Former FIFA chief and PSG president back in court after federal prosecutors appeal verdicts

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Former FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke and Paris Saint-Germain President Nasser al-Khelaifi appeared in a Swiss court on Monday after federal prosecutors appealed the verdicts in their September 2020 trial. .

The Swiss Federal Criminal Court said Valcke, al-Khelaifi and a third defendant, marketing director Dinos Deris, were all in court in Bellinzona for the start of the appeal.

The court has scheduled four days for the appeal. Al-Khelaifi, the boss of Qatari broadcaster beIN Media Group, is due in Spain on Wednesday for his side’s Champions League game against Real Madrid.

The allegations relate to World Cup television rights and Valcke’s free use of a holiday home in Sardinia purchased in 2013 by a Qatari company set up for the purpose of the purchase with the help of al-Khelaifi .

At the time, FIFA was renewing the rights to the World Cup in the Middle East and North Africa for beIN Media Group. From 2013 to 2015, Valcke also oversaw a FIFA consultation process to move the 2022 World Cup in Qatar from June and July to new dates in the cooler months of November and December.

Al-Khelaifi, who is also a member of UEFA’s executive committee, was acquitted in October 2020 of a charge of inciting Valcke to commit aggravated criminal mismanagement at FIFA.

Since prosecutors filed an appeal more than a year ago, al-Khelaifi’s influence on European football has grown. He now leads the European Club Association after he and PSG were key in helping UEFA resist the launch of the failed Real Madrid-backed Super League project last April.

Valcke was cleared of the charge of criminal mismanagement. The three Swiss judges ruled that the beIN deal for the 2026 and 2030 tournaments, worth a total of $480 million, was good for FIFA and that its interests had not been harmed.

Valcke was convicted in a separate case involving Deris but not al-Khelaifi.

He was given a 120-day suspended prison sentence for falsifying documents related to obtaining bribes totaling 1.25 million euros ($1.36 million) from his personal business as part of World Cup broadcast agreements in Italy and Greece.

Valcke was acquitted of bribery and Deris was acquitted of active bribery and incitement to aggravated criminal mismanagement.

The court left open whether the decision would have been any different had the judges been able to consider a now-updated private bribery law that removes the need to prove economic harm.

FIFA also received restitution of 1.75 million euros ($1.9 million) from Valcke, equivalent to the bribes and a refunded deposit on the villa.

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