Blatter tells FIFA members they will survive 'difficult situation'

Fri Sep 18, 2015 6:38pm EDT
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By Simon Evans

MIAMI (Reuters) - FIFA President Sepp Blatter, whose second-in-command Jerome Valcke was released from his duties on Thursday following allegations related to ticket sales, has told the organization's members that they will "come through this difficult situation together".

Blatter, who is standing down after the election of a new president on Feb. 26, wrote the message to FIFA's 209 member associations on Friday, a day after Secretary-General Valcke's departure following allegations he was involved in a plan to profit from World Cup ticket sales.

The swift action against Valcke was another major blow for Blatter as questions about corruption during his 17-year reign build.

Frenchman Valcke, Blatter's number two since 2007, was placed on leave just hours after a ticket-dealer and ex-footballer Benny Alon made the allegations about the ticket-selling plan at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

"I remain confident that we will also be able to come through this difficult situation together, and thank you for your trust," wrote Blatter.

The 79-year-old Blatter, who has been at the helm of soccer's governing body since 1998, said that FIFA Deputy Secretary General Markus Kattner would take over "operational matters" for now.

The allegations against Valcke come on top of probes by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Swiss Attorney General's Office into corruption at FIFA after the indictment of 14 senior soccer officials and sports marketing executives in May.

Valcke "unequivocally" denied the allegations as "fabricated and outrageous" in a statement from his U.S. lawyer Barry Berke.   Continued...

FIFA President Sepp Blatter in Ulrichen, Switzerland, August 22, 2015. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse