PSG president acquitted in new trial

Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser al-Khelaïfi was acquitted on Friday in Switzerland for the second time in a new trial for alleged wrongdoing linked to former FIFA secretary general Jérôme Valcke.

Al-Khelaïfi was acquitted again of a charge of incitement to commit the aggravated crime of mismanagement for allowing Valcke to use a holiday home in Sardinia without paying rent. Prosecutors tried to link the house, bought by a Qatari company in 2013, to the Al-Khelaïfi-run broadcaster beIN Media Group, which won a renewed FIFA World Cup rights deal. Valcke, who was FIFA’s top administrator for eight years until his ouster in 2015, was again acquitted of mismanagement and convicted on separate charges not involving Al-Khelaïfi. They relate to receiving bribes in negotiations for World Cup broadcast rights in Italy and Greece. The Swiss federal criminal court found Valcke guilty of repeated forgery and passive corruption. He was given a longer suspended sentence – 11 months instead of three – than the one he received after the original trial in September 2020. Valcke’s lawyers announced in a statement that they will appeal the ruling and that “the guilty verdict, for Therefore, it is not definitive. A third defendant, Greek marketing executive Dinos Deris, was convicted of active corruption and given a 10-month suspended sentence after being acquitted for the first time in 2020. He was again acquitted of inciting Valcke to mismanage against the interests of FIFA. Valcke and Deris’ sentences were suspended for two-year probationary periods. The new trial took place in March in Switzerland’s federal criminal court after prosecutors appealed the original verdicts. Al-Khelaïfi’s second acquittal was hailed by his legal team as a “total vindication.” “Years of baseless accusations, trumped-up charges and constant slander have been proven to be baseless — twice,” attorney Marc Bonnant said in a statement. During a five-year investigation, Al-Khelaïfi, who is also a member of the government of the World Cup host nation, rose in power and status in European football. Despite being a suspect in Swiss criminal proceedings, Al-Khelaïfi was chosen in 2019 to join UEFA’s executive committee and now heads the influential European Club Association after PSG refused to join the failed Super League project last year. . The prosecution case against Al-Khelaïfi focused on beIN’s renewal of World Cup rights in the Middle East and North Africa with FIFA during the period in which the Italian villa was purchased. Al-Khelaïfi’s lawyers argued that beIN’s deal for the 2026 and 2030 World Cups, which was estimated in court to be worth a total of $480 million, was good for FIFA.

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