PSG president faces criminal investigation

Derek Wilson
Swiss prosecutors have opened criminal proceedings against PSG chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi

Nasser Al-Khelaifi, the Qatari president of Paris Saint-Germain, is facing criminal proceedings in Switzerland in connection with the award of media rights for certain countries at the FIFA World Cup.

Al-Khelaifi, chief executive officer of the Qatari beIN Media Group and chairman of Ligue 1 leaders PSG, is suspected of giving "undue advantages" to Jerome Valcke, the former secretary general of global football governing body FIFA, in connection to media rights for the 2026 and 2030 World Cups.

The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) said in a statement that a case was opened on March 20, 2017, against Al-Khelaifi, Valcke and an unnamed businessman from the sports rights sector.

According to the OAG, Valcke is also suspected of accepting advantages from the businessman for rights to the 2018, 2022, 2026 and 2030 editions.

Valcke, under a separate investigation by Swiss authorities for criminal mismanagement since 2016, was questioned as a suspect on Thursday and properties searched in France, Greece, Italy and Spain.

The European Union's Judicial Cooperation Unit (EUROJUST) said "multiple premises were searched, assets were seized and interviews were conducted as a result of this joint operation."

The OAG said the investigation relates to "bribery of private individuals, fraud, criminal mismanagement and forgery of a document."

The 43-year-old Al-Khelaifi is chairman of Qatar Sports Investments which has invested heavily in PSG. Recent big money transfers of Neymar, from Barcelona, and teenage star Kylian Mbappe from Monaco, have left other prominent clubs and officials in Europe frustrated at the new spending power of the French team.

His involvement is a direct link to Qatar, host of the 2022 World Cup, in investigations led by the United States and Swiss into football corruption.

The OAG said the case developed from the initial proceedings against Valcke, who on Wednesday testified at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in his appeal against a 10-year ban from football imposed by FIFA.

Valcke was sacked by FIFA in January 2016 in connection with affairs around World Cup tickets and television rights.