KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: Jerome Valcke and Qatari TV sports channel beIN have both denied any wrongdoing after being targeted by the Office of the Swiss Attorney General investigating allegations of bribery connected to World Cup broadcasting deals.
Property raided by police in four countries last week included a £6m villa in Sardinia which, according to Italian police, had been “put at the disposal of Valcke” by beIN ceo Nasser Al-Khelaifi as a “means of corruption.”
French prosecutors have critised beIN for providing only limited co-operation with their own leg of the investigation.
Frenchman Valcke, 57, was secretary-general of world football federation FIFA from 2007 until January 2016 when he was sacked after havibg been suspended for 10 years by the ethics committee over allegations concerning the mishandling of World Cup ticket sales.
Qatari Al-Khelaifi is not only head of beIN – which has extensive TV rights deal in world football – but president of French club Paris Saint-Germain which made worldwide headlines in the summer by splashing a record €222m to lure Brazilian superstar Neymar from Barcelona.
The 43-year-old is also a member of the executive committee of the European Club Association and is an ECA delegate on the professional strategy council of European federation UEFA.
The OAG’s ever-expanding inquiry into football corruption began after co-operation in 2005 with the United States Justice Department which had sought the detention for extradition of seven senior football executives on charges of bribery, fraud and money-laundering.
Subsequently the OAG charged the then FIFA president Sepp Blatter with a ‘disloyal payment’ to then UEFA head Michel Platini. Both were banned from football while Valcke was charged over separate allegations concerning FIFA business.
On Thursday an OAG statement said: “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.”
Valcke, who had contested his football ban at the Court of Arbitration for Sport last week, told French newspaper L’Equipe: “It’s not true. I have never done that.”
He added: “I have never received anything in exchange for anything. I refute the accusations against me or Nasser. I have received nothing from Nasser. There was never any exchange between Nasser and I. Never.”
Similarly beIN said: “Following a request by the OAG the beIN Sports offices in Boulogne-Billancourt were searched. The employees on site co-operated with the authorities until the end of the search.
“BeIN Media Group refutes all accusations made by the OAG. The company will fully co-operate with the authorities and is confident as to the future developments of the investigation.”
According to reports from the French prosecutors’ office, further authorisation is being sought to obtain access to data hosted on beIN servers in the Qatari capital Doha.
The Sardinian mansion involved in the case is known as Villa Bianca, at Porto Cervo. It has been made subject of a seizure application by a court in the island’s main city of Cagliari.