January 11 – Almost a year after launching an appeal, Swiss prosecutors have a second chance to win their case against beIN Sport supremo and Paris St Germain boss Nasser Al-Khelaifi over the allocation of World Cup TV rights.
Al-Khelaifi (pictured) and former FIFA number two Jerome Valcke will be back in court in March, according to AFP, on accusations of aggravated criminal mismanagement.
Al-Khelaifi was found not guilty in October 2020 following a high-profile 10-day trial that gripped world football politics during which he appeared alongside Valcke, the banned former FIFA secretary general.
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 separate 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 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. Al-Khelaifi is the chairman of beIN Media Group.
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 World Cups, a record amount for the Middle East and North Africa.
The Swiss appeal hearing has now reportedly been scheduled for March 7-10 as the case drags on, an unwanted distraction for Nasser Al-Khelaifi, who is at pains to put it behind him and concentrate on his roles at BeIn, PSG and at UEFA where he sits on the executive committee representing the European Club Association.
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