mcloudyn.png
Tuesday September 22nd, 2020 4:04AM

Swiss court puts Qatari on trial in soccer case next week

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

GENEVA (AP) — In Switzerland’s federal criminal court on Monday, Nasser al-Khelaifi will become the first Qatari to stand trial almost six years after FIFA asked prosecutors to investigate the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding contests.

Al-Khelaifi, the president of Champions League finalist Paris Saint-Germain and chairman of Qatar-owned broadcaster beIN Media Group, is charged with inciting a former top FIFA official to commit “aggravated criminal mismanagement.”

Prosecutors have implicated al-Khelaifi in providing exclusive use of a luxury villa on the Italian island of Sardinia to the official — former FIFA secretary general Jérôme Valcke.

The 46-year-old al-Khelaifi has been the focus of a broader case opened in 2017 even if the most serious charges are faced separately by the other two defendants in a trial slated to last two weeks in Bellinzona.

Valcke and marketing agency executive Dinos Deris are implicated in bribery linked to World Cup broadcast rights deals for Greece and Italy that did not involve the Qatari or beIN.

“The vast majority of this case does not relate to our client in any way,” al-Khelaifi’s team of lawyers from Switzerland and England said in a statement.

The trial opens just three weeks after al-Khelaifi was seen by a global TV audience on the field at the Champions League final in Lisbon for the trophy and medals ceremony. He was consoling PSG’s players after their 1-0 loss to Bayern Munich.

Al-Khelaifi is widely seen as representing the Qatari state. The former tennis professional is a close friend of the Emir, a minister without portfolio in the national government, and visible sign of the 2022 World Cup host nation’s influence on European soccer.

On Sept. 24, during the scheduled second week in court, al-Khelaifi would have been due to attend a meeting of European soccer body UEFA’s executive committee in Budapest, Hungary. He was chosen by European clubs and accepted by UEFA last year while still a suspect for bribery.

Federal prosecutors originally linked the purchase of an $8 million villa in Porto Cervo, and Valcke’s use of it until he was suspended in 2015, to beIN and FIFA sealing a World Cup rights deal without rival bids.

The Doha-based broadcaster renewed its Middle East and North Africa rights for two more tournaments in 2026 and 2030. In the soccer and TV industry, it was seen as a good deal for FIFA with beIN paying above the then-market value.

The bribery allegation against al-Khelaifi ended when FIFA withdrew its formal criminal complaint in January as part of a seven-figure financial settlement.

Announcing indictments in February, Swiss prosecutors called that “an unspecified ‘amicable agreement’” and instead imposed the incitement charge. That related to Valcke unlawfully enriching himself and not reporting it to FIFA, prosecutors said.

Al-Khelaifi’s lawyers said Friday the lesser charge is “manifestly artificial and lacks basis in law or fact. We have no doubt that our client will be proven innocent.”

A verdict from the three federal judges is expected late October.

The trial has arisen from Swiss prosecutors having access to FIFA business and staff correspondence since being i nvited in by soccer’s world body in November 2014.

Valcke was suspended from duty in 2015 and later banned by FIFA’s ethics committee. He is serving a 10-year ban for conduct not connected to the upcoming trial.

He is charged with bribery -- allegedly taking three kickbacks totaling 1.25 million euros ($1.48 million) to steer World Cup rights toward favored broadcasters in Italy and Greece -- and falsification of documents, for booking payments to his private company as loans.

The French former television presenter, who hosted FIFA’s glitzy World Cup draw shows and coordinated organizing the 2010 and 2014 tournaments, declined to comment on the trial to The Associated Press.

Deris, also known as Konstantinos Nteris, did not respond to a request for comment at his agency in Athens.

The original target for Swiss investigators was money laundering and suspicious cash transfers during bidding contests for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. Russia and Qatar were picked in December 2010 by a FIFA executive committee that was later widely discredited.

None of the FIFA voters from 10 years ago has been charged in Switzerland — German soccer great Franz Beckenbauer was not indicted for health reasons ahead of a trial that collapsed in April.

That case, into a suspect payment trail linking German organizers of the 2006 World Cup, FIFA and other soccer industry officials, failed partly because of problems holding a trial so close to northern Italy during the coronavirus pandemic.

Still, Swiss prosecutors were criticized for waiting so long to bring the case that a statute of limitations for evidence expired.

For Monday’s trial opening, the three defendants -- who live in Qatar, Spain and Greece -- are expected to be exempt from travel and quarantine limitations.

___

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Entertainment, AP Online TV News, AP Business, AP Business - Corporate News
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
The Latest: Men's singles semis, women's doubles at US Open
The men’s semifinal matches will be played after the women’s doubles championship is awarded at the U.S. Open
12:33PM ( 22 minutes ago )
Swiss court puts Qatari on trial in soccer case next week
A criminal trial opens Monday in the Swiss investigation of FIFA and international soccer officials
12:31PM ( 25 minutes ago )
Thousands protest after Greek refugee camp burns down
Thousands of refugees and migrants left without shelter on the Greek island of Lesbos after fires destroyed the notoriously overcrowded Moria camp have held a brief protest demanding to be allowed to leave
12:25PM ( 31 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Roglic imperial on Tour de France Stage 13 won by Martinez
The slow-burning fight for the Tour de France’s yellow jersey has erupted in earnest on the slopes of a once-giant volcano, where race leader Primoz Roglic used the punishing slopes to grow his overall lead
11:28AM ( 1 hour ago )
Martinez wins Tour de France Stage 13
Colombian rider Daniel Martinez has won the intense Stage 13 of the Tour de France, grinding up the steep slopes of the remains of a giant volcano
11:08AM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: England, Wales set to launch virus tracing app
An app to help to contain the spread of the coronavirus will finally be launched in England and Wales on Sept. 24, months later than the British government had hoped
7:26AM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Sports
2 ex-child welfare workers face charges in slain boy case
Two former Illinois child welfare workers who investigated abuse allegations involving a 5-year-old boy allegedly killed months later by his parents have been charged with child endangerment
11:35AM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Relatives, Trump, Biden gather to mark 9/11
Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said it’s “disgraceful” that the official 9/11 commemoration event features only prerecorded name readings
11:31AM ( 1 hour ago )
Rights group asserts 'Hotel Rwanda' hero was forcibly taken
The man who inspired the film “Hotel Rwanda” for saving people from genocide and is now accused of terrorism in Rwanda has spoken to his family for the first time since being paraded in handcuffs on Aug. 31
8:56AM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Entertainment
'Avengers' and 'Game of Thrones' star Diana Rigg dies at 82
British actress Diana Rigg, who became a 1960s style icon as secret agent Emma Peel in TV series “The Avengers,” has died
4:25PM ( 20 hours ago )
Virus delays filming of 2 seasons of 'Atlanta' until 2021
Production finally will get underway on the FX series “Atlanta” next year
7:33PM ( 1 day ago )
'Keeping Up With the Kardashians' will end in 2021
Who do we keep up with now
7:16AM ( 2 days ago )
AP Online TV News
Virus spikes in UK, new restrictions in Birmingham, England
Households in England’s second-largest city, Birmingham, are being urged to stop socializing with others from Friday as part of a dramatic tightening of coronavirus restrictions in the wake of a sharp spike in new confirmed cases
11:31AM ( 1 hour ago )
Poll: Pandemic takes toll on mental health of young adults
A new poll has found that the coronavirus pandemic has taken a harsh toll on the mental health of young adults in the United States
10:59AM ( 1 hour ago )
US stocks struggle higher as tumultuous week comes to close
Stocks are trying for another comeback on Wall Street Friday, as a tumultuous week of big swings comes to a close
10:58AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Business
Drone maker hurt by US-China rift, opening door to US rivals
U.S. national security concerns about the world’s dominant consumer drone-maker, China-based DJI, have upended the market for small drones
10:13AM ( 2 hours ago )
China becoming battleground for plant-based meat makers
China has become a battleground for plant-based meat companies looking to tap into the world’s largest market for meat-consumption
12:14AM ( 12 hours ago )
Las Vegas shooting victims closer to getting $800M payout
More than 4,400 relatives and victims of the deadliest mass shooting in recent U.S. history could receive a total of $800 million in payouts from MGM Resorts International and its insurers by January
9:14PM ( 15 hours ago )
AP Business - Corporate News
The Latest: Men's singles semis, women's doubles at US Open
The men’s semifinal matches will be played after the women’s doubles championship is awarded at the U.S. Open
12:33PM ( 22 minutes ago )
Thousands protest after Greek refugee camp burns down
Thousands of refugees and migrants left without shelter on the Greek island of Lesbos after fires destroyed the notoriously overcrowded Moria camp have held a brief protest demanding to be allowed to leave
12:25PM ( 31 minutes ago )
Trump bestowing Medal of Honor on soldier for hostage rescue
President Donald Trump is bestowing the Medal of Honor on a U.S. soldier for his role in a daring 2015 mission to rescue dozens of hostages set to be executed by Islamic State militants in Iraq
12:24PM ( 31 minutes ago )
Trump, Biden marking 9/11 with very different tones
One spent time quietly consoling families
12:24PM ( 32 minutes ago )
Assange court case to resume after COVID-19 false alarm
WikiLeaks says the London court hearing on founder Julian Assange’s extradition from Britain to the United States is set to resume after a COVID-19 test on one of the participating lawyers came back negative
12:12PM ( 44 minutes ago )