FIFA communications chief quits

Published: Thursday 11th June 2015 by The News Editor

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FIFA’s director of communications and public affairs Walter De Gregorio has stepped down from his role.

De Gregorio had been in position since September 2011 and was a senior aide to president Sepp Blatter, who announced his decision to quit amid a wave of corruption and bribery allegations which have brought the organisation to its knees.

A statement from FIFA said: “Walter De Gregorio has decided to relinquish his office with immediate effect as director of communications & public affairs.

“Mr De Gregorio joined FIFA on September 14, 2011 and will serve FIFA on a consultancy basis until the end of this year.

“His deputy Nicolas Maingot will resume the role ad interim.”

FIFA general secretary general Jerome Valcke also thanked De Gregario.

“Walter has worked incredibly hard for the past four years and we are immensely grateful for all he has done,” he said.

“I am glad we will be able to continue to draw on his expertise until the end of the year.”

De Gregorio was the man sent out to face the media at an emergency press conference at the end of last month when news broke of the arrests of FIFA officials and corporate executives.

He downplayed the significance of the arrests, claiming the governing body had initiated the investigation when it went to the Swiss attorney general in November 2014.

“This is good for FIFA. It confirms we are on the right track,” he said at the time.

“In this case, FIFA is the damaged party and this leads to the fact that there were no searches in the offices of FIFA.”

Things have changed considerably since his words on May 27 and as recently as Wednesday FIFA handed over a second batch of computer data to the Swiss attorney general’s office, which is investigating the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, having already had data seized two weeks ago.

FIFA said yesterday in a statement: ”As confirmed by the office of the Swiss attorney general, FIFA has provided the requested IT data.”

One of the seven FIFA officials arrested in Zurich on corruption charges two weeks ago has applied for bail. The seven are in custody pending extradition to the United States.

FIFA has postponed the announcement of the bidding process for the 2026 World Cup due to the corruption crisis that has engulfed the organisation and also confirmed a decision on the date of the congress to elect Blatter’s successor will be made in July. December 16 is the favourite option.

Meanwhile, Valcke has defended his involvement in a 10million US dollar (£6.5million) payment from South Africa via FIFA’s executive office to Jack Warner, the former FIFA vice-president whose deputy Chuck Blazer has pleaded guilty in court to taking some of the money as a bribe to vote for South Africa to host the 2010 World Cup.

The payment followed a 2008 letter from the South African Football Association (SAFA) to Valcke asking for the money to be deducted from the World Cup budget and sent as a legacy programme to be administered by Warner.

”It was not FIFA’s money… it was a request from official South African authorities and SAFA. As long as it is in line with rules we do it,” said Valcke.

Published: Thursday 11th June 2015 by The News Editor

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