Swiss authorities open proceedings against PSG chief over World Cup rights

Swiss open criminal case against ex-FIFA official Valcke, beIN CEO

Swiss open criminal case against ex-FIFA official Valcke, beIN CEO

Paris Saint-Germain's Qatari chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi has been accused by Swiss prosecutors of bribing a former Federation Internationale de Football Association official for World Cup TV rights.

Swiss prosecutors have opened a criminal proceeding against former FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke and Qatar's beIN Media Chief Executive Nasser Al-Khelaifi, the latest escalation in their ongoing investigation into corruption in soccer.

The case involves the award of broadcast rights for the next four World Cups from 2018 through 2030.

The investigation into Al-Khelaifi was reportedly opened in March 2017 and is being conducted in partnership with French, Greek, Italian and Spanish authorities.

The French financial prosecutor's office issued a statement on Thursday saying that two of its representatives, along with other French officials dealing with anti-corruption and tax avoidance affairs, had carried out the search.

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Valcke - who was interviewed on Thursday - is now in the process of appealing against his 10-year ban from football at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

"Multiple premises were searched, assets were seized and interviews were conducted as a result of this joint operation", the European Union body known as Eurojust said in a statement.

An unnamed figure in the sports rights business is also accused of having bribed Valcke in connection with the award of media rights for the 2018 World Cup in Russian Federation, 2022 in Qatar, and the 2026 and 2030 tournaments.

Al-Khelaifi and Valcke previously worked on a deal for the 2018 and 2022 rights weeks after Qatar won the 2022 hosting vote.

BeIN Sports, whose offices in France were raided by investigators on Thursday morning said it "refutes all accusations" made by the attorney general.

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Al Khelaifi's profile has risen in recent weeks as PSG pursued and sealed a world record transfer of Brazil forward Neymar from Barcelona for £198m.

After PSG's offseason spree signed off by Al-Khelaifi, European soccer body UEFA opened its own case into possible violation of soccer-specific rules created to curb excessive spending by clubs on transfer fees and wages.

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

On Wednesday, Valcke said his reputation had been destroyed by his ten-year ban from football as he appeared before a hearing to overturn the punishment at sport's highest appeal court, the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne. "The operation is led by Swiss authorities".

The probe extends scrutiny of world soccer, has been in turmoil since USA prosecutors said in 2015 that soccer officials had taken nearly $200 million in bribes from sports-marketing executives in the Americas seeking media and marketing rights to tournaments.

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