Swiss open World Cup criminal probe into ex-FIFA official Valcke and Qatar businessman

FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke addressing a news conference after a meeting of the FIFA executive committee in Zurich September 26, 2014 (Reuters/Arnd Wiegmann/Files)

ZURICH, (Reuters) – Swiss prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation into Jerome Valcke, the banned former FIFA secretary general, and Nasser Al-Khelaifi, the chief executive of Qatar’s beIN Media, over World Cup broadcasting deals.

The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) said on Thursday it suspected Valcke accepted “undue advantages” in connection with the award of media rights for the 2026 and 2030 competitions from Al-Khelaifi.

Valcke was Sepp Blatter’s right-hand man when the latter ran FIFA, the Swiss-based world soccer body. Al-Khelaifi is also president of French club Paris Saint Germain.

FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke addressing a news conference after a meeting of the FIFA executive committee in Zurich September 26, 2014 (Reuters/Arnd Wiegmann/Files)

Barry Bercke, Valcke’s U.S. lawyer, declined to comment. BeIN Media denied any wrongdoing and said it was cooperating with officials.

“Following a request by the office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG), the beIN SPORTS offices in Boulogne-Billancourt (France) were searched this morning,” read the beIN statement.

“The employees on site cooperated with the authorities until the end of the search. beIN MEDIA GROUP refutes all accusations made by OAG. The company will fully cooperate with the authorities and is confident as to the future developments of this investigation,” the statement concluded.

The OAG also said it was investigating an unnamed businessman in the sports-rights sector and said it had suspicions about bribery, fraud, criminal mismanagement and forgery among the three.

Prosecutors interviewed Valcke on Thursday, while authorities in France, Greece, Italy and Spain searched properties in various locations, the OAG said.

French prosecutors said they had searched beIN’s offices in Paris on Thursday. In Greece, a judicial source said: “Today, prosecutors participated in searches at residences. The operation is led by Swiss authorities.”

“It is suspected that Jerome Valcke accepted undue advantages from a businessman in the sports-rights sector in connection with the award of media rights for certain countries at the FIFA World Cups in 2018, 2022, 2026 and 2030 and from Nasser Al-Khelaifi in connection with the award of media rights for certain countries at the FIFA World Cups in 2026 and 2030,” the OAG said.

The OAG had already said last year that Valcke was suspected of criminal mismanagement and other offences. He has denied any wrongdoing.

Valcke is serving a 10-year ban from football after he was found guilty by FIFA’s former ethics judge Hans-Joachim Eckert of misconduct over the sale of World Cup tickets, abuse of travel expenses, attempting to sell TV rights below their market value and destruction of evidence.

After being sacked from his post in January 2016, he was initially banned for 12 years, which was reduced to 10 by FIFA’s own appeal committee last June. He has denied wrongdoing and is now appealing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Al-Khelaifi heads the Qatari ownership of Paris St Germain which in August paid the world record transfer fee of 222 million euros for Brazilian forward Neymar.

FIFA awarded Qatar the hosting of the 2022 World Cup after a vote in 2010.

Zurich-based FIFA has been trying to overhaul its operations in the wake of the worst crisis in its history, sparked in 2015 by the indictment in the United States of several dozen soccer officials on corruption-related charges.

It said in a statement that it fully supported the investigation by the OAG and other involved authorities.

“FIFA has constituted itself as a damaged party in this investigation, in line with the applicable provisions of Swiss procedural law,” it added.

 

Comments  

Sparta Boss, Leopold Street clash today at Cultural Centre Tarmac

Following the abandonment of their semi-final matchup, defending champion Sparta Boss and 2012 winner Leopold Street, will lock horns today from 17:00hrs, at the National Cultural Center Tarmac in the Guinness ‘Greatest of the Streets’ Georgetown Zone.

Windies on the ropes chasing world record target

HAMILTON, New Zealand, CMC – Opener Kieran Powell completed a ‘pair’ to leave West Indies in dire straits in their pursuit of a world record target of 444 runs, after Ross Taylor’s 17th Test hundred put New Zealand in a near invincible position, in the seond and final Test here yesterday.

Eagles, High Stars match abandoned after players scuffle

The opening night of the fifth annual Upper Demerara Football Association (UDFA)/GT Beer Football Championship got off to an unfavorable start as the feature matchup between Eagles and High Stars was abandoned due to fighting.

Real Madrid face formidable PSG test

(Reuters) – Holders Real Madrid will have to overcome a sizeable obstacle when the Champions League resumes in February after yesterday’s draw pitted the 12-times winners against Paris St Germain.

Rosignol United, Hopetown FC score lopsided wins

Rosignol United and Hopetown FC secured lopsided wins when the GT Beer Berbice 8-a-side football tournament continued on Sunday at the Scott’s School ground, New Amsterdam (NA).

Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly.

We built stabroeknews.com using new technology. This makes our website faster, more feature rich and easier to use for 95% of our readers.
Unfortunately, your browser does not support some of these technologies. Click the button below and choose a modern browser to receive our intended user experience.

Update my browser now

×