September 23 – Swiss prosecutors have called for Paris Saint-Germain president and beIN Media supremo Nasser Al-Khelaifi, and former FIFA number two Jerome Valcke to go to jail for alleged corruption in the allocation of World Cup TV rights.
The prosecution completed its case on Tuesday at the trial of the two high-profile figures, calling for a 28-month sentence for Al-Khelaifi and three years for Valcke – the first time prison sentences have been requested in a European court in trials relating to the various scandals in world football.
If they are convicted, it will also be the first judgement handed down in Switzerland in the 20 or so proceedings opened in the last five years involving FIFA.
It is alleged that Valcke, former general secretary of FIFA under Sepp Blatter and still serving a 10-year ban for ethics violations, accepted exclusive use of a villa belonging to Al-Khelaifi for 18 months without having to pay a total rent of up to €1.8 million. This was allegedly in exchange for the television rights for the 2026 and 2030 Football World Cups.
The court has already heard how beIN Media Group was awarded Middle East and North Africa TV rights for two World Cups without other tenders having being sought. Al-Khelaifi is accused of inciting Valcke to commit “aggravated criminal mismanagement” by not telling FIFA about favours he was receiving.
Prosecutors claim Al-Khelaifi acquired the house for €5 million via a company that was transferred almost immediately to the brother of one of his close collaborators, before it was made available to Valcke.
In a separate case, Greek businessman Dinos Deris is accused of bribing Valcke to the tune of €1.25 million in exchange for favourable treatment of his bid for Greek and Italian media rights over 12 years of football tournaments.
All three officials deny the charges against them. Valcke and Al-Khelaifi insist their deal was a “private” arrangement, unrelated to the tv contract concluded by beIN with FIFA in April 2014.
But the prosecution claimed Valcke committed to “do what was in his power” to ensure beIN would win the contract and should have declared the villa deal to his employers.
Al Khelaifi, a member of UEFA’s executive committee, is also accused of “contempt for justice” for not cooperating with the investigation and denying buying the villa despite evidence of the purchase.
The defence is due to present its final arguments today and tomorrow.
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