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.


Petra Kvitova positive ahead of Dubai final against Belinda Bencic

Updated 22 February 2019
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Petra Kvitova positive ahead of Dubai final against Belinda Bencic

  • World No. 4 wins third three-setter of the week beat Hsieh Su-wei and claim place in the final.
  • Swiss star Bencic deals a forehand smash to Svitolina's chances of unprecedented hat-trick.

LONDON: If Petra Kvitova does get her hands on the Dubai trophy against Belinda Bencic on Saturday, she will be quick to admit she did it the hard way.
The two-time Wimbledon champion was once again made to toil at the Aviation Club as she finally overcame Hsieh Su-Wei 3-6, 6-2, 6-4. It was her third three-setter in four days and came about as much through sheer grit and determination as any superior groundstrokes or serves.
“Yeah, it was (tough),” the Czech said.
“It was a tough one, for sure. She really didn’t give me anything for free.
“It was a tough first set. I’m glad that I was able to came back in the second. Anyway I didn’t play great at the end of the first.”
Coming into the event the world No. 4 admitted she was undercooked and in need of some game time. While, in hindsight, the three-setters against Katerina Siniakova and Jennifer Brady in the first two rounds probably did her some good, another match that went the distance was probably not in the ideal script for the 2013 Dubai champion.
But Hsieh is a tricky opponent and she proved it once again on Centre Court. The world No. 31 hits two-handed shots off both sides and was trying to beat her fourth top-10 seed of the week. That included wins over Angelique Kerber in the third round and Karolina Pliskova in the quarterfinals.

Bencic will try to upset Kvitova in Saturday's final at the Aviation Club (AFP) 


She started off in much the same vein as she had finished against Kerber and Pliskova, hurrying Kvitova around the court and making life as uncomfortable as possible under the hot Dubai sun.
“She’s very tricky,” Kvitova said about Hsieh, who grabbed five games in a row to take the opening set and go up 1-0 in the second.
“I didn’t really play the best at the end of the first set. But I calmed down afterwards a little bit,” Kvitova said.
“With Hsieh, I need to be a little bit patient. ... It’s not really that easy to make those winners against her.”
While she has 
not consistently displayed her A-game this week it should come as no shock that Kvitova has made today’s final. It was the second seed’s 17th victory of 2019 — a feat bettered by no one — and it will be her third final of the season and 35th of her career. She revealed that her presence in the showdown is thanks to her mental toughness and she admitted that after a long week she will have to draw on that a lot today.
“I think I’m pleased with my kind of mental focus after losing the first set, that I was more calmer when I came back and played from the beginning of the second set,” Kvitova said.
“I still kind of felt that I can do that somehow — it was something weird.
“I’m a bit tired right now, to be honest. I have a final, so I don’t know how I going to recover. Hopefully I have a few hours to do something with me.”
Of her sparkling form so far this year she said: “It’s a bit weird, to be honest. I didn’t really expect anything like that. Well, to be honest, I didn’t expect anything, which I already achieved this year. For me, everything is just bonus.
“As I mentioned, the tennis, it’s a bit like escape this week. This is unbelievable to be in the final when I’m escaping from something. Yeah, very interesting.”
In the other semifinal Bencic once again upset the odds to overcome world No. 6 Elina Svitolina 6-2, 6-3, 7-6. The Swiss went into the clash as the underdog, but from the off the world No. 45 was aggressive and deservedly won.
In doing so she ended Svitolina’s 12-match winning streak in Dubai and ended the two-time defending champion’s hopes of becoming the first woman to win three Dubai titles in a row.