Valcke: FIFA faces 'years' to rebuild reputation
Belfast, Northern Ireland: FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke acknowledged Tuesday that it will take "years to rebuild our reputation" following the World Cup bidding corruption investigation.
But Valcke insisted that Sony and Emirates airline are not ending their FIFA sponsorships to protest against allegations of bribery and favor-seeking that have engulfed world football in the four years since Russia was awarded the 2018 World Cup and Qatar was voted the 2022 hosts.
Emirates has already announced it is not renewing its sponsorship and Valcke said he "would be surprised" if Sony extended its deal, which expires at the end of this year.
"Both Sony and Emirates have nothing to do with the situation we are facing these last days," Valcke said, referring to the fallout from the bidding corruption report compiled by prosecutor Michael Garcia.
"I know that football is still a very strong product and I am not really concerned with FIFA's finances for the future."
But, speaking in Belfast after a meeting of the International Football Association Board, Valcke acknowledged the immediate future is not bright for FIFA's global standing while insisting "we are doing a great job."
"The image of FIFA is something I agree, over the last two weeks I would not say reached the bottom, but has reached a level which is definitely a level which we will not go lower than," Valcke said.
"Things are happening, things have happened, but we are still doing a lot of good things. We have to rebuild this image day after day. It's easy to destroy the reputation. It takes one second. It takes years to rebuild our reputation, but that's what we will do."
Sepp Blatter, the magnet for much of the criticism directed at FIFA, is seeking a fifth four-year term as president in May.
Much of that criticism — particularly from FIFA's own executive members — has centered on Blatter keeping Garcia's full 430-page report into impropriety during World Cup bidding confidential. Blatter received a further demand for Garcia's investigation to be released from the British government on Tuesday.
Sajid Javid — the culture, media and sport secretary — wrote to Blatter, saying FIFA should be operating "with the highest ethical standards" and be able to find a way of publishing the report without contravening confidentiality assurances.
"Without the disclosure of the full report, FIFA risks not just further damage to its own credibility, but now significant damage to the reputation of football as a whole," Javid wrote.
Valcke, FIFA's top administrator, said the report must stay secret to "mainly to protect 75 persons who have made a deposition and were given confidentiality" including himself.
The sense of disarray at FIFA heightened when Garcia objected to ethics judge Joachim Eckert's interpretation of his investigative work, appealing to FIFA citing "numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations" of his work.
"It's said it's a bit FIFA vs. FIFA," Valcke said. "It's sad for FIFA definitely, and it's sad for our reputation and for the image. It's sad for commercial partners, it's sad for all the people who are supporting football."
The Garcia-Eckert clash has led to Domenico Scala, the head of FIFA's auditing committee, being allowed to review the full investigation findings.
"I hope deeply the decision would be that this bidding process on '18 and '22 is closed," Valcke said, hopeful Russia and Qatar will retain their hosting rights.
But Switzerland's attorney general is looking into possible law-breaking by unnamed individuals highlighted in Garcia's investigation.