THE suspension of FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke, which rocked world football on Thursday, has brought back memories of the World Cup ticket scam which sucked in ZIFA nine years ago and forced the association to fire its chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze. Valcke, the second most powerful man at FIFA, was suspended on Thursday amid explosive allegations that the Frenchman ran a global scam, involving the sale of World Cup tickets at highly-inflated prices, which has been a shadowy lucrative business for football leaders.
The Frenchman’s case appears to be a carbon copy of the scandal which rocked ZIFA in 2006, with Mashingaidze at the centre of a controversial sale of World Cup tickets to Swiss agents, Bacchini International, who paid more than $35 000 in commission for the tickets. Mashingaidze was suspended indefinitely on August 25, 2006, and he became the first high-profile victim of the World Cup ticket scam which exploded that month.
The suspension came amid revelations that Bacchini International might have got more World Cup tickets from ZIFA than the 290 that were declared by the association amid fears that Mashingaidze exposed Zimbabwe to possible sanctions from FIFA by signing a contract with the Swiss agents which was a direct violation of the regulations governing the sale of the 2006 World Cup tickets.
The contract was signed in March 2006.
To try and go around the strict FIFA regulations governing the sale of the World Cup tickets, Bacchini International crafted a contract that gave an impression that they were giving ZIFA a sponsorship package rather than paying them off proceeds from the actual sale of tickets. “This agreement is made this 10th day of March 2006 between Zimbabwe Football Association (Federation) and Bacchini International (BI),” the contract read.
“The Federation is making tickets available to Bacchini International (BI) to purchase in compliance with the under noted related terms and conditions:
Bacchini International (BI) commitment is to underwrite a sponsorship of the Federation (ZIFA) and the Federation’s delegates to obtain and provide BI with tickets to FIFA World Cup 2006 football event. We understand the following:
For the first round matches (except the opening match), the round of sixteen, the quarter-final matches and the 3rd and 4th place match, up to 250 tickets with a maximum of 20 tickets per match. For the opening match, the two semi-finals and the final, 10 tickets for each match. Additional tickets may be made available to BI on a subject to availability basis.
BI will fund its sponsorship of the Federation by paying the Federation 60 percent of the total amount of face value of confirmed 290 tickets (e.g confirmed total amount of tickets’ value Euro 35 000 – a sponsorship fee Euro 21 000). All payments will be by wire transfer in accordance with such wire instructions as the Federation may provide BI and all payments are non-refundable.
“This Agreement and its relationship between the parties shall be governed and interpreted in accordance with Swiss law and the parties agree that the Federal Court of the State of Zurich shall have exclusive jurisdiction to settle any dispute between the Parties.” Investigations by The Herald showed that Bacchini International might have received more tickets than the 290 which were declared by ZIFA and, as it was feared, sold on the black market at an inflated price.
It all emanated from a letter wrote on March 19, 2006 by Mashingaidze to Fernando Abellan, of the FIFA Ticketing Office in England, giving him the greenlight to release the tickets to Nadia Cerri, an Italian woman who paid for them using her Visa card.
“We request your good office to send our allocation for both our first request and the extra tickets for the World Cup by DHL to the following address — Mrs Nadia Cerri, Pfanzshulstrasse 23, 8004, Zurich, Switzerland.”
FIFA SUSPEND SECRETARY GENERAL
PRESS ASSOCIATION, Thursday, September 17, 2015
LONDON — FIFA has been thrown into fresh turmoil after secretary general Jerome Valcke, Sepp Blatter’s right-hand man, was suspended by the organisation pending an investigation into allegations he was implicated in a World Cup tickets scheme.
Emails and documents seen by Press Association Sport suggest Valcke was aware that a Swiss marketing company was selling off World Cup and Confederation Cup tickets for almost five times their face value.
FIFA said in a statement: “FIFA today announced that its secretary general Jerome Valcke has been put on leave and released from his duties effective immediately until further notice. 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.”
The emails and documents show Valcke signed off contracts with Swiss firm JB Sports Marketing AG for category one tickets for a number of matches.
In April 2013, JB’s consultant Benny Alon said in an email to Valcke’s personal email address that some tickets had been sold for up to five times the face value. But it was not until months later, in December of that year, that the contract was terminated.
Alon claims he sent an email to Valcke in April 2013 detailing how much was being made on each ticket — the biggest mark-up being 50 tickets for a second-round match in Sao Paulo with a face value of 230 US dollars being sold for 1 300 US dollars each.
Alon says in the email: “we made US$114 000 each on Germany”.
It is understood Valcke strenuously denies asking for or receiving any money for the deal with JB. It is also understood that Valcke insists FIFA terminated the agreement with JB once they realised Alon was selling tickets for the 2014 World Cup above face value. There is no explanation however at the delay in any action taking place.
Alon has claimed that his company sold the tickets on the open market not the black market, with transportation to the venue or a pre-match meal being used to justify the extra cost. That practice, however, clashed with FIFA’s official hospitality partners MATCH and contravened Brazilian law, and Valcke told JB the contract had to be signed with MATCH instead. An email from Valcke warns that otherwise they may be committing a criminal offence.
The email to Alon in December 2013 read: “You, we, have no choice. Otherwise the deal will be canceled by Fifa or we all face as individuals criminal offense. It is not a joke. It is very serious.
“So avoid too many advice. Just do it if I may say using a slogan from one company involved. All is clear and has to be finalized now. Thanks. Jérôme.”
Alon also told Press Association Sport he sold tickets to the 2010 World Cup final in Johannesburg — the higher price there being justified by having a golf match included as part of the deal.
Valcke has been FIFA’s secretary general, and outgoing president Sepp Blatter’s right-hand man, since 2007. A statement from Valcke’s US-based lawyers said he denied all the accusations.
“Jerome Valcke unequivocally denies the fabricated and outrageous accusations by Benny Alon of alleged wrongdoing in connection with the sale of World Cup tickets.
“Mr Valcke never received or agreed to accept any money or anything else of value from Mr Alon. As has been reported, FIFA entered into an agreement with Mr Alon’s company, JB Sports Marketing. That agreement and FIFA’s subsequent business dealings with Mr. Alon were vetted and approved by FIFA and its legal counsel.”
High-ranking FIFA official sent home
BBC Sport, June 17, 2006
LONDON — A high-ranking FIFA official was sent home from the World Cup in disgrace Saturday after admitting he sold World Cup tickets for three times face value.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter said he was “furious” after Botswana’s Ismail Bhamjee confirmed he sold tickets at inflated prices.
Blatter chaired an Emergency Committee meeting that decided to relieve Bhamjee from World Cup duties and asked him to “leave Germany at the earliest possible moment.” He will remain a member of the executive committee, pending further action.
“I am very disappointed at what came out here,” Blatter said after the unveiling of a monument to 1954 World Cup winner Fritz Walter.
Blatter said a British journalist came to FIFA with evidence of the scalping. Bhamjee was then confronted by FIFA. “This is a fact that really makes me furious,” Blatter said. “This man must leave the competition immediately. His accreditation is being revoked. It is so disappointing.”
Bhamjee, 62, admitted to the committee he sold tickets for England’s match against Trinidad and Tobago at Nuremburg on June 15 for $380. The tickets had a face value of $127.
“I deeply regret this incorrect act and apologize to FIFA for violating the relevant terms and conditions governing the sale of tickets for the World Cup,” Bhamjee said in a statement.
Bhamjee has been president of the Botswana soccer association and member of the African soccer confederation since 1988. He became a member of the FIFA executive committee in ‘98.
Bhamjee Quits FIFA
BBC Sport, August 20, 2006
LONDON — Botswana football administrator Ismail Bhamjee has resigned his position on the powerful FIFA executive committee in the wake of a World Cup ticket scandal.
Officials confirmed on Sunday that he also quit all the other sports administration posts he held prior to the World Cup. Bhamjee, sent home from the World Cup finals after selling tickets in Germany in June, wrote to Fifa last week to tell them of his decision.
The Botswana-based administrator admitted selling 12 tickets at three times their face value for the World Cup match between England and Trinidad & Tobago in Nuremberg, and was ordered to leave Germany by Fifa president Sepp Blatter.
He has also resigned as an honorary member of the Confederation of African Football’s executive committee.