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ZURICH (AP) — Sepp Blatter's former right-hand man is facing a nine-year ban from soccer.
The FIFA ethics committee's lead investigator, Cornel Borbely, recommended the ban for Jerome Valcke on Tuesday after concluding his inquiry. In his final report, Borbely also asked that Valcke be fined 100,000 Swiss francs ($100,000) and that his 90-day suspension be extended for another 45 days.
Valcke, a Frenchman who served alongside Blatter as secretary general for nearly a decade, was accused of violating six articles of the FIFA code of ethics, including confidentiality and conflict of interest.
The former television journalist and sports marketing executive was originally banned for 90 days in October, a month after being put on leave by FIFA. The ban will expire at the end of day on Tuesday.
Last year, Valcke was implicated by a FIFA ticketing partner for using work and private email accounts to discuss a World Cup black market ticket deal. Valcke has denied that he sought cash from sales of top-category tickets for matches at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil he knew were being offered at several times face value.
Valcke has been charged with breaching FIFA ethics rules on confidentiality and loyalty, which could be leveled simply for doing official business through private email accounts.
Valcke's legal team responded Tuesday by claiming the ethics committee ignored his "exemplary conduct and extraordinary contributions during his long tenure."
The statement called the ethics announcement "a self-serving public relations effort to wrongly attack Mr. Valcke in a desperate attempt to try to prove that FIFA can police itself."
"Mr. Valcke did absolutely nothing wrong as any independent and fair review of the facts would establish," the statement said.
A final decision on banning Valcke will come from ethics committee judge Hans-Joachim Eckert, the man who last month banned both Blatter and Michel Platini for eight years each.
Valcke, whose main duty at FIFA was overseeing organization of the World Cup, rose to the top administrative job at FIFA soon after being fired in 2006 during a scandal.
As marketing director, he was implicated in misleading World Cup sponsor MasterCard during contract renewal talks. FIFA and Blatter eventually signed with Visa, provoking a legal suit from MasterCard which was settled for $90 million.
Valcke's conduct and business ethics were severely criticized by a federal judge in New York who heard the case.
FIFA fired Valcke and other marketing officials involved in the deal, then re-hired him several months later as secretary general after Blatter was re-elected president.
FIFA has been in crisis since the federal investigations of bribery and corruption implicating senior soccer officials were revealed in May.
Valcke was identified as having processed transfers of $10 million from FIFA accounts which were alleged by the U.S. Department of Justice to be bribes for CONCACAF officials to support South Africa's successful bid to host the 2010 World Cup.
FIFA and Valcke said the payments were authorized by then-finance committee chairman Julio Grondona, after being requested by South African officials to be paid from their tournament organization funds.
Still, Blatter announced his planned resignation on June 2, the day after FIFA and Valcke's role in the affair was revealed.
Blatter has said FIFA's troubles stem from the December 2010 decision to award Russia and Qatar hosting rights to the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, respectively. Valcke has been blamed for urging FIFA in 2008 to run a dual bidding contest, in order to secure long-term commercial security amid the economic downturn.
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