PSG president, former FIFA chief charged over World Cup bribery

Paris Saint-Germain chairman and CEO Nasser Al-Khelaifi has been charged in connection with the award of media rights to various World Cup and Confederations Cup tournaments, the Swiss Attorney-General's office (OAG) said on Thursday.

The OAG also said ex-FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke has been charged with accepting bribes, several counts of aggravated criminal mismanagement and falsification of documents.

Al-Khelaifi, a UEFA executive committee member, was charged in his role as beIN Media Group president, with inciting Valcke to commit aggravated criminal mismanagement, along with a businessman in the sports rights sector (third party).

The OAG statement said that the facts alleged in the indictment are no longer characterised as fraud, and that Valcke received "undue advantages" from Al-Khelaifi and the third party in the form of three payments totalling around €1.25 million and exclusive access to a Sardinian villa rent-free.

Valcke did not report the advantages to FIFA, which he was required to do as Secretary General, and falsified the 2013 and 2014 balance sheets of Valcke's company Sportunited LLC based on those payments.

The paying and accepting of bribes are based on allegations that Valcke exploited his FIFA position to influence Italy and Greece's World Cup and Confederations Cup media rights and accepted €1.25m from the third party.

The OAG added that suspicions Valcke had accepted a luxury watch from Al-Khelaifi in exchange for his influence were unfounded and related proceedings on that matter have now been abandoned.

The proceedings, which opened in March 2017, have been partially abandoned after FIFA informed the OAG at the end of January that it had reached an "amicable agreement" with Al-Khelaifi and partially with Valcke.

Al-Khelaifi: "After an exhaustive three-year investigation, where I have fully and openly cooperated with the Public Prosecutor in Switzerland, I am pleased that all charges of bribery in connection with the 2026 and 2030 World Cups have been dropped.

"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," Al-Khelaifi said in a statement.

"After the 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."

Information from Reuters was used in this report