Swiss prosecutors request jail time for Al-Khelaifi and Valcke
Swiss prosecutors have called for Nasser Al-Khelaifi, the prominent Qatari sports and media executive, and Jérôme Valcke, the former secretary general of Fifa, to be jailed for corruption in the sale of media rights to major soccer competitions.
The prosecution said Al-Khelaifi (pictured), who is also president of French club Paris Saint-Germain, should get a 28-month sentence, while Valcke should get three years.
Both men deny the charges.
The trial in Bellinzona began on 14 September and is expected to close tomorrow.
It is the first time prison sentences have been requested in a European court in trials relating to the multiple scandals in world soccer, although former officials from the Americas have gone to jail in USA.
Al-Khelaifi is charged with inciting Valcke to commit "aggravated criminal mismanagement." Charges of bribery against him relating to BeIN’s big-money acquisition of media rights in the Middle East and North Africa to the 2026 and 2030 World Cups were dropped in February.Valcke, who is already serving a Fifa-imposed 10-year ban from soccer, is charged with accepting bribes, aggravated criminal mismanagement and falsification of documents.
The public prosecutor's office said Valcke sought the Qatari's help in the summer of 2003 to buy a luxury villa in Sardinia, at a time when BeIN was negotiating the extension of its media rights deal in MENA for the 2026 and 2030 World Cups.
The prosecutor said Al-Khelaifi acquired the villa for €5 million ($5.85 million), via a company that was transferred almost immediately to the brother of one of his close collaborators, before it was made available to Valcke.
The two men denied a "corrupt agreement" and said the deal was a "private" arrangement, unrelated to the contract concluded by BeIN with Fifa in April 2014 that has never been contested by the governing body.
The prosecution said Valcke committed to "do what was in his power" to ensure BeIN would win the contract and should have declared the villa deal to his employers. They said he had been pressured by Al-Khelaifi to illegally damage Fifa's interests.
Al-Khelaifi is accused of "contempt for justice" because he did not cooperate with the investigation, and denied buying the villa despite evidence of the purchase.
Valcke also stands accused of exploiting his position at Fifa between 2013 and 2015 to influence the awarding of media rights in Italy and Greece to World Cup and Confederations Cup tournaments between 2018 and 2030 "in order to favour media partners that he preferred" in exchange for payments from Dinos Deris, a Greek businessman in the sports sector, who is also on trial.
Al-Khelaifi's lawyers said in a statement: "The vast majority of this case does not relate to our client in any way. To the extent it does, we look forward to presenting to the court the simple facts – not least given this is the first time in nearly four years we’ve been properly afforded the right to any defence. As a reminder, despite the most forensic public, private, lawful and unlawful scrutiny and smears of our client since 2016, no charges have ever been proven; the main original charge of bribery was completely and conclusively dropped; and over recent months the prosecution team’s credibility has been seriously questioned. For the avoidance of any doubt, the recently-submitted secondary “reporting” charge is manifestly artificial and lacks basis in law or fact – we have no doubt that our client will be proven innocent.”