PSG’s Khelaifi to be quizzed in Swiss World Cup probe on October 25 — lawyer

Former FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke, left, Paris Saint-Germain's Qatari president Nasser Al-Khelaifi. (AFP)
Updated 18 October 2017
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PSG’s Khelaifi to be quizzed in Swiss World Cup probe on October 25 — lawyer

PARIS: Paris Saint-Germain president and beIN Media chief Nasser Al-Khelaifi will be questioned by Swiss prosecutors on October 25 in a World Cup media rights probe, his lawyer told AFP Wednesday.
Khelaifi, a Qatari, “wanted to be heard as soon as possible by the Swiss attorney general’s office,” the lawyer said, adding that his client “denies any corruption” over the sale of rights for future World Cups.
Swiss prosecutors revealed last week that Khelaifi, who has strong connections to Qatar’s royal family, and disgraced former FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke have been under investigation since March.
Valcke was Sepp Blatter’s right-hand man at FIFA until both were drummed out of world football’s governing body.
FIFA has also said it is probing Khelaifi.
A spokesman for the beIN group told AFP last weekend that the TV broadcasting rights deal agreed for the 2026 and 2030 World Cups, which is the focus of the Swiss prosecutors, was “advantageous for FIFA.”
The contract covers broadcasting rights for the MENA (Middle East, North Africa) region for the tournaments.
The Qatar broadcaster has denied any wrongdoing but French authorities raided the company’s Paris offices last week at the request of Swiss authorities.
A raid was also carried out at a luxury Sardinian villa that, it is alleged, was put at the disposal of Valcke, who is serving a 10-year ban from all football-related activity.
The villa, set in lush grounds on the Mediterranean island and which has an estimated value of seven million euros ($8.3 million), is owned by an international real estate agency.
Khelaifi has been in Doha but he was expected back in Europe on Wednesday afternoon in time to attend PSG’s Champions League game with Anderlecht in Brussels at 2045 local time (1845 GMT).
An increasingly prominent figure in sports and media, Khelaifi oversaw Paris Saint-Germain’s audacious 222 million-euro ($264 million) world record signing of Brazilian superstar Neymar in August.
PSG, who were bought by Qatar Sports Investments in 2011, are not implicated in the Swiss investigation.
The corruption accusations are the latest to rock world football which is still reeling from the events of 2015, when FIFA officials were arrested en masse at the governing body’s annual conference.
They are also the latest allegations to target Qatar.
The Gulf state has found itself routinely accused of corruption since controversially winning the right to host the 2022 World Cup, charges it has always denied.


‘Good, but not good enough’: Juan Antonio Pizzi on Saudi Arabia’s defeat to Uruguay

Updated 20 June 2018
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‘Good, but not good enough’: Juan Antonio Pizzi on Saudi Arabia’s defeat to Uruguay

  • A Luis Suaréz goal midway through the first half gave Uruguay a 1-0 win
  • Pizzi had spoken passionately about the need for his side to demonstrate a higher level of focus and performance

ROSTOV-ON-DON: Good, but not good enough.
That was what Juan Antonio Pizzi stated as he declared himself pleased with his team’s performance in the 1-0 defeat to Uruguay on Wednesday night.
But he lamented his side’s lack of firepower as they exited the World Cup after just two matches.
Pizzi had spoken passionately about the need for his side to demonstrate a higher level of focus and performance in Rostov-on-Don after losing their opening game 5-0 to hosts Russia in Moscow last week.
The Argentine got his wish with a display that saw the Green Falcons fight throughout and edge possession against a Uruguay side ranked 14th in the world.
A Luis Suaréz goal midway through the first half after poor goalkeeping from Mohammed Al-Owais, however, was enough to hand the Green Falcons a 12th successive World Cup defeat.
The result means that even with a win against Egypt on Monday, the Green Falcons are no longer capable of progressing to the knock-out stages from Group A.
“We had a lot of ball possession and were able to impose our style of play and distribution,” said Pizzi. “We conceded a goal from a random play and didn’t have the weapons or tools to try to equalize. We kept the ball well and weren’t really troubled defensively, but lacked that ability to score.”
Indeed, for all their possession, Saudi Arabia have managed just three shots on target in 180 minutes of football. Against Russia, they failed to muster a single effort on target and the managed just three against Uruguay, two of which came in the final minutes when they knew they had to score or face elimination. None of the three shots came from a striker.
“This is our weakness. We have good ball possession, but no effectiveness. We lack the depth and skill required to win these games,” Pizzi added. “We have that deficiency and have looked for solutions, but we haven’t quite come up with one yet. But that is one of the reasons great forward are in high demand and are the elite players in world football.”
Pizzi had made four changes ahead of the match, dropping goalkeeper Abdullah Al-Mayouf in favor of Al-Owais and introducing Ali Al-Bulayhi at the heart of the defense alongside Osama Hawsawi. Further upfield, Hattan Bahberi came in for Yahya Al-Shehri and Fahad Al-Muwallad replaced Mohammed Al-Sahlawi. The changes, particularly the inclusion of Bahberi, seemed to give the side more impetus in midfield.
“The difference between the performance in the first game and this game is enormous,” Pizzi said. “The only way to compete at this level is to play at the level we did here. And even then it was not enough even to get a draw. Undoubtedly there were other factors aside from the pressure of playing in the opening game that made a difference, but it’s true that the difference was enormous.”
Many critics had predicted a deluge of goals from the likes of Suarez and Cavani, yet both were kept at bay. Save for a couple of half-chances early on, neither came close to scoring until the 23rd minute.
A corner from Carlos Sanchez sailed into the area and when Al-Owais came for it but failed to connect with his punch, Barcelona forward Suaréz was left with the simplest of tap-ins. He was so caught off-guard, he actually looked surprised as he reeled away in celebration.
“I believe you cannot be relaxed in any match,” Suarez said when asked by a Uruguayan journalist whether he had taken it easy against the Saudis.
“We wanted to win and to progress to the knock-out stage and this game simply showed how difficult it is. That’s the World Cup for you though and we are obviously delighted with how we have performed so far to progress.”
Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez did not share his striker’s sentiments.
“Saudi Arabia wanted to excel and give a better account of themselves after losing to Russia,” he said.
“They did that very well and we have to respect them. But what surprised me the most is how we played. We underperformed.”