FIFA trial: Swiss court sets October 30 for verdict

The nine-day trial of Qatari football executive Nasser al-Khelaifi and former FIFA official Jerome Valcke ended on Thursday.

President of Paris Saint-Germain and Qatari football executive, Nasser al-Khelaifi.   -  AP

The nine-day trial of Qatari football executive Nasser al-Khelaifi and former FIFA official Jerome Valcke ended on Thursday, with Switzerland’s federal criminal court saying a verdict will be announced October 30.

Al-Khelaifi is accused of giving Valcke the use of a luxury villa on an Italian island in connection with the bidding for lucrative World Cup broadcasting rights. Prosecutors have asked for Al-Khelaifi to get a 28-month sentence, with all but four months suspended, for inciting Valcke as FIFA’s then-secretary general to commit “aggravated criminal mismanagement.”

Al-Khelaifi, the president of Paris Saint-Germain, denies providing Valcke use of a villa in Sardinia around the time in 2014 that FIFA sealed a USD 480 million World Cup deal with Doha-based broadcaster BeIN Media Group he also led. The deal for the 2026 and 2030 tournaments was a record for the Middle East and North Africa.

‘Complete acquittal demanded’

“The complete acquittal of Mr. Al-Khelaifi has been demanded today, and emphatically so,” his lawyer in Switzerland, Marc Bonnant, said on Thursday in a statement.

Valcke denies charges of mismanagement and - in a separate matter not involving Al-Khelaifi - bribery and falsifying documents. Those charges relate to Valcke taking kickbacks totalling EUR 1.25 million (USD 1.48 million) linked to World Cup rights in Greece and Italy, which Valcke allegedly booked to his private company as loans.

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Prosecutors asked for a three-year sentence, partially suspended, for Valcke and 30 months for Dinos Deris, a marketing executive based in Athens. Deris did not attend the trial citing health reasons. They deny wrongdoing.

The first completed trial hearing in Switzerland’s investigation of international football comes almost six years after FIFA asked federal prosecutors to look for suspected money laundering in the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding contests, won by Russia and Qatar.

Prosecutors have opened at least 25 criminal proceedings, and investigations are ongoing against former FIFA president Sepp Blatter, former UEFA president Michel Platini, and Valcke’s former deputy, Markus Kattner.

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