A Swiss court has opened a corruption probe against Nasser Al-Khelaifi, the Qatari businessman and chief executive of Paris Saint-Germain, and former FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke.
Al-Khelaifi is a key member of the organising committee for the FIFA World Cup in Qatar and was described by French newspaper L’Equipe as “the most powerful man in French football”.
Switzerland’s Office of the Attorney General (OAG) said on Thursday: “It is suspected that Jerome Valcke accepted undue advantages from a businessman in the sports rights sector in connection with the award of media rights for certain countries at the FIFA World Cups in 2018, 2022, 2026 and 2030 and from Nasser Al-Khelaifi in connection with the award of media rights for certain countries at the FIFA World Cups in 2026 and 2030.”
The Paris offices of BeIN Sports were searched on Thursday as part of a criminal probe against Valcke and Al-Khelaifi, French authorities said.
The French financial prosecutor’s office issued a statement on Thursday saying that two of its representatives, along with other French officials dealing with anti-corruption and tax avoidance affairs, had carried out the search.
It added that the operation had been carried out in conjunction with the EuroJust body, a European Union agency for cooperation in criminal matters, and Swiss authorities.
Al Khelaifi’s profile has risen in recent weeks as PSG pursued and sealed a world record transfer of Brazil forward Neymar from Barcelona for £198m.
The case stemmed from a wider investigation of Fifa’s business that saw criminal proceedings opened against Valcke in March 2016.
Valcke was FIFA’s secretary general under then-president Sepp Blatter from 2007 until he was fired in January 2016.
The French former TV presenter was in Switzerland on Wednesday to testify at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in his appeal hearing against a 10-year ban by Fifa for financial wrongdoing and abuse of expenses.