Qatar’s BeIN chairman, two others indicted in bribery case

Former FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke, left, and the chairman of the BeIN media group Nasser Al-Khelaifi were charged in connection with the award of media rights to various World Cup and Confederations Cup tournaments. (AFP)
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Updated 20 February 2020

Qatar’s BeIN chairman, two others indicted in bribery case

  • Former FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke charged with accepting bribes, among others
  • Al-Khelaifi charged with inciting Valcke to commit aggravated criminal mismanagement

GENEVA: Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi was charged Thursday by Swiss federal prosecutors in connection with a wider bribery investigation linked to World Cup television rights.

The office of Switzerland’s attorney general filed an indictment charging Al-Khelaifi with inciting former FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke “to commit aggravated criminal mismanagement.”

The Qatari football and television executive, however, no longer faces an accusation of bribery. Following a three-year investigation, FIFA reached an “amicable agreement” with Al-Khelaifi last month, prosecutors said, to drop its criminal complaint relating to the awarding of 2026 and 2030 World Cup rights to Qatari broadcaster BeIN Sports.

Al-Khelaifi is the head of Doha-based BeIN Sports and also a member of the UEFA executive committee.

Al-Khelaifi was indicted for his alleged part in providing Valcke — who had influence over the awarding of World Cup rights until being removed from office in 2015 — with use of a luxury villa in Sardinia without paying rent valued at up to €1.8 million ($1.94 million).

Valcke was charged with accepting bribes, “several counts of aggravated criminal mismanagement … and falsification of documents.”

For the first time in the five-year investigation of FIFA business, Swiss prosecutors revealed that they believe Valcke received kickbacks totaling €1.25 million to steer World Cup rights toward favored broadcasters in Italy and Greece.

A third person who was not identified was charged with bribery over those payments and also for inciting Valcke to commit aggravated criminal mismanagement.

Al-Khelaifi was appointed to the UEFA executive committee, representing European football clubs, one year ago despite being implicated in the bribery case. He is also an influential board member of the European Club Association, which is seeking to drive reforms in the Champions League to favor elite clubs such as French champion PSG.

He denied wrongdoing after being questioned in 2017 and 2019 in connection with criminal proceedings opened three years ago.

Al-Khelaifi has also been implicated in a separate corruption investigation by French prosecutors that is linked to Qatar seeking hosting rights for the track and field world championships. Doha hosted the 2019 edition.

Mexican journalists protest over colleague’s murder

Maria Elena Ferral. (Social media)
Updated 01 April 2020

Mexican journalists protest over colleague’s murder

  • Ferral had many times complained of death threats and aggressions she suffered from local political figures

COATZACOALCOS, MEXICO: Journalists in Mexico’s eastern state of Veracruz protested on Tuesday against the murder of a reporter, demanding justice in a country that is notoriously dangerous for the press.
Maria Elena Ferral, a correspondent for the Diario de Xalapa daily newspaper, was shot by two assailants on motorbikes when getting into her car, local officials said on Monday.
Carrying banners and placards, journalists blocked a motorway, demanded justice and asked for police to use Ferral’s work as a starting point for their investigation.
Mexico is one of the world’s most dangerous countries for reporters, with more than 100 murdered since 2000.
This was the first such murder recorded in the country this year, though.
The Veracruz journalists network released a statement asking Mexico President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to “investigate the threats and background that she denounced previously.”
The local public prosecutor promised there would be “no impunity” for Ferral’s murderers.
Ferral had many times complained of death threats and aggressions she suffered from local political figures.
She worked in the Papantla mountainous area, around 300 kilometers from the port of Veracruz, known for the regular disappearance of people at the hands of the police.