FIFA dismisses Ballon d´Or ‘leak’, extends Valcke ban

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FIFA has dismissed reports it accidentally published the winners of the 2015 Ballon d’Or early.

A story emerged on Wednesday claiming Lionel Messi and Celia Sasic had been inadvertently revealed as the recipients of the men’s and women’s awards, which are due to be handed out on Monday.

However, a screenshot used in the article could be traced back to the website of European Sports Media (ESM), where an apology read: “Due to a technical problem at transmission, Lionel Messi and Celia Sasic were listed as FIFA Ballon d’Or winners 2015.

“Actually, they won the awards UEFA Best Player in Europe 2015 resp. UEFA Best Women’s Player in Europe 2015. We apologize for this mistake.”

And FIFA has now released its own short statement addressing the issue.

“This afternoon, a story 1st posted online in November (false then too) has resurfaced,” read a tweet from FIFA Media. “The winners of the #BallondOr have NOT been leaked.

“November’s story (also falsely attributed to FIFA’s website) was taken from ESM’s website.”

Meanwhile, the adjudicatory chamber of FIFA’s Ethics Committee has extended general secretary Jerome Valcke’s suspension from all football-related activities by 45 days.

Valcke’s initial 90-day ban came to an end on Tuesday, but investigatory chamber chairman Cornel Borbely called on that suspension to be extended, with the adjudicatory chamber now granting Borbely’s request.

“The adjudicatory chamber of the Ethics Committee chaired by Mr Hans-Joachim Eckert has decided to extend the suspension of Mr Jerome Valcke by 45 days, at the request of the investigatory chamber,” a statement read.

“The extension of the suspension starts from Wednesday January 6.”

Valcke has been linked to a scheme that intended to sell tickets for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil at above their face value prior to the contract being cancelled before any were sold, with the investigatory chamber calling for Valcke to be banned for nine years over allegations of corruption.

Valcke – the right-hand man to suspended FIFA president Sepp Blatter since 2007 – has denied the allegations made against him, claiming FIFA is trying to improve its damaged public image by placing the blame upon him.

CAPTION: FIFA has dismissed reports that it accidentally published Lionel Messi and Celia Sasic as FIFA Ballon d’Or winners of 2015.

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