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. 

 


New Zealand’s Crusaders lose for the first time since mosque shootings

Updated 24 March 2019
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New Zealand’s Crusaders lose for the first time since mosque shootings

  • The Christchurch-based Crusaders saw their year-long, 19-game winning streak ended in Sydney by the New South Wales Waratahs
  • The Crusaders have been asked by fans to change their name following last week's terror mosques attack that killed at least 50 worshippers

PRETORIA, South Africa: The Crusaders lost for the first time this season and the Chiefs won for the first time, shaking up Super Rugby at the top and the bottom of the standings on Saturday.
In their first game since the mosque shootings in their home city eight days earlier, the Christchurch-based Crusaders saw their year-long, 19-game winning streak ended in Sydney by the New South Wales Waratahs.
Wallabies fullback Israel Folau sealed the Waratahs’ 20-12 win and equaled Doug Howlett’s record of 59 Super Rugby tries when he followed up on a high kick and reacted quickest to score the home team’s third try in the 73rd minute. The Waratahs led 15-7 for most of the second half before Folau ensured there was no way back for the Crusaders.
The two-time defending champions’ first loss in a year was followed by another serious surprise in round six when the Hamilton-based Chiefs, winless and bottom of the overall standings, upset the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.
The Chiefs didn’t just win. They hammered the Bulls 56-20 and seven tries to two. There were doubles by winger Solomon Alaimalo, center Alex Nankivell, and captain Brodie Retallick as the Chiefs, who once lost a Super Rugby final 61-17 at Loftus, produced a spectacular turnaround in form.
The Crusaders’ loss meant the Hurricanes drew level with them on points at the top of the New Zealand conference. The Lions, the losing finalists the last three years, moved a point behind the Crusaders in the overall standings after beating the Sunwolves in Singapore.
The Sunwolves were on the board first in that game through a penalty try which saw Lions wing Sylvian Mahuza yellow-carded for a deliberate knock down.
The Lions were inspired by hooker Malcolm Marx, who scored two tries and came up with numerous crucial turnovers in the 37-24 win. That capped a miserable couple of days for the Tokyo-based Sunwolves, who learned on Friday they would be cut from Super Rugby at the end of next season.
Also, the Hurricanes beat the Stormers 34-28, and the Sharks beat Melbourne Rebels 28-14 to both gain ground.
The Waratahs made a fast start against the Crusaders, scoring tries through lock Jeb Holloway and wing Cameron Clark to lead 12-0 after as many minutes. They then kept steady defensive pressure on the Crusaders who made an uncharacteristic 18 handling errors.
The Waratahs were able to pin the Crusaders within their half and those errors cost the champions their usual continuity.
“Looking up at the board I see we had 46 percent of possession so we’re building wins off defense,” Waratahs captain Michael Hooper said. “I’m really happy that we were able to get tries when we can and then were able to build a big wall to stop these guys.”
The Crusaders were playing their first game in two weeks after last weekend’s scheduled fixture against the Highlanders was canceled in the wake of the shootings at two mosques in Christchurch which left 50 dead. On Saturday at the Sydney Cricket Ground, the Crusaders and Waratahs players stood together silently before the game, arm in arm, to remember the victims.
Winger Wes Goosen scored two second-half tries and Beauden Barrett contributed 14 points as the Hurricanes rallied to beat the Stormers 34-28.
The match presented a stark contrast in styles between the Hurricanes, who lacked a reliable set-piece and tried to play the game at pace, and the Stormers, who sought to slow play and control possession through a powerful forward pack.
The Hurricanes finally emerged on top, snatching the lead with a try to Barrett 10 minutes from fulltime and outscoring the Stormers by five tries to three. The lead changed hands five times in a close match in which neither side managed to exert complete control.
“From the outcome point of view it was good, we were certainly after that win,” Barrett said. “But there were moments there where we were frustrated.”