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. 

 


Kyrgios withdraws from French Open, citing illness

Updated 24 May 2019
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Kyrgios withdraws from French Open, citing illness

  • Roger Federer plays down chances of his winning the mega title

PARIS: After a tantrum in Italy last week, Nick Kyrgios withdrew from the French Open on Friday.

The ATP said the Australian player cited illness as the reason.

Last week at the Italian Open, the 36th-ranked Kyrgios was defaulted and fined during his second-round match after an outburst of rage. Trailing against Norwegian qualifier Casper Ruud, Kyrgios slammed his racket to the clay and kicked a water bottle. Then he picked up a white chair and flung it onto the court.

Kyrgios was fined and lost ATP points but escaped suspension and was expected to play in Paris.

His withdrawal came only days after Kyrgios posted a video online in which he said the French Open “sucks” when compared to Wimbledon, where he trained recently.

In 2015, Kyrgios insulted Stan Wawrinka with crude remarks during a match in Montreal. He was fined $12,500 and given a suspended 28-day ban. He also attracted criticism for deciding not to play at the Olympics because of a spat with an Australian team official, and for firing back at retired players who have offered advice.

Also on Friday, Roger Federer played down his chances of winning the French Open on his first appearance at Roland Garros since 2015, saying that title-winning form might not be “in his racquet.”

The 20-time Grand Slam champion missed the French Open in 2016 through injury before sitting out the next two clay-court seasons in order to focus on Wimbledon.

But he will make his Roland Garros return on Sunday with a first-round tie against unheralded Italian Lorenzo Sonego.

Federer admitted that he is unsure of his title chances, but did compare his current situation with when he ended a five-year Grand Slam drought at the Australian Open in 2017.

“(I) don’t know (if I can win the tournament). A bit of a question mark for me. Some ways I feel similar to maybe the Australian Open in ‘17,” the 2009 French Open winner said.

“A bit of the unknown. I feel like I’m playing good tennis, but is it enough against the absolute top guys when it really comes to the crunch? I’m not sure if it’s in my racquet.

“But I hope I can get myself in that position deep down in the tournament against the top guys. But first I need to get there and I know that’s a challenge in itself.”

Despite being the third seed, Federer faces a tricky draw, with a possible quarter-final against Greek youngster Stefanos Tsitsipas — who beat him in the Australian Open last 16 — and a potential last-four clash with 11-time champion and old adversary Rafael Nadal.

Meanwhile, Nadal said on Friday that he “doesn’t care” if he is the red-hot favorite to lift a record-extending 12th French Open title, insisting that there are a host of players in contention for the trophy.

The world number two holds an incredible French Open win-loss record of 86-2, and hit top form by winning his ninth Italian Open last week with a final victory over old rival Novak Djokovic.