Paris St Germain president investigated for World Cup bribery

Swiss prosecutors have opened a case against Nasser Al-Khelaifi over bribing of Fifa executive

Nasser Al-Khelaifi is under investigation for bribing a Fifa executive to get World Cup broadcasting rights. Photo: Getty Images

Nasser Al-Khelaifi is under investigation for bribing a Fifa executive to get World Cup broadcasting rights. Photo: Getty Images

 

The chairman of Qatar-owned Paris Saint-Germain and the sports broadcaster beIN, Nasser al-Khelaifi, has been accused in Switzerland of criminally bribing the former Fifa secretary general, Jérôme Valcke, to buy World Cup TV rights. Khelaifi, now one of the most powerful figures in European and world football, has been implicated in the Fifa corruption scandals for the first time, accused of bribing Valcke in connection with the award of TV rights for the 2026 and 2030 tournaments, whose hosts have not even been decided yet .

In an explosive announcement which revealed a new dimension to the in-depth criminal investigations into alleged corruption at football’s world governing body, the Swiss attorney general’s office (OAG) said it also opened a criminal proceeding against Valcke himself. An unnamed figure in the sports rights business is also accused of having bribed Valcke in connection with the award of media rights for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, 2022 in Qatar, and the 2026 and 2030 tournaments.

“It is suspected that Jérôme Valcke accepted undue advantages” from both men in relation to those tournaments, the OAG said in a statement.

The criminal proceedings, in effect an investigation rather than charges, has been ongoing since March 20th this year, the OAG said, adding that collectively Khelaifi, Valcke and the unnamed businessman are suspected of bribery, fraud, criminal mismanagement and forgery of a document.

Valcke was banned from football for 12 years, later reduced to 10, by Fifa’s ethics committee in February last year for seven breaches of the organisation’s ethics code, including attempting to sell TV rights for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments for “far below their actual value”. The other allegations found by the committee to be proven included excessive use of private jets and involvement in an improper proposed World Cup ticket deal.

The following month the OAG announced that it had opened proceedings against Valcke “on suspicion of various acts of criminal mismanagement and other offences” in relation to two matters investigated by Fifa’s ethics committee. Valcke was interviewed as a suspect in Switzerland , the OAG said.

(Guardian service)

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