Swiss Authorities Allege PSG's Khelaifi Offered Former FIFA Exec Use Of Villa
A Sardinian villa valued at €7M ($8.3M) was allegedly what Paris St. Germain Chair Nasser al-Khelaifi used to bribe a top FIFA official, according to the AP. Italian police said on Friday that they "seized the luxury property" they claim Khelaifi made available to former FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke. Details of the alleged corruption were revealed one day after Swiss federal prosecutors "oversaw evidence-gathering raids in four European countries for a widening investigation" of FIFA and the '18-22 World Cup bidding contests won by Russia and Qatar. Criminal proceedings have been opened against al-Khelaifi and Valcke "for suspected bribery and forgery linked to awarding broadcast rights for the next four World Cups." Al-Khelaifi is CEO of the Qatar-owned beIN Media Group, which has World Cup rights across the Middle East through '30, including the '22 tournament in Qatar. Italy's finance police said in a statement that the villa in Porto Cervo was owned by an int'l real estate company and eight people were questioned. A police video showed a sequestration order on the villa's gate. Investigators believe the property was for the use of Valcke (AP, 10/13). L’ÉQUIPE reported Valcke said, "I have received nothing from Nasser." Suspected of receiving "undue advantages," the Frenchman was released after questioning in Switzerland and has "refuted all accusations" (L’ÉQUIPE, 10/13). L’ÉQUIPE also reported al-Khelaifi "wants to explain himself to the Swiss magistrates as soon as possible." His lawyers are expected to request an appointment with the officials this week. By the end of the month, al-Khelaifi "could be heard by the Swiss authorities." In his defense, a beIN Media Group spokesperson said that "the financials (of the beIN Media contract) were as advantageous as possible for FIFA." The company added, without providing numbers, that the amount beIN paid for the 2026 and 2030 World Cup rights in Middle East and North Africa was "higher than previous deals." The spokesperson also said that to obtain these rights "there was no competition," and therefore no tender launched (L’ÉQUIPE, 10/15).