Fifa secretary-general Jerome Valcke confirmed Wednesday that he worked as a consultant for Brazil's bid to host the 2014 World Cup, but he insisted that there was no conflict of interests.
"I worked for about three months. I travelled to Sao Paulo two or three times, I offered commercial advise. I was out ofn Fifa at the time and could do whatever I wanted. When I returned to Fifa, as secretary-general, I stopped working for the (Brazilian) committee," Valcke told a press conference in Rio de Janeiro.
He was reacting to a feature that the Brazilian daily Folha de Sao Paulo published Wednesday, noting that he had assisted the bid. Valcke's participation had not been public so far.
"They are making a big story out of nothing. This is a non-story," said Fifa's number-two official.
Valcke insisted that Brazil was "the only candidate" to host the 2014 World Cup, and it had the support of all South American nations.
"There was no conflict of interests, I did nothing wrong. I helped this group make sure that their bid was the best. There was no lobby to change anyone's opinion in the executive committee," he said.
Folha de Sao Paulo said Valcke's cooperation with Brazil started in February 2007, when the Frenchman - who had been removed from Fifa two months earlier - offered his consulting services to Ricardo Teixeira, then president of the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF).
In his email, Valcke asked for "close to 100 000 dollars" for his services for the bid, the report says, and CBF "accepted immediately."
Valcke worked with the Brazilian bid until June 2007, when he returned to Fifa as secretary-general.
He had been Fifa's marketing director until December 2006, when he left after a US court blamed him for violations in a clause in Fifa's contract with Mastercard. Fifa had to pay a 90-million-dollar fine.
Folha de Sao Paulo said Valcke's return to Fifa, to a higher position, happened thanks to the CBF president.
"Teixeira, who was strong behind the scenes in the institution at the time, articulated his partner's return," the daily said.