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Fifa secretary general Valcke all but says he's leaving
[ST PETERSBURG] Jerome Valcke, Fifa's often-outspoken secretary general, all but confirmed on Friday that he will be leaving his job when Sepp Blatter is replaced as president of world soccer's governing body next February.
Mr Valcke, a 54-year-old Frenchman, has been in the job since 2007.
"If I was the next president of Fifa then I would have a new secretary general, so yes, whoever becomes the next Fifa president should have a new secretary general," he told a news conference in Russia before Saturday's preliminary round draw for the 2018 World Cup.
"It is the most important relationship for any organisation, one of the key functions in any institution, and so regarding the future I could have some privacy from whatever questions you are asking," he added, appearing almost relieved. "And anyway, whoever will become the next secretary general should be happy as we have a World Cup being very well organised in Russia."
Fifa is in the throes of the biggest crisis in its 111-year history with the FBI and Swiss authorities investigating allegations of corruption going back decades.
"As the head of the administration I can be proud of what the administration has done and I don't think we have ever been part of the stories around Fifa including the commercial agreements we have signed," Mr Valcke said. "I don't believe there have been any wrong-doings by the administration and I don't think I'm involved or have anything to do in this case.
"I am responsible for my work, my duty, to implement the decisions of Congress and the executive committee and I have done that," added Mr Valcke, who will conduct the World Cup preliminary round draw which is being televised live in 170 countries.
Mr Valcke has had a chequered career at Fifa which he originally joined in 2003 as marketing director but was fired in December 2006 for his part in botched sponsorship negotiations with credit card rivals MasterCard and Visa.
He was dismissed when a New York court ruled that Fifa had "lied repeatedly" during World Cup sponsorship negotiations with MasterCard, but eight months later he was re-hired as secretary general.
He has since had responsibility for, among other things, organising the World Cup, and he made headlines in March 2012 when he said Brazil needed a "kick up the backside" to improve its preparations for the 2014 finals.
He also said that World Cups were easier to organise in countries ruled by a dictator and became deeply involved in the 2011 "bribes for votes" scandal when he said Qatar, which had won the right to stage the 2022 World Cup, had "bought" the tournament, a comment he later said had been misunderstood.
The most recent controversy he faced was in 2008 when a letter to Mr Valcke was published which requested him to transfer a US$10 million payment from South African officials to CONCACAF, the confederation for North and Central America and the Caribbean.
It was alleged that the payment was a bribe to disgraced former CONCACAF president Jack Warner in exchange for votes for South Africa to host the 2010 World Cup.
Mr Blatter, who has been Fifa president since 1998, is stepping down from his position and will be replaced at an extraordinary congress next February.