Cultura

Italian luxury villa seized in FIFA, World Cup bribery case

Italian luxury villa seized in FIFA, World Cup bribery case

The Paris offices of beIN Sports were searched on Thursday morning as part of the criminal probe against Valcke and Al-Khelaifi.

The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) said on Thursday it suspected Valcke accepted "undue advantages" from Al-Khelaifi in connection with the award of media rights for the 2026 and 2030 World Cups.

Swiss prosecutors have opened a criminal proceeding against former FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke and Qatar's beIN Media Chief Executive Nasser Al-Khelaifi, the latest escalation in their ongoing investigation into corruption in soccer.

The 43-year-old Al-Khelaifi is chairman of Qatar Sports Investments which has invested heavily in PSG.

"I refute the accusations against me or Nasser".

Several people "linked to various titles to the company that owns the villa" have been questioned, police added. "There was never any exchange between Nasser and I. Never".

The investigation into Al-Khelaifi was reportedly opened in March 2017 and is being conducted in partnership with French, Greek, Italian and Spanish authorities.

The Qatar broadcaster has denied any wrongdoing while confirming French authorities had raided the company's Paris offices at the request of Swiss authorities.

beIN Sports, formerly Al-Jazeera Sports, is one of the most powerful broadcasters in world football, owning broadcast rights across the Middle East and North Africa including for Champions League and European Championship matches. The Independent's Luke Brown reported this summer's extravagant spending of more than £200 million on world-record signing Neymar, as well as the future £166 million purchase of Kylian Mbappe, could breach Financial Fair Play rules.

According to the OAG, Valcke is also suspected of accepting advantages from the businessman for rights to the 2018, 2022, 2026 and 2030 editions.

As a result, he was sacked by FIFA and banned from football for a period of 12 years in January 2016, which was reduced to 10 years in June.

The new proceeding has been opened primarily on the basis of findings obtained by the OAG in this earlier proceeding.