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. 

 


WHAT WE LEARNED: Delightful derbies and Lionel Messi misery

Updated 31 min 6 sec ago
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WHAT WE LEARNED: Delightful derbies and Lionel Messi misery

LONDON: It was a weekend of derbies and big clashes across Europe’s top leagues, and a genuine shock result in Spain has thrown the La Liga title race wide open. Here is what we learned from the latest round of matches.

MIND THE GAP
The gulf in class between City and United was there for all to see in Sunday’s Manchester derby. Jose Mourinho has bemoaned the difference in levels of investment in the two clubs in the past, but that does not wash when you note that United will struggle to get into the top four this season, let alone challenge for the title. City completely outclassed their rivals, and 3-1 flattered the visitors — it could have been a lot worse.

AN EPIC ‘DER KLASSIKER’
This was a pulsating game of football, which the hosts Dortmund edged 3-2, and one that forced Bayern Munich to acknowledge that this is a young, talented and dynamic Dortmund side who must be favorites to clinch the title now. Lucien Favre scoffed at that suggestion post-match and insisted the title race is still open — but in the Bundesliga seven points is a monumental gap, even for a club such as Bayern to overhaul.

BAD DAY IN MILAN
AC Milan’s defeat to runaway leaders Juventus showed another gulf in class — mainly due to Juventus having Cristiano Ronaldo in their ranks rather than the disappointing Gonzalo Higuain. But Milan’s other club, Inter, had an even worse weekend with Atalanta resoundingly ending their seven-match winning streak. All hopes for a title race in Italy seem to rest on Napoli once again, with the Milanese and Roman clubs fading fast.

MESSI CANNOT DO IT ALONE
With the exception of a hopeful few in the city of Seville, nobody foresaw Real Betis’ 4-3 victory over Barcelona at the Nou Camp, in the biggest La Liga shock for months. Lionel Messi managed a brace, but even that was not enough to deny victory for a very attractive Betis side — whose performance belied their 12th place in the table. It was the first time Messi had scored two goals and ended up on the losing side. He has made a stuttering start, by his own standards. It seems, sometimes, he needs his teammates to step up to the plate.