Al-Khelafi acquitted again, Valcke guilty in FIFA re-trial

GENEVA ( Associated Press) – Paris Saint-Germain President Nasser al-Khelafi was acquitted in Switzerland for the second time on Friday in a case of alleged wrongdoing involving former FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke.

Al-Khalafi was again cleared of charges of abetment to criminal mismanagement for allowing Valcke to use a holiday home in Sardinia. The house was bought by a Qatari company in 2013.

Valcke, who was FIFA’s top administrator for eight years until his removal in 2015, was indicted on separate charges that did not involve al-Khelafi. They are related to taking bribes in negotiations for World Cup broadcast rights in Italy and Greece.

The Swiss Federal Criminal Court found Valcke repeatedly guilty of forgery and passive corruption. He was given an 11-month-long suspended sentence instead of three, compared to the one received after the original trial in September 2020.

A third defendant, Greek marketing executive Dinos Deris, was convicted of active corruption and given a suspended 10-month sentence after being acquitted for the first time in 2020. The sentences of both men were suspended for a probation period of two years.

The trial was held again in March in Swiss federal criminal court after prosecutors appealed against the original rulings.

Al-Khelafi’s second acquittal was welcomed by his legal team as “complete vengeance”.

“Years of baseless allegations, fictitious allegations and persistent smears have proven to be completely and utterly baseless — twice,” attorney Mark Bonnant said in a statement.

During a five-year investigation, al-Khelafi, head of Qatari broadcaster beIN Media Group and a member of the government of the World Cup host country, rose to power and position in European football.

Despite being a suspect in Swiss criminal proceedings, al-Khelafi was selected to join the UEFA executive committee in 2019 and is now part of the influential European Club Association after PSG refused to join the failed Super League project last year. Leads.

The prosecution case against Al-Khelafi focused on the renewal of World Cup rights with FIFA in the Middle East and North Africa, at which time the Italian villa was bought.

Al-Khelafi’s lawyers argued that BeIN’s deal for the 2026 and 2030 World Cups, totaling $480 million in court, was good for FIFA.

Using the vacation home frequently from 2013 to 2015, Valcke also oversaw FIFA-led talks to move the 2022 World Cup in Qatar from June and July to the colder months of November and December. FIFA was also waiting, then to deal with its fallout, its ethics committee investigation into the 2018–2022 World Cup bidding competition.

The charges against Valcke related to the filing of three payments totaling 1.25 million euros ($1.45 million) as loans to the accounts of his private company.

Valcke’s sentence was announced the same week that former FIFA president Sepp Blatter was on trial in the same Bellinzona courthouse in a separate case. Blatter and former UEFA president Michel Platini faced charges of fraud, forgery and financial misconduct.

The verdict in that case is due on July 8. Which is related to a Blatter-approved FIFA payment of 2 million Swiss francs ($2 million) to Platini in 2011.

Valcke remains a suspect in a separate Swiss criminal proceeding involving Blatter and former FIFA finance director Marcus Kattner, in that case a $1 million FIFA payment to the Trinidad and Tobago Soccer Federation in 2010.

Al-Khelafi is also being investigated by financial prosecutors in Paris. For payments involving Qatari bids to host the Track and Field World Championships, which were staged in Doha in 2019.

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