PSG president Qatari Nasser Al-Khelaifi corruption trial set for September

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/File)
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Updated 28 April 2020

PSG president Qatari Nasser Al-Khelaifi corruption trial set for September

  • FIFA's former secretary general Jerome Valcke will also be tried in Switzerland
  • Corruption case linked to the attribution of broadcasting rights to Al-Khelaifi's BeIN Sports

LAUSANNE: Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi and FIFA’s former secretary general Jerome Valcke will be tried in September in a corruption case linked to the attribution of broadcasting rights, the Swiss judiciary said Tuesday.
The two will be tried in the southeastern Swiss city of Bellinzona along with a third, unnamed man, for criminal mismanagement, incitement to criminal mismanagement, falsifying documents and corruption, the federal criminal court said.
Al-Khelaifi, who is also the boss of Qatari television channel BeIN Sports, is suspected of giving inappropriate gifts to Valcke in order to secure broadcasting rights to prestigious events, including the 2026 and 2030 World Cups.
In exchange Valcke, formerly ex-FIFA boss Sepp Blatter’s right-hand man, gained, among other things, rent-free access to a luxury property on the Italian island of Sardinia.
After the date was set on Tuesday, Al-Khelaifi’s lawyers issued a statement insisting the case was “completely unfounded,” and insisted the charge against their client was “manifestly artificial.”
They also indicated that they had requested the recusal of prosecutors in the case and had filed a criminal complaint related to leaks, “making it uncertain whether the case will proceed at all.”
The indictment, which was published in February, accused the third man, described as “a businessman in the sports rights sector,” of bribery over a 1.25-million-euro ($1.35 million) payment to Valcke’s company Sportunited LLC.
Valcke also stands accused of exploiting his position at FIFA between 2013 and 2015 to influence the award of media rights for Italy and Greece for various World Cup and other tournaments scheduled between 2018 and 2030 “in order to favor media partners that he preferred,” in exchange for the payments from the unnamed businessman, according to the indictment.
He has also been charged with falsifying documents, after Sportsunited’s balance sheet listed those payments as loans.
While Al-Khelaifi was not indicted for bribery, prosecutors have laid out a serious case of incitement.
It alleges that Valcke was refunded a down-payment of around 500,000 euros that he had made to a third party on the purchase of a villa in Sardinia, after Al-Khelaifi purchased the villa through a company instead of Valcke.
Switzerland’s judiciary last week rejected a request from Al-Khelaifi for three federal prosecutors in the case to be recused, over claims that during a hearing on Dec. 6, 2019, he had not been given enough time to address all of the aspects of the case he deemed were necessary.
Valcke, who worked with Blatter from 2003 to 2015, has already been banned from football for 10 years for failing to cooperate with investigators over the resale of World Cup tickets and inflated expenses.


Real Madrid aim to put crisis behind them

Updated 31 October 2020

Real Madrid aim to put crisis behind them

MADRID:  Real Madrid will be hoping to leave their sticky patch behind them when they play Huesca in La Liga on Saturday, with an early six-point lead to preserve over Barcelona.

The resignation of Barca’s club president Josep Maria Bartomeu has overshadowed what has been a dramatic week for Madrid, who barely salvaged a 2-2 draw against Borussia Monchengladbach in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Trailing 2-0 with three minutes left, Madrid were facing a defeat that would have squandered the momentum gained from last weekend’s Clasico win at Camp Nou.

A late double from Karim Benzema and Casemiro ensured Zinedine Zidane’s side snatched a draw that felt like a win but to consolidate that positivity, they cannot afford another slip this weekend.

“The team is what it has shown, it’s about a reaction,” said Zidane. “The first half was very good, we played well. The pity is we conceded the first goal, but we continued to think it was possible, even at 2-0.

“That showed the character of the team and I’m very proud of them. We are not happy because we want to win, but we must be happy with the performance.”

Madrid play a Huesca side that is yet to win this season, as they followed four consecutive draws with a 4-1 loss away at league leaders Real Sociedad on Sunday.

Zidane could also hand Eden Hazard his first start since August, after the Belgian came off the bench in midweek.

That was Hazard’s first appearance of the season as he tries to overcome his latest injury setback, which the club have only described as a muscle injury.

“It’s good. I’m here to play football,” said Hazard on Wednesday. “After two or three months off the pitch, I’m so happy. I just want to play football, that’s why I’m here.”

On the last-gasp draw in Germany, Hazard said: “We showed great character, to be 2-0 down with five minutes to play, I think we could have scored one more, I could have scored one more, but I missed. It’s not three points but it feels like a victory.”

Zidane was determined to give Hazard time to recover fully and he believes the club will have to be cautious.

“He’s just started playing. It is his first game after a long time away,” said Zidane. “The plan was for him to try to play but little by little is what we have to do.”

A Madrid victory against Huesca could send them back to the top of the table, above Real Sociedad who are the only team to have retained top spot in consecutive rounds so far this term.

Real Sociedad play away at Celta Vigo on Sunday, just before third-placed Granada host Levante and struggling Valencia play at home to Getafe.

If Atletico Madrid win their two games in hand they will go top, with Diego Simeone’s side away at Osasuna on Saturday.

Barcelona, who beat Juventus on Wednesday, also have two games in hand but are seven points off the lead. Their new era without Bartomeu begins in La Liga away at Alaves on Saturday night.