Qatari chairman of Paris Saint-Germain accused of bribery

Nasser Al-Khelaifi
Updated 12 October 2017
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Qatari chairman of Paris Saint-Germain accused of bribery

LONDON: The head of Qatari sports media group beIN, Nasser Al-Khelaifi, is facing bribery charges over the award of World Cup television rights.
Authorities in Switzerland have opened a criminal probe targeting Al-Khelaifi, who as chairman of Paris Saint-Germain is one of football’s most powerful figures, and FIFA’s former secretary general Jerome Valcke.
It is alleged that the Qatari bribed Valcke to award 2026 and 2030 World Cup rights to Qatari-owned beIN Media Group.
The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland said in a statement: “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.
“As it announced in March 2016, the OAG (Swiss Attorney General) is already conducting a proceeding against Jerome Valcke, in particular on suspicion of various acts of criminal mismanagement. This proceeding is still ongoing. The new proceeding has been opened primarily on the basis of findings obtained by the OAG in the earlier proceeding.”
The news comes as a huge blow to Al-Khelaifi who as PSG boss this summer succeeded in achieving major coup in landing Brazilian star Neymar from Barcelona in a world-record $263 million transfer. Thanks to Qatari money the French giants have become one of the biggest clubs in Europe.
But the Al-Khelaifi probe also comes as another blow for Qatar’s reputation, despite its “soft power” bids to boost its reputation through purchasing sports teams and hosting the 2022 World Cup.
Such aims to project its power have been undermined by frequent accusations of wrongdoing.
It comes a week after a report on the Qatar World Cup by a London-based consultancy was leaked to the BBC. The study concluded that there are many reasons — ranging from allegations of corruption, to the current regional political crisis, to the possible knock-on effects on infrastructure projects — to predict that the tournament will not take place in the country, warning construction companies that it is a “high-risk” project to work on.
The criminal proceeding against Al-Khelaifi was opened on March 20, but only announced on Thursday, the Swiss federal office said. The case stemmed from a wider investigation into FIFA’s business that saw criminal proceedings opened against Valcke in March 2016.
Valcke, who is no stranger to controversy, was FIFA’s secretary-general under then-President Sepp Blatter from 2007 until he was fired in January 2016. He was in Switzerland yesterday to testify at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in his appeal hearing against a 10-year ban by FIFA for financial wrongdoing and abuse of expenses.


‘On edge’ Federer makes winning Paris return

Updated 27 May 2019
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‘On edge’ Federer makes winning Paris return

  • Angelique Kerber’s hopes of completing career Grand slam end after early exit
  • Kerber, 31, has now lost six times in the French Open first round

PARIS: Roger Federer marked his return to Roland Garros after a four-year absence with a straight sets win over Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego on Sunday, admitting he “felt on edge,” as Angelique Kerber’s hopes of completing a career Grand Slam suffered a quick kill.

Federer, a 20-time major winner, had not played the tournament since 2015 when he reached the quarterfinals.

However, on Sunday, it was as if the 37-year-old had never been away as he swept to a 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 victory in one hour 41 minutes on a packed, rebuilt Court Philippe Chatrier.

It was his 60th successive first round win at a Grand Slam.

“I felt on edge at the start, my heart was beating crazily,” said Federer, who hailed the new-look stadium which has been 90 percent rebuilt in readiness for the installation of a retractable roof for 2020.

“I felt great playing on this court. It looks very attractive, so congratulations to everyone involved.

“Hopefully I can play here again for my next match.”

That match will be against German lucky loser Oscar Otte who won just his second match in eight years on the tour by seeing off Malek Jaziri of Tunisia 6-3, 6-1, 4-6, 6-0.

“I would be surprised if Roger knew my name,” said Otte, the world No. 145.

Federer broke serve five times and fired 36 winners past 24-year-old Sonego, the world No. 73 who made the quarterfinals at the Monte Carlo Masters.

German fifth seed and reigning Wimbledon champion Kerber saw her hopes of a career Grand Slam ended by Russian teenager Anastasia Potapova.

Kerber slumped to a 6-4, 6-2 defeat to 18-year-old Potapova who was making her French Open debut.

“Kerber is actually one of my idols, and when I was young I was looking for her game,” said the 81st-ranked Russian who hit 28 winners past her German opponent.

Kerber, 31, has now lost six times in the French Open first round.

The German left-hander had come into Roland Garros carrying a right ankle injury which forced her to pull out of the Italian Open and retire from her second round tie in Madrid.

“I didn’t have many expectations coming in,” said Kerber, who was broken six times in the match which brought the curtain up on the newlook Chatrier arena.

Potapova’s first win over a top 10 player gives her a second round clash against 19-year-old Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic.

Greek sixth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, who stunned Federer on his way to the Australian Open semifinals and beat 11-time Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal in Madrid, also made the second round.

The 20-year-old sixth seed brushed aside Germany’s Maximilian Marterer 6-2, 6-2, 7-6 (7/4).

The new Court Simonne Mathieu, a 5,000-capacity semi-sunken arena enclosed by greenhouses, was officially unveiled on Sunday.

It forms part of the €350 million upgrade of the entire site which will also see the demolition of the Court 1 ‘bullring’ after the 2018 tournament.

Spain’s Garbine Muguruza, the 2016 champion, had the honor of opening proceedings against America’s Taylor Townsend and the 19th seed marked the occasion with a 5-7, 6-2, 6-2 win.

“It’s cute,” said the Spaniard. “It’s not small, but it’s, you know, cozy.”

Other winners on the first day included Japanese seventh seed Kei Nishikori, a quarterfinalist in 2015, who eased past France’s Quentin Halys 6-2, 6-3, 6-4.

However, Italian 16th seed Marco Cecchinato, the man who sent Novak Djokovic crashing out in the quarterfinals in 2018, fell at the first hurdle.

Cecchinato lost to 37-year-old Frenchman Nicolas Mahut —  who has slipped to 253 in the world — 2-6, 6-7 (6/8), 6-4, 6-2, 6-4.

Canada teenager Felix Auger-Aliassime withdrew from the tournament with a thigh injury, just a day after finishing runner-up to Benoit Paire in Lyon.

The 18-year-old was seeded 25 and had been due to face Australia’s Jordan Thompson in the first round on his maiden appearance in the main draw in Paris.

Auger-Aliassime’s spot in the first round draw has been taken by Spanish lucky loser Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

Second seed Karolina Pliskova closed play on Chatrier with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Madison Brengle of the US.