PSG pres­i­dent in­ves­ti­gated for bribery

Montreal Gazette - - SPORTS - GRA­HAM DUNBAR

The Qatari pres­i­dent of one of Europe’s most glam­orous soc­cer clubs, Paris Saint- Ger­main, is un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion by Swiss pros­e­cu­tors for sus­pected bribery of a top FIFA ex­ec­u­tive to get World Cup broad­cast­ing rights.

Crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ings against Nasser Al-Khe­laifi, PSG pres­i­dent and CEO of Qatar-owned BeIN Me­dia Group, for­mer FIFA sec­re­tary gen­eral Jerome Val­cke and an un­named “busi­ness­man in the sports rights sec­tor” were an­nounced Thurs­day by the of­fice of Switzer­land’s at­tor­ney gen­eral.

The case in­volves the award­ing of broad­cast rights for the next four World Cups from 2018 through 2030.

The pro­ceed­ing against Al-Khe­laifi is one of the first di­rect links to Qatar in sweep­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions by fed­eral law en­force­ment au­thor­i­ties in Switzer­land, the United States and France of FIFA, in­ter­na­tional soc­cer and the 201822 World Cup bid­ding con­tests.

The Paris of­fices of BeIN Sports were searched by two mag­is­trates from the French fi­nan­cial pros­e­cu­tor’s of­fice, the fed­eral agency said. They were as­sisted by in­ves­ti­ga­tors from an anti-cor­rup­tion unit.

Prop­er­ties were also searched in Greece, Italy and Spain, while Val­cke was ques­tioned in Switzer­land, the Swiss fed­eral pros­e­cu­tion of­fice said.

It cited co-op­er­a­tion from a Euro­pean Union crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion agency.

PSG de­clined to com­ment. Al-Khe­laifi is al­leged to have of­fered “un­due ad­van­tages” to Val­cke — FIFA’s CEO -like sec­re­tary gen­eral from 2007 un­til his fir­ing in Jan­uary 2016 — for the award­ing of me­dia rights in “cer­tain coun­tries” for the 2026 and 2030 World Cup. Al-Khe­laifi and Val­cke pre­vi­ously ne­go­ti­ated a deal for the 2018 and 2022 rights weeks af­ter Qatar won the 2022 host­ing vote.

In Jan­uary 2011, FIFA an­nounced Al Jazeera Sports — which later be­came BeIN — se­cured the rights for 23 ter­ri­to­ries across the Mid­dle East and North Africa, in­clud­ing Saudi Ara­bia.

Nasser Al-Khe­laifi

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