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PSG president Al-Khelaifi acquitted in Fifa media rights investigation

Ex-Fifa secretary general Jerome Valcke was also cleared of the same charge but in a separate case was found guilty of accepting bribes and forging documents.

In Summary

• The charges related to World Cup TV rights at a time when Valcke was general secretary of football’s world governing body.

• Al-Khelaifi, also chairman of the European Club Association and a member of Uefa’s executive committee, was acquitted of inciting Valcke to commit aggravated criminal mismanagement and the appeals court backed that decision in a written judgement published on Friday.

Paris St Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi with striker Kylian Mbappe
Paris St Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi with striker Kylian Mbappe
Image: FILE

Paris St-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi has been cleared of corruption by a Swiss appeals court.

Ex-Fifa secretary general Jerome Valcke was also cleared of the same charge but in a separate case was found guilty of accepting bribes and forging documents.

Valcke, 61, was given an 11-month prison sentence and a fine of 20,000 Swiss francs (£17,000), both suspended.

Swiss prosecutors were appealing a ruling from October 2020 by the Swiss Federal Criminal Court.

The charges related to World Cup TV rights at a time when Valcke was general secretary of football’s world governing body.

Al-Khelaifi, also chairman of the European Club Association and a member of Uefa’s executive committee, was acquitted of inciting Valcke to commit aggravated criminal mismanagement and the appeals court backed that decision in a written judgement published on Friday.

At a hearing in March, prosecutors claimed Valcke accepted rent-free accommodation in an Italian villa bought by Al-Khelaifi, who is chairman of the BeIN media group, in exchange for TV rights.

Al-Khelaifi, 48, denied he had struck a “corrupt arrangement” with Valcke, testifying: “That is totally wrong. It’s a false accusation.”

The appeal court agreed Valcke had received “undue advantages” from Al-Khelaifi but decided those advantages did not adversely impact Fifa financially, as it would not have been able to secure a better deal than the one it already had with BeIN.

Al-Khelaifi’s Swiss counsel Marc Bonnant said: “Today’s verdict is a total vindication. After a relentless six-year campaign by the prosecution — which ignored both the basic facts and the law at every turn — our client has, once again for a second time, been fully and completely cleared.

“The years of baseless allegations, fictitious charges and constant smears have been proven to be completely and wholly unsubstantiated - twice.”

Valcke, who held his role at Fifa from 2007-2015 and is currently serving a 10-year ban from football, was similarly acquitted of aggravated dishonest management. But he was found guilty of forging documents and the multiple taking of bribes over Italian and Greek media rights.