Valcke named FIFA general secretary

ZURICH Wed Jun 27, 2007 4:34pm BST

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ZURICH (Reuters) - FIFA named Frenchman Jerome Valcke as their new general secretary on Wednesday, less than eight months after he lost his job as their marketing director.

FIFA announced Valcke's departure in December 2006 over the part he played in the botched sponsorship negotiations with credit card rivals MasterCard and Visa.

On Wednesday the Frenchman was presented as the organisation's new number two, second only to president Sepp Blatter, succeeding Urs Linsi who left after five years in the job earlier this month.

"When Mr Valcke first came to FIFA we had equity in the red," FIFA president Blatter told a news conference at the organisation's Zurich headquarters.

"Four and a half years of intensive work later we now have a reserve of 752.0 million Swiss francs (306 million pounds) and Mr Valcke has proven that in the field of marketing, television and operations he is a dominant personality."

Valcke joined FIFA in 2003 after leaving his former position as CEO of sports marketing firm Sportfive.

In December 2006 FIFA said it had "parted company" with Valcke and three other employees after a New York court ruled that FIFA's marketing team had "lied repeatedly" during the talks with MasterCard and Visa.

On Wednesday Blatter said that Valcke had in fact remained on the FIFA payroll and had merely been "suspended."

In May an appeals court ordered that the MasterCard case be re-examined but the two sides instead reached an out-of-court settlement with FIFA agreeing earlier this month to pay MasterCard $90 million (45 million pounds) in compensation.

"Concerning the MasterCard case it happens in each and every company in the world that sometimes a business may not go well," Blatter added.

"The fact that the case was sent back to the court of first instance is also a rehabilitation of all the people involved in this deal.

"It was also not the responsibility of Mr Valcke as I assume full responsibility for this matter just as I have done in front of FIFA's executive committee."

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