Swiss prosecutors have opened a criminal corruption probe targeting Paris Saint-Germain chairman Nasser al-Khelaifi and disgraced former FIFA executive Jerome Valcke over the sale of media rights for upcoming World Cups.
The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) said the probe opened in March and centers on allegations including bribery, fraud, criminal mismanagement and forgery.
Prosecutors indicated that al-Khelaifi, a powerful Qatari sports executive who is also head of bein Media Group, was under suspicion only for actions taken as the head of the sports media group, which operates on five continents.
The Qatari broadcaster issued a statement denying any wrongdoing while confirming French authorities had raided the company’s Paris offices following a Swiss request.
“Bein Media Group refutes all accusations made by [the] OAG. The company will fully cooperate with the authorities and is confident as to the future developments of this investigation,” it said in a statement.
PSG, which grabbed headlines in August for its record signing of Brazilian superstar Neymar, is not implicated in the investigation.
Valcke, who was Sepp Blatter’s right-hand man at FIFA, yesterday denied the allegations in an interview with French sports newspaper L’Equipe.
“They say there have been payments from Nasser to me in return for the sale of rights at a preferential rate, but I’ve received nothing from Nasser,” he told the newspaper. “There has never been an exchange between Nasser and me. Never.”
Valcke left the Swiss attorney general’s office on Thursday evening after being interviewed as a suspect and “disputes all the allegations,” his lawyer Stephane Ceccaldi said.
“He came out free, there is no coercive measure against him nor any bail payment,” Ceccaldi said.
The OAG said there was a third suspect in the case, but identified him only as “a businessman in the sports rights sector.”
Prosecutors said they had evidence indicating that Valcke “accepted undue advantages” from the businessman “in connection with the award of media rights for certain countries at the FIFA World Cups in 2018, 2022, 2026 and 2030.”
KEY GOAL: Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei is now free to focus on taking her fourth doubles title of the year with Barbora Strycova; they are due to face Nao Hibino and Makoto Ninomiya Taiwanese No. 1 Hsieh Su-wei on Monday returned to the court for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the WTA Tour, falling to a 6-3, 6-1 defeat to US Open quarter-finalist Elise Mertens, who made a solid transition from the hard courts in New York to the clay at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. “I’m not sure how well I adapted, to be honest,” Mertens told the WTA Web site. “I just feel like I might still be struggling a little. It was also [Hsieh’s] first match of the week, so that was a bit of an
‘GREAT EVENING‘: In the women’s singles in Rome, Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova advanced, while Rafael Nadal swept into the quarters in the men’s singles Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Friday had to dig deep to advance to the semi-finals of the women’s doubles at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. The top seeds, who did not drop a game in their opening match on the clay courts at the Foro Italico, battled to a 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 victory over sixth seeds Veronika Kudermetova and Katerina Siniakova in 1 hour, 39 minutes. The reigning Wimbledon champions saved nine of 11 break points and converted three of eight, winning 56 percent of points on their second serve and sending down two aces
‘FUN TIME’: Denver’s Nikola Jokic said that his team would not accept that anyone else is better than them and the opposition need to play much better than they do Just about everyone had LA versus LA written in for the NBA’s Western Conference finals, but the resilient Denver Nuggets have crashed the party. Behind Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic, the Nuggets advanced to the conference finals for the first time since 2009 to face LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. Game 1 is scheduled to be played tomorrow. This was no ordinary road. The Nuggets fell behind 3-1 in their first-round series against the Utah Jazz before bouncing back with three straight victories. Then they went down 3-1 to the Los Angeles Clippers in the second round before winning in Game 7
WNBA star Maya Moore has married the man that she helped free from prison. Moore was in the prime of her playing days when she paused her basketball career at the age of 30 in February last year to work on the campaign to free Jonathan Irons. Irons, who is 40, had been serving a 50-year prison sentence over the shooting of a homeowner during a robbery when Irons was 16. A judge ruled in March that prosecutors had suppressed fingerprint evidence that could have helped prevent Irons from being found guilty — and he was freed from prison in July. “We wanted to