The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) of Switzerland has opened a criminal proceeding against Jérôme Valcke, former secretary general of FIFA, and against Nasser Al-Khelaifi, chief executive officer of the beIN Media Group, in connection with the award of World Cup media rights.
Criminal proceedings were opened on March 20 against Valcke, Al-Khelaifi and a businessman in the sports rights sector on suspicion of bribery of private individuals, fraud, criminal mismanagement and forgery of a document, the OAG said on Thursdayexternal link.
It is suspected that Valcke accepted “undue advantages” from a businessman in the sports rights sector in connection with the award of media rights for certain countries at the FIFA World Cups in 2018, 2022, 2026 and 2030 and from Al-Khelaifi in connection with the award of media rights for certain countries at the FIFA World Cups in 2026 and 2030.
Zurich-based FIFA is world football’s governing body.
As it announced in March 2016external link, the OAG is already conducting a proceeding against Valcke, in particular on suspicion of various acts of criminal mismanagement. That proceeding is still ongoing. The new proceeding has been opened primarily on the basis of findings obtained by the OAG in this earlier proceeding.
As part of the latest investigation, the OAG on Thursday interviewed Valcke in Switzerland as a suspect.
At the same time, in cooperation with authorities in France, Greece, Italy and Spain, properties were searched in various locations. In terms of the request for mutual legal assistance, the OAG was in attendance when these procedures took place.
On Friday, FIFA's ethics commission announced that it had opened its own, preliminary investigation into Al-Khelaifi.
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 Frenchman, whose job was to ensure the smooth running of FIFA, and in particular the World Cup, was the right-hand man to now banned president Sepp Blatter before both were embroiled in a corruption scandal which swept FIFA in 2015.
Valcke was found guilty by FIFA’s former ethics judge Hans-Joachim Eckert of misconduct over the sale of World Cup tickets, abuse of travel expenses, attempting to sell television rights below their market value and destruction of evidence.
After being sacked from his post in January 2016, he was initially banned for 12 years, which was reduced to ten by FIFA’s own appeal committee last June. He has denied wrongdoing and is now appealing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
swissinfo.ch and agencies/ts