Ex-FIFA secretary general, BeIN sports chairman go on trial over TV rights

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Bellinzona (Switzerland), Sept. 14, 2020 (Reuters/Naija247news) Former FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke and the chairman of Qatar-based media group BeIN Sports, Nasser Al-Khelaifi, went on trial in Switzerland on Monday.

Both men were docked over the award of television rights for the World Cup and Confederations Cup.

The 59-year-old Valcke, already banned by FIFA’s ethics committee for 10 years for ethics violations, has been charged with accepting bribes, aggravated criminal mismanagement and falsification of documents.

Al-Khelaifi, who is also president of French champions Paris St-Germain (PSG) and a former Davis Cup tennis player for Qatar, has been charged with inciting Valcke to commit aggravated criminal mismanagement.

The 46-year-old Al-Khelaifi, who also sits on the executive committee of European football body UEFA, is regarded as one of the most powerful men in European football.

Both men, who were present in court, deny wrongdoing and Al-Khelaifi’s lawyers have said that the majority of the case does not apply to their client.

The trial in Switzerland, which is where FIFA is based, is expected to last until Sept. 25.

The three federal judges are expected to deliver a verdict by the end of October.

The Swiss attorney general’s office has alleged that between 2013 and 2015 Valcke exploited his FIFA role to influence some deals “to favour media partners that he preferred”.

This is the award of media rights for various World Cup and Confederations Cup tournaments.

Valcke also received exclusive use of a villa belonging to Al-Khelaifi in Sardinia for 18 months, it said.

He made use of the property without having to pay a rent estimated at between 900,000 euros (1.07 million dollars) and 1.8 million euros (2.13 million dollars).

Valcke, 59, was secretary general of world football’s ruling body for eight years until 2015, overseeing the organisation of the World Cup in South Africa in 2010 and Brazil in 2014.

Swiss prosecutors have been investigating corruption surrounding FIFA since 2015, when the global football body became embroiled in the worst corruption scandal in its history.

The scandal led to its President Sepp Blatter and UEFA President Michel Platini being banned from the sport, while several dozen officials were indicted in the U.S. on corruption-related charges.

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