Foot­ball club pres­i­dent fo­cus of ‘bribery’ probe

Western Mail - - NEWS - Press As­so­ci­a­tion re­porters news­desk@waleson­

THE Qatari pres­i­dent of one of Europe’s rich­est foot­ball clubs, Paris St 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 chief ex­ec­u­tive of Qatar-owned BeIN Me­dia Group, for­mer Fifa sec­re­tary gen­eral Jerome Val­cke, and an un­named “busi­ness­man in the sports rights sec­tor” was an­nounced by the of­fice of Switzer­land’s at­tor­ney gen­eral yes­ter­day.

The case in­volves the award 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 foot­ball, and the 2018-2022 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.

“Mul­ti­ple premises were searched, as­sets were seized and in­ter­views were con­ducted as a re­sult of this joint op­er­a­tion,” the EU body known as Euro­just said in a state­ment. PSG de­clined to com­ment. No sus­pect was de­tained yes­ter­day, said Swiss prose­cu­tors whose work in­ves­ti­gat­ing Fifa and sus­pected money laun­der­ing linked to World Cup host­ing bids be­gan in Novem­ber 2014.

Then, Fifa gave the Swiss fed­eral of­fice a re­port and ev­i­dence from its then-ethics pros­e­cu­tor, for­mer US lawyer Michael Gar­cia, into the dual World Cup bid­ding con­test won by Rus­sia and Qatar.

Al-Khe­laifi is al­leged to have of­fered “un­due ad­van­tages” to Val­cke, Fifa’s sec­re­tary gen­eral from 2007 un­til his fir­ing in Jan­uary 2016 for the award of me­dia rights in “cer­tain coun­tries” for the 2026 and 2030 World Cup.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.