FIFA denies Sepp Blatter's top deputy was behind the $10 million payment at the center of the bribery scandal

Blatter valckePhilipp Schmidli/Getty ImagesSepp Blatter and his right-hand man Jerome Valcke.

One of the most damning allegations from the 164-page indictment against nine current and former FIFA officials is that $US10 million in FIFA money was sent to accounts controlled by Concacaf president Jack Warner as a bribe for supporting South Africa’s 2010 World Cup bid.

Warner kept “a substantial portion” of that money for his personal use, according to the indictment.

The indictment alleges that the $US10 million was originally supposed to come directly from the South African government, but that was ultimately impossible. So instead, in early 2008, $US10 million in FIFA money meant for South Africa was diverted to Concacaf and Caribbean Football Union accounts controlled by Warner.

On Monday the New York Times reported that U.S. law enforcement officials believe the high-ranking FIFA official who authorised that $US10 million payment was Jérôme Valcke, the current secretary general who’s widely regarded as Sepp Blatter’s top deputy. Valcke was not arrested or even named in the indictment, and he denied authorizing the payment in an email to the Times.

Jerome ValckeReuters/Arnd WiegmannFIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke gestures as he addresses a news conference.

On Tuesday FIFA released a full statement explaining the payment. The organisation acknowledged that FIFA diverted $US10 million in money meant for the South African Local Organising Committee to accounts controlled by Warner, but says the payment was above board as part of the 2010 World Cup’s “Diaspora Legacy Programme.”

Valcke didn’t authorise the payment, FIFA says, it was authorised by finance committee chairman Julio Grondona and it was “executed in accordance with the Organisation Regulations of FIFA.”

The full FIFA explanation for the $US10 million payment:

In 2007, as part of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the South African Government approved a USD 10m project to support the African diaspora in Caribbean countries as part of the World Cup legacy.

At the request of the South African Government, and in agreement with the South African Football Association (SAFA), FIFA was asked to process the project’s funding by withholding USD 10m from the Local Organising Committee’s (LOC) operational budget and using that to finance the Diaspora Legacy Programme.

SAFA instructed FIFA that the Diaspora Legacy Programme should be administered and implemented directly by the President of CONCACAF who at that time was Deputy Chairman of the Finance Committee and who should act as the fiduciary of the Diaspora Legacy Programme Fund of USD 10m.

The payments totalling USD 10m were authorised by the then chairman of the Finance Committee and executed in accordance with the Organisation Regulations of FIFA. FIFA did not incur any costs as a result of South Africa’s request because the funds belonged to the LOC. Both the LOC and SAFA adhered to the necessary formalities for the budgetary amendment.

Neither the Secretary General Jérôme Valcke nor any other member of FIFA’s senior management were involved in the initiation, approval and implementation of the above project.

While FIFA denies Valcke authorised the payment, the request from the South African FA was addressed to Valcke, according to a letter obtained by Press Association reporter Martyn Ziegler:

FIFA says this letter is consistent with their explanation:

FIFA doesn’t address the accusation that Warner diverted a substantial portion of that money into his personal accounts.

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