Football’s world governing body FIFA has suspended its secretary general amid misconduct allegations.
FIFA announced it will investigate secretary Jerome Valcke, 54, who was placed on leave immediately.
Valcke was accused of scheming to sell World Cup tickets above face value.
The allegations, denied by Valcke, were made by a consultant at a company that struck a deal with FIFA to sell tickets for the 2014 World Cup. The deal was later cancelled.
The Frenchman, who has been FIFA president Sepp Blatter’s right-hand man since 2007, was alleged to be the beneficiary of an agreement to sell the tickets at inflated prices.
“[Valcke] has been put on leave and released from his duties effective immediately until further notice,” FIFA said in a statement.
“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.”
FIFA has been embroiled in a major corruption scandal since the arrest of seven of its officials on May 27, 2015, attending a FIFA congress in Zurich to elect a new president.
The officials were among 14 people charged by US authorities over more than $US150 million in bribes given for television and marketing deals.
Despite the arrests in May, the election went ahead with Blatter winning a fifth mandate. He then announced he would stand down, with a new election scheduled for February, 2016.
Valcke, a steadfast supporter of Blatter, was not implicated in the FIFA corruption scandal.
Former vice-president extradited
Meanwhile, Swiss authorities have approved a US request to extradite former FIFA vice president Eugenio Figueredo, who was accused of bribery and fraudulently obtaining American citizenship.
“Figueredo is accused of receiving bribes worth millions of dollars from a Uruguayan sports marketing company in connection with the sale of marketing rights to the Copa America tournaments in 2015, 2016, 2019 and 2023,” the Swiss ministry said in a statement.
“Figueredo is also alleged to have acquired US citizenship fraudulently by submitting forged medical reports in 2005 and 2006.”
Figueredo was among the seven football officials arrested May 27, in early-morning hotel raids in Zurich.
Switzerland’s justice ministry said the 83-year-old Uruguay native had 30 days to appeal the decision.
He was detained in a Zurich-area prison, and faces a 20-year sentence on racketeering charges.
His term on the FIFA executive committee was due to expire on May 29. FIFA has since suspended him from all football duty.
– with AAP