Paris Saint-Germain president and UEFA executive committee member, Nasser Al-Khelaifi, has been charged by the office of the Swiss attorney general for financial crimes in connection with the award of media rights to various World Cup and FIFA Confederations Cup tournaments.
Former FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke, has been charged with accepting bribes, several counts of aggravated criminal mismanagement and falsification of documents in the same case.
Al-Khelaifi and another individual were charged with inciting Valcke to commit the aggravated criminal mismanagement. But the PSG boss no longer faces an accusation of bribery.
The PSG president is a major executive at beIN Media group, a broadcast company that is the biggest buyer of UEFA’s television rights.
He also sits on the UEFA executive committee, the organisation’s supreme executive body representing European clubs.
Breaking: The Swiss authorities criminally charge former @FIFAcom Secretary-General Jerome Valcke and @PSG_English boss/ @UEFA exco member Nasser Al-Khelaifi. The statement from the authorities is below… pic.twitter.com/nNxM8TpE51
Responding to the charge yesterday, Al-Khelaifi hit out at leaks, misinformation, a media agenda and materials that had been faked, fabricated, or illegally sourced.
“After an exhaustive three-year investigation, where I have fully and openly cooperated with the Public Prosecutor in Switzerland, I am pleased that all charge of bribery in connection with the 2026 and 2030 World Cups have been dropped,” his statement read.
“As I have said vehemently and repeatedly for three years, the charges have not – and have never had – any basis whatsoever, either in fact or law. It is now – finally – indisputable fact that the 2026 and 2030 agreements were negotiated at arms-lengths [sic] and without any improper influence in any form.
“After the most forensic public, private, lawful and unlawful scrutiny of all my dealings, I have been cleared of all suspicions of bribery and the case has been dismissed definitively and conclusively. While a secondary technical charge remains outstanding, I have every expectation that this will be proven completely groundless and without any substance whatsoever, in the same way as the primary case.
“While I have cooperated with all authorities during the legal process, the three year investigation has been characterized by constant leaks, misinformation and a seemingly relentless agenda to smear my reputation in the media – completely irrespective of the facts and the notion of due process.
“For that reason, I have requested the relevant Swiss authorities to open a criminal enquiry into the conduct of the investigation. I also reserve the right to take action against certain media who for three years have repeatedly published factually-unsupported and highly damaging articles, often based on illegally-sourced and – quite remarkably in some cases – faked and fabricated materials, to satisfy their narrative of my supposed guilt.”
S’Eagles’ Coach Held Up In France
Nigerian’s national team manager, Gernot Rohr will be unable to return to the country in the near future, leading to the suspension of proposed Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) events.
Rohr will have to remain in France, where he is currently situated, due to travel restrictions imposed as part of the efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The German coach was scheduled to return to Nigeria to participate in a series of programmes set up by the NFF, but this has obviously been scrapped in the wake of the virus pandemic.
Rohr has been in contact with his players via online mediums, and will travel to Nigeria as soon as logistically possible.
“Rohr was supposed to be part of some programmes organised by NFF sponsors, but that is no longer possible because he cannot come into the country as things are now,” NFF media officer Toyin Ibitoye told newsmen.
“The restriction on social gatherings and embargo on flights have forced the organisers of these events to suspend them pending when things will return to normal.
“Aside from the programmes, Rohr was also scheduled to meet with the Federation to plan for the African Nations Cup and World Cup qualifiers, among other issues, but these have also been put on hold.”
Ibitoye added, “Rohr has been monitoring the players’ training as directed by their various clubs because these programmes will also keep the players fit for Nigeria whenever the qualifiers resume.
“He talks with the players often and knows the physical state even though they are all working from home.”
Meetings Underway To Decide Wimbledon’s Fate
A series of emergency meetings is under way to decide whether Wimbledon can go ahead this year.
The All England Club says a final decision is yet to be made, but the cancellation of the Championships for the first time since World War Two now seems inevitable.
The Wimbledon Championships are due to run for two weeks from Monday 29 June.
The French Open has already been pushed back four months to late September because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I guess everyone’s been waiting on it,” Britain’s seven time Grand Slam doubles champion Jamie Murray told Tidesports source.
“It’s obviously the next big event in the tennis calendar that’s still on the calendar for the moment.”
Our source understands a decision to abandon this year’s grass court season is likely be made in conjunction with three governing bodies – the Lawn Tennis Association, the Association of Tennis Professionals and the Women’s Tennis Association – within the next 48 hours.
The All England Club admitted last week that a postponement would not be “without significant risk and difficulty,” and Murray says there are many practical reasons for that.
“I think for them, it’s difficult to move the tournament back because you’re running into other tournaments that are for the moment still on the schedule,” he explained.
“And also just things like daylight to host the event. Each week that passes, you get less and less light to play the tournament. And obviously they play until nine and 10 o’clock each night at Wimbledon.”
The All England Club is confident it will be able to refund ticket and debenture holders through the insurance policies it has in place.
But tennis will be denied its annual chance to showcase the sport in the UK, and to encourage people to take to the courts.
The preceding grass court tournaments in Nottingham, Birmingham, Eastbourne and at Queen’s Club in London will also be affected.
There is likely to be no professional tennis played anywhere until at least 13 July, which leaves players like Murray in the same boat as everyone else.
“I’m just at home, taking the necessary precautions, and trying to stay as active as I can,” the Scot continued.
“It’s different. We’re used to being on the road all the time, used to being in different cities every week, and you kind of become institutionalised to that.
“So even when I’m at events, come Friday, Saturday, when you’re starting to play for big prizes, your mind’s kind of like, ready to go to the next event because that’s just what you’ve been programmed to do.”
Premier League, Others Discuss Wage Deferral
Premier League and English Football League clubs are set to discuss a collective wage deferral agreement at a meeting with the Professional Footballers’ Association today.
The proposal is one option to help clubs facing financial struggles during the coronavirus crisis.
It is also understood the PFA will ask clubs if wage deferrals are justified.
Professional football in England has been suspended until 30 April at the earliest because of the pandemic.
It is widely accepted that a return is likely to come at a later date.
The Premier League and English Football League (EFL) are both committed to finishing the season but have said they will resume “only when it is safe and conditions allow”.
On 18 March, the EFL said it would release a £50m fund to help its clubs cover shortfalls this month. Today’s meeting will now focus on how to cover April’s costs without any football.
Premier League clubs are also conscious that not finishing the season could mean they owe broadcasters about £760m.
Talks will centre on whether clubs need to defer wages among players and if a collective agreement can be reached.
Players at Championship leaders Leeds United have already volunteered to take a wage deferral, while Birmingham City’s players who earn more than £6,000 a week have also been asked to take a 50% cut for the next four months.
But the PFA is urging other clubs to involve the union and for a collective approach to be taken.
There are also reservations from other clubs who feel they have been more careful with their finances and do not want to be forced into a generic agreement.
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