Qatar-owned PSG and FIFA boss Gianni Infantino accused of corruption in FFP probe

The purchase of Neymar for a world record $262 million is just one of the many jaw-dropping deals PSG have been able to do thanks to the riches given to them by Qatar. (AFP)
Updated 04 November 2018
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Qatar-owned PSG and FIFA boss Gianni Infantino accused of corruption in FFP probe

  • FIFA boss Infantino helped PSG get around Financial Fair Play rules
  • Also alleged former French President Nicolas Sarkozy promised French backing for the Qatar World Cup if the gulf state bought the Paris club.

LONDON: UEFA helped Paris Saint-Germain get around their own Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules, and according to a Football Leaks investigation published this weekend.

It has also been alleged that former French President Nicolas Sarkozy promised Qatar's Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani that then UEFA president Michel Platini would back the Gulf state’s bid to host the 2022 World Cup on condition of Doha buying PSG and launch BeIN Sports channel in France.

The leaks form part of a treasure trove of allegations that further undermine the credibility of the FIFA boss Gianni Infantino, who promised to clean up football’s governing body on taking over from the discredited Sepp Blatter, and the decision to award the 2022 hosting rights to Qatar. 

Among the allegations it is said that Infantino, as UEFA secretary general, allowed PSG to operate with impunity regarding FFP, the body dishing out only minor penalties for violations to the Qatar-owned club, falling way short of  the most severe penalty that could have been thrown at them — expulsion from the Champions League. 

Infantino — despite an obligation to strict neutrality — reportedly met for secret negotiations with club bosses PSG. 

 

FIFA boss Gianni Infantino has once again been thrust into the spotlight over his role in FFP punishments dished out to PSG

Since Qatar took over Paris Saint-Germain in 2011 it has invested over €1 billion on players alone and greatly increased the budget of the capital club.

Football Leaks points the finger at PSG's five-year agreement with the Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA), valued at €1.075 ($1.22 billion), or €215 million a year.

That is despite the investigation claiming that "two independent auditors assigned by UEFA valued the contract as (far less than the value ascribed by PSG).”

UEFA rules say clubs cannot spend more than they earn in any given season and deficits must fall within a €30 million limit over three seasons.

PSG were fined €60 million by UEFA in May 2014, but were told they would get €40 million back if they stuck to the terms of their settlement. This bypassed the Financial Control Panel of European football's governing body. Infantino’s proposal, it is reported, was for a "fine of €20 million instead of €60 (million).”

FIFA have blasted the claims as an attempt to "undermine the leadership" of the global body.

 

French former president Nicolas Sarkozy (R) speaks with the president and head of Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) and president of the PSG Nasser al-Khelaifi. The relationship between Sarkozy and Qatar has once again been questioned in relation to the shock decision to award the Gulf state the 2022 World Cup. 

French former president Nicolas Sarkozy (R) speaks with the president and head of Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) and president of the PSG Nasser al-Khelaifi. The relationship between Sarkozy and Qatar has once again been questioned in relation to the shock decision to award the Gulf state the 2022 World Cup. 

"It seems obvious from the 'reporting' carried out in some media outlets that there is only one particular aim — an attempt to undermine the new leadership of FIFA and, in particular, the president, Gianni Infantino, and the secretary general, Fatma Samoura,” football’s governing body said in a statement. 

The under fire Infantino added: "It is always a challenge to change things, to move forward, and to bring people together in order to do things better.

"And, as we are resolutely implementing the reforms at FIFA, it was always clear to me that I would face strong opposition, especially from those who cannot anymore shamelessly profit from the system they were part of."

PSG have responded to the allegations by insisting they have "always strictly complied with all applicable laws and regulations and firmly denies the allegations published today by Mediapart.”

FIFA made no mention of the reported promise made by Sarkozy to Qatar regarding the World Cup, but it once again brings into question the decision to award the hosting of the tournament to the gulf state. 

It has long been rumored that the sale of PSG to Qatar was part of a deal in which France would back the Doha bid for the 2022 tournament — something Sarkozy and then UEFA president Michel Platini have always denied. 

But since the shock announcement that Qatar would be hosting the 2022 event, allegations of dirty deals and corruption have never been far away and the pressure to see the World Cup played somewhere else will likely only increase. 

 


Giorgio Chiellini confident Juventus can buck recent trend of Supercoppa defeats

Though upbeat, Juventus captain Giorgio Chiellini admitted that it will be a “difficult match.” (AN Photo by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 16 January 2019
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Giorgio Chiellini confident Juventus can buck recent trend of Supercoppa defeats

  • Skipper also happy the match is being played in Jeddah, and sees it as a ‘step forward’ for Saudi Arabia
  • AC Milan coach Gennaro Gattuso sidesteps questions about Gonzalo Higuain’s rumored move to English Premier League

JEDDAH: Juventus have been experiencing a worrying trend in cup finals of late. Despite securing the Serie A and Coppa Italia double for three seasons running, they have lost back-to-back Supercoppas and seven out of nine European cup finals. It’s a trend, however, that captain Giorgio Chiellini believes can be halted on January 16 when his side takes on AC Milan in the Supercoppa Italiana final at King Abdullah Sports City Stadium in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
“We want to change that trend that has seen us lose the last two Supercoppa finals, and this is the ideal opportunity,” said the defender. “We have changed a great deal in two years, but we’ve got to prove ourselves with actions rather than words because we let a few too many of these trophies slip through our fingers and it’s a shame.
“It’s going to be a difficult match but the objective is to start 2019 lifting a trophy above our heads.”
Chiellini also defended the choice of Jeddah as the venue for the game against a backdrop of criticism by some. He said that it was “right” to give the Saudi port city the chance to host the showpiece match.
“I am happy this game is being played here and can be seen as a further reason for progress in this country, and I see it as a step forward and not a problem,” he said. “We (soccer players) cannot change the world but initiatives such as this can provide a new start.
“We have been given a warm welcome and I hope tomorrow can be remembered by the Saudi people as a wonderful celebration. We have to provide a spectacle of Italian football and know that all fans will be happy with our performances.”
As the rival teams faced the media on the eve of the match, both were confident about their chances of lifting the first silverware of the Italian soccer season. This year marks the 31st Supercoppa, a match contested by the previous season’s Serie A domestic league champions and the winners of the Coppa Italia. When a single team wins both honors, as was the case last season, they take on the Coppa Italia runners-up.
This year’s game, the tickets for which reportedly sold out in two days, might also mark a farewell to Italian football for striker Gonzalo Higuain, who is currently on loan to AC Milan from Juventus but is widely rumored to be on the verge of a move to Chelsea in the English Premier League. If the Argentine international is indeed on his way out, he will be hoping to end his stay with the Rossoneri with some silverware while also, perhaps, sticking it to his parent club.

Milan coach Gennaro Gattuso (center) said Higuain has never told him he wants to leave the club. (AN Photo by Huda Bashatah)

Asked about the status of any transfer talks, AC Milan head coach Gennaro Gattuso was careful to avoid feeding the rumor mill.
“At this moment, I have to repeat the same words: there are many rumors but Higuain is training well and working with everyone just fine and is at our disposal,” he said. “I base my decisions on how players train during the week and how they work with the staff and their teammates. We’ll see tomorrow whether he plays or not.
“I want to reiterate that Higuain has never told me he wants to leave. I am waiting for that. He has to decide what to do, how to resolve this issue, but right now he is training with great professionalism. We’ll see.”
Gattuso then nipped this line of questioning in the bud by adding: “I want to be honest; I don’t even want to talk about Higuain as we’re here for the Supercoppa.”
Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri, meanwhile, is well aware that while they are undefeated in Serie A this season after 19 games, with 17 wins and two draws, league form counts for little in a cup final, as evidenced by their recent results in such games. As such, he is keen to avoid any complacency among his players.
“One of the great strengths of this team is our respect for the opposition, otherwise you don’t win as many games as we have,” he said. “There are 22 points separating our teams in Serie A but those don’t matter here. If we do not have great humility and respect for Milan tomorrow, then it’s unlikely we will win the game.”
The prematch press conference inevitably included questions about Cristiano Ronaldo. Since his 112 million euro ($128 million) move to Juventus from Real Madrid last summer, the Portuguese star has netted 15 goals in 25 appearances. On Wednesday, the five-time winner of the Ballon d'Or — an award presented each year by France Football magazine to the player judged to be the best in the world — will aim to lift his maiden trophy with his new club, after having bagged 15 titles during his nine years with the Spanish giants.
While Ronaldo did not appear at the press conference, Allegri was asked whether the striker had arrived in Italy with a stronger and hungrier desire to win.
“He would have to win something first to prove that,” the coach said. “Cristiano is accustomed to winning; he has won four of the past five Champions Leagues and many more titles. Ronaldo is the best player in the world and clearly an added bonus for us. Our situation has certainly improved with his presence.”
Wednesday night’s match is sure to be hotly contested, as Juventus and AC Milan currently share the record for Supercoppa titles, with seven each. While Juventus are making their seventh successive Supercoppa appearance, it is perhaps AC Milan who can lay claim to bragging rights, given that the last time these two teams met in the Supercoppa, in 2016, the Rossoneri ended up on top following a penalty shoot-out after the game ended in a 1-1 draw after extra time. With all the talking officially done, all that remains is a historic night of top quality soccer at King Abdullah Sports City Stadium.