Thursday, October 29, 2020

Swiss prosecutors seek 3 years jail terms for Qatar beIN chairman Nasser Al Khelaifi in bribery probe

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Swiss prosecutors have demanded jail terms of up to three years be handed down to the chairman of Qatar’s beIN Media Group, Nasser Al Khelaifi, and Fifa’s former secretary general Jerome Valcke.

The pair are on trial in Switzerland over the awarding of television rights to 2026 and 2030 World Cups.

It is alleged Valcke received exclusive use of a villa belonging to Al Khelaifi in Sardinia for 18 months without paying a total rent of up to €1.8 million (Dh7.8 million).

On Tuesday, prosecutors asked Switzerland’s federal court to give Al Khelaifi a 28-month jail time and Valcke three-years if convicted.

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The trial is moving into its final days.

The court heard beIN Media Group was awarded TV rights without other tenders being sought for two World Cups.

Niclas Ericson, Fifa’s former television rights director, told the football corruption trial that broadcasting rights for 2026 and 2030 Middle East and North Africa cups were not put to tender before being awarded to beIN Media Group.

Al Khelaifi, who is also president of French champions Paris Saint-Germain and sits on the executive committee of European football body Uefa, is accused of inciting Valcke not to tell Fifa about favours he received from him to buy a €7 million-euro villa in Sardinia.

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The issue is whether the 46-year-old, a former Davis Cup tennis player for Qatar, directly helped Valcke to buy the villa and use it for free, given that beIN Media was the sole bidder for the Middle Eastern media rights to the 2026 and 2030 World Cups.

In a separate case, Greek businessman Dinos Deris is accused of giving Valcke more than $1.5 million (Dh5.51m) in bribes.

Deris is charged with bribery for €1.25 million he allegedly paid Valcke in exchange for favourable treatment of his bid for Greek and Italian media rights for 12 years of football tournaments.

Valcke denies he took bribes and claims the marketing executive was helping him pay $11 mmillion of personal debt.

The trial is the first in Switzerland to shed light on Valcke and other senior FIFA officials striking deals for media rights to football tournaments around the world that earn Fifa hundreds of millions of dollars.

The duo deny the charges and the trial continues.

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