February 17 – Swiss prosecutors are appealing the acquittal of Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi (pictured) on accusations of aggravated criminal mismanagement regarding the allocation of World Cup TV rights.
Al-Khelaifi, chairman of beIN Media, was found not guilty in October following a high-profile 10-day trial that gripped world football politics during which he appeared alongside banned former FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke.
At the same trial, Valcke was acquitted of accepting bribes and criminal mismanagement while he served under Sepp Blatter from 2007-15 but was found guilty of a lesser charge of forging documents linked to World Cup broadcasting deals in Italy and Greece
Valcke, still serving a FIFA ban for unrelated ethics violations, was given a 120-day suspended sentence and ordered to pay FIFA €1.75 million in restitution.
The trial before the Federal Court of Bellinzona was a huge setback for the prosecution who had demanded suspended jail terms for both men.
The same prosecutors had also called for a suspended jail term on a third defendant, Greek businessman Dinos Deris who was found not guilty on a charge of “private corruption”.
The Swiss Public Prosecutor’s Office (MPC) received the formal judgement in January and has now “filed a statement of appeal” to seek “the conviction of the three accused”, AFP quoted a spokeswoman as saying.
The prosecution alleged that at a meeting in October 2013, Al-Khelaifi promised to buy a villa in Sardinia for €5 million, granting its exclusive use to Valcke in exchange for support in its bid for the TV rights in North Africa and the Middle East for the 2026 and 2030 World Cups.
From day one, Al-Khelaifi vehemently denied the charges that the villa was in any way linked to BeIn’s $480 million deal with FIFA for the 2026 and 2030 tournaments, a record amount for the Middle East and North Africa.
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