Paris, Oct 13 (IANS) A former FIFA functionary on Friday denied accusations that he had accepted bribes from the president of French football club Paris Saint-Germain — who also heads the beIN Sports network — in return for broadcasting rights.
In a statement released by French media, FIFA’s ex-Secretary General Jerome Valcke denied the accusations of having benefited from bribes paid out by Qatari mogul Nasser al-Khelaifi in return for offering him World Cup broadcasting rights in the Middle East for a price lower than the market value, reports Efe.
The denial by the Frenchman, suspended for 10 years by FIFA’s ethics committee for alleged corruption offenses, came a day after French prosecutors ordered a search of the Paris headquarters of beIN Sports, run by the Qatari businessman.
Valcke insisted that this search and the related investigation have nothing to do with him and denied having made any deals with al-Khelaifi.
However, the French prosecutors, in cooperation with their Swiss counterparts, announced that both men were under investigation.
Swiss prosecutors on Thursday announced they were opening a new criminal investigation against Valcke and al-Khelaifi, along with another businessman, for alleged bribery of a private individual, fraud, criminal mismanagement and document forgery.
Valcke is suspected of accepting bribes paid by the unnamed businessman after awarding the broadcasting rights for the 2018, 2022, 2026 and 2030 World Cups in some countries, according to prosecutors.
Al-Khelaifi, meanwhile, was under investigation on suspicion of offenses related to the 2026 and 2030 World Cups.
As part of the ongoing investigations, simultaneous search operations were carried out in some places in Spain, France, Greece and Italy.