By Tony Attwood
The Swiss prosecution service has called for prison sentences against the president of beIN and the ex-number 2 of Fifa, Jérôme Valcke. You might recall that Untold, alone among UK publishers has been following these various stories, while the UK media utterly refuses to acknowledge that these cases are even happening.
The case against the president of beIN is particularly embarrassing for both the FA and the Premier League, since it was beIN which led the campaign against Newcastle United being sold to a Saudi Arabian consortium, because it was said that Saudi Arabia supported a copyright breaking broadcaster that was breaching copyright held by beIN.
Those were the rights to broadcast Premier League games in the Middle East. Now we have heard in court that the president of beIN is perhaps not the sort of upstanding broadcaster the Premier League had felt he was, in deciding against Newcastle United’s right to deal with Saudi Arabia.
Of course we don’t have the end of the case yet, so nothing is implied here as to anyone’s guilt, and we are of course just reporting details that are being given in the European press – which we do simply because the UK press always refuse to discuss these cases involving Fifa people at all. Quite why this censorship is taking place I know not – but there are powerful forces at play here – you obviously can make up your own mind.
The president of beIN Media is also the president of PSG, so a man of some power and prestige. He is Nasser Al-Khelaïfi, and he has been on trial along with the former number two of Fifa, whose career we have followed with much interest, Jérôme Valcke.
After a week of hearing before the Federal Criminal Court of Bellinzona, the capital city of southern Switzerland’s Ticino canton, the prosecution has demanded 28 months imprisonment against Mr. Al-Khelaïfi and 3 years against Mr. Valcke, with only a partial suspension in both cases.
This indictment, is probably the most serious against the forces running football which is yet to be heard in Europe. The United States, of course, has already put two former Latin American leaders behind bars and has only failed elsewhere because of extradition problems.
As you will know if you have been paying attention, Jérôme Valcke is the former right-hand man of Sepp Blatter, and he has the supreme misfortune to appear in two simultaneous cases related to what the French papers are calling “his quest for money to ensure a “cicada” lifestyle,
Now I love this allusion and want to pause for a moment to explain it, in case you are not familiar with this.
Cicadas spend most of their lives underground, developing into adults before they emerge, once every two to five years (although some can leave emergence as long as up to 17 years). That is how Jérôme Valcke is being seen. As a circada.
Now in this case he is accused of having requested the help of Nasser Al-Khelaïfi in the summer of 2013 to rent at very low cost a luxurious villa in Sardinia, at a time when beIN was negotiating the extension of its media rights in North Africa and in the Middle East, for the 2026 and 2030 World Cups.
Mr. Al-Khelaïfi (described in court as a key figure in world football) had acquired the Villa Bianca for 5 million euros, via a company which he then transferred almost immediately to the brother of one of his close associates, before making it available to Mr. Valcke. Mr. Al-Khelaïfi and Jérôme Valcke state that this was a private arrangement, unrelated to the contract finally concluded by beIN with Fifa in April 2014.
Meanwhile beIN paid 480 million dollars for two World Cups, 60% more than for the 2018 Worlds. and 2022. An astonishing amount of money. Nothing corrupt about paying lots of money for a contract of course, but still worth a little look to see what was going on because it was so large.
The argument is that Mr. Valcke should have declared what was happening concerning the Villa Bianca to Fifa, because he was a Fifa employee, and Mr. Al-Khelaïfi was bidding unprecedentedly huge amounts of money for the broadcasting rights.
The prosecution also criticized Nasser Al-Khelaïfi for his “contempt for justice”, given that he had denied buying the Sardinian residence, despite evidence to the contrary which had been gathered by the investigators.
The prosecution state that Mr. Valcke, having supported the application of beIN for TV rights then in return got the “exclusive use” of the Sardinian luxury villa.
Mr Valcke admitted to having requested the assistance of the Qatari leader to finance the “Villa Bianca”, a few months before the signing in April 2014 of the contract between beIN and Fifa relating to rights in North Africa and the Middle East of the 2026 and 2030 World Cups. But he says the two episodes had nothing to do with each other; the Villa Bianca affair was a private matter.
In a separate case involving television rights in Greece and Italy, Mr Valcke was on trial for receiving €1.25 million in three instalments from a Greek businessman, who has been imprisoned for his part in the affair for two and a half years.
Jérôme Valcke has claimed that he has not been able to open a bank account in Europe since 2017, had had to sell his yacht and jewellery and had his Porsche Cayenne stolen. Jérôme Valcke and beIN and PSG boss Nasser Al-Khelaïfi will know their fate on October 30.
The prosecution requested 3 years’ imprisonment for Jérôme Valcke and 28 months for Nasser Al-Khelaïfi, with a partial suspension.
Chaos in Europe; silence in England
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- Fifa starts to implode, and the strange case of lack of UK interest in events
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- How Fifa is finally falling apart in the courts (but the English don’t want to know)
- The Swiss government is fighting Fifa. And now so is the USA!
- Another legal case involving Fifa, yet more silence in the UK media
- How much does a club have to spend on transfers to get a trophy?
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