The president of Paris Saint-Germain, Nasser Al-Khelaifi has been charged with criminal offenses in Switzerland. The charges span from undue advantages allegedly given to the former FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke. Valcke is also being charged for collecting bribes over World Cup TV rights.
The charges are said to be connected to Al-Khelaifi’s role as chairman of the BeIN Media Group. The office of the attorney general in Switzerland has released a statement saying:
“The OAG has charged Valcke with accepting bribes, several counts of aggravated criminal mismanagement. Al-Khelaifi and the third accused (a businessman in the sports rights sector) are charged with inciting Valcke to commit aggravated criminal mismanagement.”
After a thorough investigation, it has been revealed that Valcke received undue advantages from Al-Khelaifi and the third businessman accused. After purchasing a villa in Sardinia, Valcke reportedly refunded the down payment of €500,000 that the third party put down. Reports also show Al-Khelaifi also purchased the same villa through a company instead of Valcke. Valcke was granted rights to use the villa for a period of 18 months. The villa was occupied by Valcke up until he was suspended by FIFA without paying an estimated rent in between running from €900,000 to €1.8 million.
The third-party who has also been accused is believed to have paid Valcke €1.2 million in three installation payments which went to Valcke’s company Sportunited LLC. Valcke received charges on criminal mismanagement for not reporting the mentioned payments that he was given to FIFA. As the Secretary-general he was required to do so and failed to do so thus unlawfully enriching himself.
Al-Khelaifi and the third accused have been charged with corresponding incitement. Falsification of documents in which Valcke issued untruthful balance sheets for Sportunited LLC in 2013 and 2014 showed the three payments received were entered as loans.
A further statement from the attorney general office explains how Valcke exploited his position in using it to influence the award for media rights. The statement reads;
“The charges of paying and accepting bribes are based on the allegation that between 2013 and 2015 Valcke exploited his position as Secretary-General of FIFA to influence the award of media rights for Italy and Greece for various World Cup and FIFA Confederations Cup tournaments in the period between 2018 and 2030 in order to favor media partners that he preferred. In return, the third accused promised and indeed made the aforementioned three payments to Valcke totaling EUR 1.25 Mio.”
However, the attorney general’s office did not find the luxury wristwatch Al-Khelaifi gifted Valcke to be substantial in exerting his influence as Secretary-general of FIFA.
Valcke’s history of exploiting can be traced back to when he was the right-hand man of former president Sepp Blatter who was disgraced and banned from football for 6 years back in 2016. His tenure was mostly occupied with allegations of corruption. He was accused of financial mismanagement and collecting bribes to ensure Qatar win the 2022 World Cup bid. He was also accused of selling TV rights fairly below their market value and destruction of evidence.