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PSG’s Qatari president charged in connection with Fifa bribery case

Al-Khelaifi is accused of inciting criminal mismanagement in connection with allegations against former Fifa general secretary Jerome Valcke
Qatari businessman Nasser al-Khelaifi became the president of Paris Saint-Germain in 2011 (AFP)

Qatari businessman Nasser al-Khelaifi has been charged by Swiss prosecutors in connection with a bribery investigation into World Cup television rights. 

Former secretary-general of FIFA, world football's governing body, Jerome Valcke and a third unnamed businessman were also indicted by the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG). 

“The OAG has charged Valcke with accepting bribes, several counts of aggravated criminal mismanagement, and falsification of documents,” a statement read on Thursday. 

“Al-Khelaifi and the third accused are charged with inciting Valcke to commit aggravated criminal mismanagement. The third accused is also charged with bribery.”

Al-Khelaifi, who is the chairman of the beIN media group and president of Qatar-owned football club Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), is alleged to have given “undue advantages” to Valcke. 

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The OAG said Valcke was refunded the downpayment of €500,000 ($540,000) for the purchase of a villa in Sardinia, after Al-Khelaifi purchased the property through a company instead of Valcke. Al-Khelaifi then allegedly gave Valcke exclusive right to use the villa for 18 months without having to pay rent estimated to be between €900,000 and €1.8 million.

The charges of paying and accepting bribes are based on allegations that Valcke exploited his position in FIFA to influence the award of media rights for various World Cup and FIFA Confederations Cup tournaments between 2018 and 2030. 

Valcke is currently serving a 10-year ban from all football-related activities after FIFA found him guilty of misconduct over the sale of World Cup tickets, abusing travel expenses, selling television rights below market value and destroying evidence relevant to the investigation.

The latest allegations will come as a blow to Qatar, which hosts the next World Cup. The Gulf emirate has come under criticism over the deaths of migrant workers involved in construction for the 2022 tournament. 

Al-Khelaifi is the chairman of Qatar Sports Investments (QSI), and was previously investigated over corruption in Qatar’s bid to host the World Athletics Championships in 2017. 

He became the president of PSG after QSI bought a majority stake in the French team in 2011. QSI is a subsidiary of the Qatar Investment Authority, which is founded and run by the ruling al-Thani family. 

Despite its Gulf owners investing over $1bn, PSG have failed so far to win the Champions League - Europe’s top club competition.