LONDON: The head of Qatari sports media group beIN, Nasser Al-Khelaifi, is facing bribery charges over the award of World Cup television rights.
Authorities in Switzerland have opened a criminal probe targeting Al-Khelaifi, who as chairman of Paris Saint-Germain is one of the football’s most powerful figures and FIFA’s former secretary general Jerome Valcke.
It is alleged that the Qatari bribed Valcke to award 2026 and 2030 World Cup rights to Qatari-owned beIN Media Group.
The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland said in a statement: “It is suspected that Jerome Valcke accepted undue advantages from a businessman in the sports rights sector in connection with the award of media rights for certain countries at the FIFA World Cups in 2018, 2022, 2026 and 2030, and from Nasser Al-Khelaifi in connection with the award of media rights for certain countries at the FIFA World Cups in 2026 and 2030.
“As it announced in March 2016, the OAG (Swiss Attorney General) is already conducting a proceeding against Jerome Valcke, in particular on suspicion of various acts of criminal mismanagement. This proceeding is still ongoing. The new proceeding has been opened primarily on the basis of findings obtained by the OAG in the earlier proceeding.”
The news comes as a huge blow to Al-Khelaifi who as PSG boss this summer succeeded in achieving major coup in landing Brazilian star Neymar from Barcelona in a world-record $263 million transfer. Thanks to Qatari money the French giants have become one of the biggest clubs in Europe.