Swiss FIFA Probe Extends to Qatari TV Chief al-Khelaifi

Frederick Owens
October 13, 2017

Swiss prosecutors on Thursday opened a criminal investigation into Paris Saint-Germain's chairman Nasser al-Khelaifi over suspected bribery linked to World Cup media rights.

It added that the operation had been carried out in conjunction with the EuroJust body, a European Union agency for cooperation in criminal matters, and Swiss authorities.

Al-Khelaifi and Valcke previously worked on a deal for the 2018 and 2022 rights weeks after Qatar won the 2022 hosting vote.

While Qatari national Al-Khelaifi is the president of the famed French football club PSG, the statement indicates the alleged offences pertain to his role as the head of sports media group BEIN, which operates on five continents.

The OAG announced on Thursday it is investigating the awarding of World Cup media rights for the 2026 and 2030 tournaments.

In a statement on Thursday, the OAG said the new proceedings involving Al-Khelaifi had been "opened on the basis" of its findings.

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After PSG's offseason spree signed off by Al-Khelaifi, European soccer body UEFA opened its own case into possible violation of soccer-specific rules created to curb excessive spending by clubs on transfer fees and wages.

Al-Khelaifi is a key member of the organising committee for the FIFA World Cup in Qatar and was described by French newspaper L'Equipe as "the most powerful man in French football". BeIN has also acquired a broad portfolio of rights including from UEFA for the Champions League and national team matches.

The proceedings relate to an ongoing OAG investigation into Valcke that began in March 2016 and was opened on "suspicion of various acts of criminal mismanagement".

The probe extends scrutiny of world soccer, has been in turmoil since US prosecutors said in 2015 that soccer officials had taken nearly $200 million in bribes from sports-marketing executives in the Americas seeking media and marketing rights to tournaments.

"FIFA has constituted itself as a damaged party in this investigation", the Zurich-based organization said.

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