May 24 – Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi, one of the most influential figures in world sports administration, has reportedly been charged in France with corruption over Qatari bids to host the world athletics championships.
Already facing allegations in Switzerland linked to awarding broadcast rights for the 2026 and 2030 World Cups, Al-Khelaifi has now been indicted by French authorities, according to judicial sources quoted by AFP, accused of being involved in attempting to buy the rights to host the 2017 world athletics championships.
The competition ultimately took place in London but Qatar did go on to secure the rights to hold this year’s world championships to be held in in September and October.
Al-Khelaifi is boss of BeIN Sports which holds exclusive television rights to major European leagues and international tournaments. More significantly, perhaps, he is also a member of UEFA’s executive committee as one of two club representatives and a board member of the European Clubs’ Association.
Calls for UEFA to block his election back in February fell on deaf ears when he was added to the organisation’s inner sanctum as a replacement for Ivan Gazidis. Not a single UEFA federation stood up to object to his election over conflict of interest but all eyes will now be on UEFA’s executive committee meeting in Baku next week in terms of whether Al-Khelaifi will show up.
According to agency reports, French judge Renaud van Ruymbeke has charged the Qatari businessman – who is head of Qatar Sports Investments that owns PSG – over allegations that a $3.5 million payment was paid to disgraced former International Association of Athletics Federations president Lamine Diack in return of the 2017 World Championships.
It is alleged that the payments were made by Oryx Qatar Sports Investment – of which Nasser Al-Khelaifi is chairman – to a company run by the son of Diack.
An official who spoke on condition of anonymity told The Associated Press that Al-Khelaifi had been charged with “active corruption” in mid-May.
A statement from his legal team denied any wrongdoing whatsoever.
“Nasser Al-Khelaifi was neither a shareholder nor a director of Oryx in 2011. He was not directly or indirectly involved in Doha’s bid to host the 2017 World Athletics Championships,” it said.
And Al-Khelaifi’s lawyer Renaud Semerdjian added: “The judge has made a mistake. Nasser has no involvement at all. His name does not appear in the entire procedural file.”
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