BELLINZONA: Swiss prosecutors have asked a federal criminal court in Bellinzona to jail Nasser Al-Khelaifi for 28 months in an appeal case centring on alleged corruption over the sale of media rights to the 2026 and 2030 World Cups
Al-Khelaïfi, president of Paris Saint-Germain and beIN Media, was acquitted of all charges in 2020 as was Jérôme Valcke, former secretary-general of world football federation FIFA.
Prosecutors appealed, hence the latest hearing in which both men continue to deny all charges.
They have demanded a prison sentence of 28 months against Al-Khelaïfi and another of 35 months against Valcke, as well as 30 months for a third defendant, the Greek businessman Konstantinos Nteris . Unlike in the original case, prosecutor Cristina Castellote has not requested a partial suspension of the sentences.
Al-Khelaïfi was accused of a secret agreement, without FIFA’s knowledge, before the signing in April 2014 of a contract between beIN and the FIFA regarding the broadcast rights in North Africa and the Middle East for the 2026 and 2020 World Cups.
Back then the court found that Valcke had favoured beIN in exchange for a luxurious villa on Sardinia’s Costa Smeralda, bought for him for €5m at the end of 2013 by a company of which Al-Khelaïfi was its owner for a short time.
In their civil sentence, the magistrates even described the deposit of the Sardinian villa as a “bribe”. But, in criminal matters, the court could not issue a conviction for “private corruption”, since FIFA withdrew its complaint in January 2020 after an agreement with Al-Khelaïfi whose terms have never been made public.
The accusation of “unfair management” remained, which needed to prove that the agreement between Al-Khelaïfi and Valcke harmed FIFA. However, the court then ruled that “nothing indicates that FIFA could have obtained a more advantageous contract” than the one signed with beIN for $480m for two World Cups, or 60pc more than its deal for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
The case continues.