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Swiss investigators open World Cup bribery case against Al-Khelaifi, Valcke

French President Francois Hollande Receives Qatari Interior Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani

PARIS, FRANCE - NOVEMBER 17: Paris Saint-Germain’s President Nasser Al-Khelaifi waits prior to a meeting at the Elysee Presidential Palace on November 17, 2015 in Paris, France. Al-Thani visits Paris to attend the security exhibition Milipol, a showcase for equipment and knowhow about internal state security and terrorism, which alternates between Paris and Doha, and meet French leaders. (Photo by Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images)

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Swiss prosecutors have opened an investigation against Paris Saint-Germain president and BeIN Media Group CEO Nasser Al-Khelafi on suspected bribery charges with regards to World Cup media rights, the office of Switzerland’s attorney general announced on Thursday.

The announcement claimed the investigation reaches into France, Greece, Italy and Spain, and that authorities have already searched properties to find key evidence.

Also named in the investigation are FIFA itself, and former FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke who was fired and banned from FIFA alongside Sepp Blatter in January of 2016. The announcement read:

“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,”

Valcke has been publicly under investigation by Swiss authorities since March of last year, when they announced he was suspected of criminal mismanagement.

BeIN Media Group and BeIN Sports confirmed their French office was searched by the Swiss authorities, and that they cooperated with all requests. They were quick, however, to issue a sweeping denial of all allegations, saying, “BeIN Media Group refutes all allegations made by OAG [Attorney General of Switzerland]. The company will fully cooperate with the authorities and is confident as to the future developments of this investigation.”

FIFA released a short statement saying, in part, “FIFA has constituted itself as a damaged party in this investigation.”

Valcke did not respond to requests for a statement, and Paris Saint-Germain declined to comment, according to the Associated Press.

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