa president Gianni Infantino and former Swiss attorney general Michael Lauber, which remain under investigation.
However, the judges ruled there was nothing to establish “that the evidence in the present proceedings would be impaired.”
Deris, who is charged with bribery, was not present because of illness, but is being tried in his absence.Sportcal