PSG & BeIN boss escapes imprisonment, FA and media sigh a deep sigh of relief

By Tony Attwood

BeIN Media and PSG boss Nasser Al-Khelaïfi was acquitted on Friday in Switzerland in a television rights case,   The one time Fifa deputy director Jérôme Valcke was found guilty but escaped imprisonment but was fined and now has a criminal record.

This case was the first that has come to court in a whole series of legal cases in Switzerland with both men being accused of having concluded a secret agreement as to which company should get the rights to broadcast world cup matches.  The deal allegedly included the deputy head of Fifa getting a rather attractive villa in Sardinia.

The maximum sentence possible was five years imprisonment.

In fact at the end of ten days of hearings last month, the prosecution requested 28 months imprisonment against the President of beIN and PSG, and three years inside for Jérôme Valcke along with 30 months for Greek businessman, Dinos Deris wit the sentences to be partially suspended.

Dinos Deris was acquitted Friday on charges of “private corruption”.

The key piece of evidence was that the deputy director of Fifa had got a luxury villa which cost 5 million euros and which was owned by a company that in turn was owned by Nasser Al-Khelaïfi.

The former FIFA secretary general 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 a contract between beIN and the football body concerning the rights in North Africa and the Middle East of the 2026 and 2030 Worlds.

The defendants agreed the arrangements took place but both said that this was a private arrangement.  It also was revealed that in the case of the bidding for the TV rights, beIN was the only company to put in a bid, and indeed they bid far more than had ever been paid before for the rights.

In fact it became clear that BeIN paid $480 million for two World Cups, which is 60% more than for the 2018 and 2022 competition.  The argument was thus, there could be no corruption because beIN had paid so much more than previously gained, and was the only bidder.

So there we are.  Case number one is over, with the big profile defendant being found innocent on all charges.   That result will come as a huge relief to the British media who, in solidarity with Fifa have resolutely failed to cover any aspect of the case at all, to the extent of making it disappear.

However that was the smallest of the series of cases.  We still have to come the cases in which Infantino and the head of the Swiss legal system are charged with colluding together in secret meetings.

And we are waiting to see if any nation has the nerve to stand up to Fifa in the way the Trinidad and Tobago has, by declaring that their national laws take precedent over Fifa rules.   Plus no one in football is mentioning that the Qatar stadia for the next world cup have been built by slave labour – another subject largely ignored by the British media.

Those cases won’t go away.  We await the next round with interest.