by Tony Attwood
The huge Fifa trial currently running is important, I believe, because the FA is a member of Fifa, and pays funds into Fifa. The FA gets its money from the government, which gets its money from the tax payers, like me. Mugs like me who live in England and pay their taxes on time every time. (I am starting to ask myself how dumb that is, as I follow this trial with its allegations of fraud and corruption).
As to why the media in Britain won’t cover it, I can only assume it is because they are desperate to have their people at the world cup and other events and fear that anyone who is covering the current story might be blocked from getting press tickets. If there is another reason, it would be good to hear it.
We are now in the third day of the trial in the Federal Criminal Court of Switzerland. The main evidence givers on this day were the former Fifa Secretary General Jérôme Valcke and the Paris-St-Germain President Nasser Al-Khelaifi.
Jérôme Valcke is accused of aggravated unfair management, false titles and passive corruption, while Nasser Al-Khelaifi is accused of instigating aggravated unfair management. The third defendant, a Greek businessman, did not appear. He is implicated in the nebula of scandals within Fifa concerning the allocation of TV rights to several World Cups and other competitions to media groups represented by Nasser Al-Khelaifi and the absent Greek businessman.
This is interesting because in 2015, the Greek government decided to introduce a new sports law in response to the recent scandal and acts of violence and corruption in Greek football. Gianni Infantino, as Uefa’s general secretary, led the negotiations with the Greek government and warned the Greece government that it faced suspension from international football for government interference.
That was a key moment in all this – the Greek government was trying to root out the corruption in Greek football, but Infantino warned the Greek government that if it continued “interfering” in Greek football, Greek football could be kicked out of Uefa. (How many !!! should I put after that sentence???) Untold did actually cover this at the time. Most “outlets” didn’t.
Now to understand what is going on here we must also note that aside from being President of Paris-St-Germain, Nasser Al-Khelaifi is also CEO of the Bein Media group.
You might want to recall we’ve hear much about Bein of late because they led the protests about the Saudis taking over Newcastle United, claiming that Saudi Arabia was engaged in copyright breaches – an argument that seemingly they won, with the League obediently following their line and kicking the Newcastle deal with Saudi Arabia out.
There has been some questioning as to why the League was so willing to accept evidence against Saudi Arabia in that case, without calling witnesses from Saudi Arabia and from BeOutQ, the accused TV channel. Now we might be finding out. If it turns out the League was misled by a bunch of crooks, they are going to have a lot of egg on their faces. Although the football going public in England might not be told, because… again the UK media is not covering this trial.
Anyway, back with the trial Nasser Al-Khelaifi (of Bein and PSG) claims that Fifa could not have concluded a more advantageous TV rights allocation contract than the one signed for 2014.
But that evidence needs to be balanced by the fact that the channel which won the rights was the one he owned. So that statement that “no channel could compete with Bein” gives an indication as to how their world view works. Of course no channel competes with Bein – they buy up all the rights. (Incidentally no wonder Newcastle are appealing against the decision not to allow Saudi interests to buy Newcastle – this case gives them so much ammunition).
Going on, Nasser Al-Khelaifi, (Bein and PSG) explained that his flight on 1 September 2013 with Jérôme Valcke was arranged to facilitate a meeting between the latter and the Emir of Qatar. He then claimed that there was no question then of the attribution of rights to Bein Media nor of the purchase of the Villa Bianca, a property that was apparently much coveted by the then deputy head of Fifa.
Nasser Al-Khelaifi then stated that he remembered Jérôme Valcke later speaking of this “sublime project” and asked if Nasser Al-Khelaifi was interested in an investment which (it appears) might give Valcke some sort of access to the property.
The president of the Court of Criminal Affairs Stephen Zenger produced the documents establishing in early December 2013, the property company that acquired the villa. That company was owned by …. Nasser Al-Khelaifi, but was then sold two days after it had acquired the property to a Mr Abdelkader, who was described as “brother and friend” by the boss of PSG.
But when confronted with an email from Jérôme Valcke to the representative of the company that owned the villa in which Nasser Al-Khelaifi was designated as the buyer, Nasser Al-Khelaifi said he had had had no desire to proceed with this acquisition, thus contradicting the statements of Jérôme Valcke at the The Public Ministry of the Confederation of Switzerland (MPC).
Jérôme Valcke then was asked to explain payments totalling 1.25 million euros received between November 2013 and July 2014. The MPC considers that these amounts paid by the third accused, the intermediary Greek, for the conclusion of TV rights on Italy and Greece actually resulted from a “corrupt pact” between the two men.
Jérôme Valcke next had to explain how as the former Secretary General of Fifa a payment of 500,000 euros the following November was made to his company Sportunited. I think it might be fair to say that his answer that, “My services weren’t billed by the hour and I don’t know if they were worth 500,000 euros, but a voluminous number of exchanges establish this support,” was not taken at face value by everyone in the court.
Asked by the president of the court to comment on the true nature of the payment, Jérôme Valcke then replied it was “clearly a loan” but added that at this time he was out of pocket by 10 million euros – although I have to admit that at this stage I lost the thread of why this was so.
The case, as they say, continues.
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