Men accused of bribes negotiated with Qataris, New York court told

Nasser Al-Khelaifi at the PSG training ground. (AP)
Updated 22 November 2017
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Men accused of bribes negotiated with Qataris, New York court told

NEW YORK: A sports marketing company whose owners have been charged with bribing top soccer officials tried to negotiate a sale to an entity associated with Paris Saint-Germain team president Nasser Al-Khelaifi, a witness testified Tuesday in federal court.
As the second week of testimony finished in the trial of three former presidents of South American governing bodies, the son of the ex-head of Ecuador’s soccer federation gave an emotional account of how he laundered $2.8 million for his father, who is under house arrest in Quito after receiving a 10-year sentence for corruption.
“This is the hardest moment of my life,” said Jose Luis Chiriboga, a soccer agent, recalling how his father, Luis, told him: “Sorry, son, I destroyed your life.”
Santiago Pena, a former executive of the Argentina-based Full Play Group, testified that he spent a lengthy period of time on secret negotiations called the “New York project,” given the name because the deal for 51 percent of Full Play was valued at $212 million, and 212 is a New York City telephone area code.
Pena said the talks with Al-Khelaifi and the sovereign wealth fund Qatar Sports Investments ended on May 27, 2015, when US prosecutors unsealed indictments against Full Play’s controlling principals, the father and son Hugo and Mariano Jinkis, for racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy. They were charged for alleged payments to soccer officials in the Americas for broadcast and marketing contracts.
Al-Khelaifi and Qatar Sports would have had the right to buy an additional 19 percent at a later date, Pena said.
Al-Khelaifi is a criminal suspect in Switzerland for bribery linked to Qatar-owned BeIN Sports’ broadcast agreements with FIFA for 2026 and 2030 World Cup rights in the Middle East and North Africa. He met on Oct. 25 with Swiss prosecutors in Bern.
Pena said that only he, Hugo and Mariano Jinkis, and Full Play accountant Sergio Rabinovich were aware of the negotiations. Pena testified that after the indictments were made public, he deleted emails discussing the potential sale.
“I did it in order to protect the company,” he said.
Hugo and Mariano Jinkis have not been extradited to the US, and Pena said they remain in Argentina. Pena reached an agreement this year with US prosecutors to testify in exchange for not being charged.
“I always considered myself a completely small fish in this issue,” he said.
QSI and the BeIN media group said in a statement that “Qatar regularly looks at investment with their funds. This investment was proposed and considered, after review it was decided not to pursue. This happens very often.”


Al-Hilal boss Jorge Jesus reveals Omar Abdulrahman will make debut in Super Cup clash in London

Updated 17 August 2018
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Al-Hilal boss Jorge Jesus reveals Omar Abdulrahman will make debut in Super Cup clash in London

  • New boss Jorge Jesus to give start to new star signing after $17 million move from Al-Ain last week.
  • Al-Hilal coach keen to put on a good show in London and start season with silverware against Al-Ittihad.

LONDON: Jorge Jesus confirmed Omar Abdulrahman will make his Al-Hilal debut in the Saudi Super Cup final against Al-Ittihad on Saturday.
The UAE playmaker joined the Saudi Pro League champions last week in a loan deal from Al-Ain that was worth $17 million, a fee that has only been surpassed once in football history. 
The 26-year-old has been training with his new teammates at English football’s HQ at St. George’s Park this week and traveled down to London on Friday with the rest of the team ahead of the showpiece game at Loftus Road.
Abdulrahman has not played since May, when Al-Ain were dumped out of the AFC Champions League by Lekhwiya, and he was not considered for the Arab Club Champions Club on Sunday, but Jesus said the 2016 Asian Player of the Year is line to make his first appearance for his boyhood club this weekend.
“Omar is training with the team for five or six days,” said Jesus. “Intelligent players like Omar learn fast, so that’s why he will be part of the game.”
There are various subplots to the game in west London, not least the fact that Al-Ittihad coach Ramon Diaz comes up against the club that fired him in February. He won the double in the first season in Riyadh and then choreographed Al-Hilal’s run to the final of the AFC Champions League in his second. Now he goes up against Jesus, the Portuguese tactician who replaced him this summer.
“It’s true Diaz could know the players more and this could influence the match, but they are working with my ideas today and I expect the match to be an excellent game,” said Jesus.
Al-Hilal lost the Super Cup the last time it was held in London, losing to Al-Ahli on penalties in a thriller at Fulham’s Craven Cottage ground. Jesus knows this year’s match could provide a launchpad for the season ahead and broaden the appeal of football in the Kingdom. 
“Everybody knows the importance of this match, because we play outside Saudi Arabia,” he said. “It represents the image of our football. We are happy to be present in London and play the Saudi Super Cup here. The eyes of Europe sees London as the center of football, so we need to create a good image of Saudi football.”

Jorge Jesus is looking to get his reign as Al-Hilal coach off to a winning start at QPR's Loftus Road ground on Saturday. 


Jesus will be without the injured Salman Al-Faraj, Abdullah Otayf and Nawaf Al-Abed while national team full-back Yasser Al-Shahrani will undergo a late fitness test. 
“We are missing some players but that should not reduce the importance of some players we have in the squad,” said Jesus. “We have to find our best combination of players to go to the match with.”
Mohammad Al-Shalhoub will captain the side from midfield following the departure of Osama Hawsawi and knows bragging rights are up for grabs on Saturday between Saudi Arabia’s two most successful clubs who have won the top prize in the Kingdom 23 times between them.
“It’s one match, there is no other chance,” he said. “We will do our best to win the cup. We can start the season well if we win this cup. We will fight hard to win, but Ittihad is doing their hardest to win it, too. We are super motivated to show a good level and start with a Saudi Super Cup victory.”
Al-Hilal labored to a 1-0 win over Al-Shabab on Sunday night and know they will need to be much nearer their best against last season’s King’s Cup winners.
“In the beginning of the season, you can have some difficulties,“ Al-Shalhoub said. “Our first home game in the Arab Cup we showed a good level, but we have to me more ready against Ittihad.”