First Published: 2017-10-19

PSG's Khelaifi to be quizzed in Swiss World Cup probe
Swiss prosecutors will question beIN Media chief on October 25 in World Cup media rights probe.
Middle East Online

Under investigation since March

PARIS - Paris Saint-Germain president and beIN Media chief Nasser al-Khelaifi will be questioned by Swiss prosecutors on October 25 in a World Cup media rights probe, his lawyer said Wednesday.

Khelaifi, a Qatari, "wanted to be heard as soon as possible by the Swiss attorney general's office", the lawyer said, adding that his client "denies any corruption" over the sale of rights for future World Cups.

Swiss prosecutors revealed last week that Khelaifi, who has strong connections to Qatar's royal family, and disgraced former FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke have been under investigation since March.

Valcke was Sepp Blatter's right-hand man at FIFA until both were drummed out of world football's governing body.

FIFA has also said it is probing Khelaifi.

Al-Khelaifi appeared at PSG's Champions League match against Anderlecht in Brussels on Wednesday night with the French side winning 4-0.

Asked how the Qatari was feeling, PSG star Thiago Motta said: "He's doing very well, as always. He is close to the team and it's good for us to have him at our side".

A spokesman for the beIN group said last weekend that the TV broadcasting rights deal agreed for the 2026 and 2030 World Cups, which is the focus of the Swiss prosecutors, was "advantageous for FIFA".

The contract covers broadcasting rights for the MENA (Middle East, North Africa) region for the tournaments.

The Qatar broadcaster has denied any wrongdoing but French authorities raided the company's Paris offices last week at the request of Swiss authorities.

A raid was also carried out at a luxury Sardinian villa that, it is alleged, was put at the disposal of Valcke, who is serving a 10-year ban from all football-related activity.

The villa, set in lush grounds on the Mediterranean island and which has an estimated value of seven million euros ($8.3 million), is owned by an international real estate agency.

An increasingly prominent figure in sports and media, Khelaifi oversaw Paris Saint-Germain's audacious 222 million-euro ($264 million) world record signing of Brazilian superstar Neymar in August.

PSG, who were bought by Qatar Sports Investments in 2011, are not implicated in the Swiss investigation.

The corruption accusations are the latest to rock world football which is still reeling from the events of 2015, when FIFA officials were arrested en masse at the governing body's annual conference.

They are also the latest allegations to target Qatar.

The Gulf state has found itself routinely accused of corruption since controversially winning the right to host the 2022 World Cup, charges it has always denied.

 

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