ZURICH. — The verdict in the trial involving former FIFA number two, Jerome Valcke, and Paris Saint-Germain president, Nasser Al-Khelaifi, regarding alleged corruption in the allocation of World Cup TV rights will be announced on October 30, a Swiss court said yesterday.
The Swiss Federal Criminal Court of Bellinzona announced the date to reporters following 10 days of hearings after which prosecutors called for prison sentences for both Valcke and Al-Khelaifi.
On Tuesday prosecutors asked for a jail term of three years for Valcke and a 28-month sentence for Al-Khelaifi, who is also president of beIN Media.
It will be the first judgment handed down in Switzerland, the seat of most international sports organisations, in the 20 or so proceedings opened in the last five years involving FIFA.
Bellinzona has been trying Valcke on two charges related to his quest for money to maintain what Federal Prosecutor Joel Pahud called a “spendthrift” lifestyle.
Al-Khelaifi is included in the first charge.
The public prosecutor’s office said Valcke sought the Qatari’s help in the summer of 2003 to buy a luxury villa in Sardinia, at a time when beIN, a Qatari-owned broadcaster, was negotiating the extension of its media rights in North Africa and the Middle East for the 2026 and 2030 World Cups.
The prosecutor said Al-Khelaifi acquired the house for €5 million (US$5.85 million), via a company that was transferred almost immediately to the brother of one of his close collaborators, before it was made available to Valcke.
The two men denied a “corrupt agreement” and said the deal was a “private” arrangement, unrelated to the contract concluded by beIN with FIFA in April 2014.
During the trial, Valcke complained how he had struggled “with no income” since losing his job as Sepp Blatter’s right-hand man and had sold his yacht and jewellery.
“Without work, with a family, I assure you that the money burns very quickly,” he told the court, adding that he had had to sell his yacht and jewellery.
The 59-year-old Frenchman also said he had been “unable to open a bank account in Europe” since 2017 — he divorced a year later.
“I have started an agriculture project in a country and I hope that the harvests will provide income in the coming months,” he explained, declining to give more detail, claiming that “two or three other attempts” to make a fresh start had been “polluted” by the intervention of FIFA.
The defence had argued the trial was “muddied” and “contaminated” by the revelation of informal meetings between former Swiss attorney general Michael Lauber and current FIFA president Gianni Infantino, prompting a separate investigation.
The judges ruled there was nothing to establish “that the evidence in the present proceedings would be impaired”.
Both Valcke and Al-Khelaifi face up to five years in jail if found guilty.
The trial is scheduled to last until today. The defence argued that the trial was “muddied” by the revelation of informal meetings between former Swiss attorney general Michael Lauber and current FIFA president Gianni Infantino.
Lauber resigned from his post in July and both men are under investigation for suspected collusion.
Al-Khelaifi’s lawyers have said that the charges against their client are “clearly artificial”.
The Swiss prosecutors had to drop a charge of corruption because of an out-of-court settlement in January between Al-Khelaifi and FIFA, which then withdrew its complaint against him. — AFP/FarPost