beIN Media Group has refuted all accusations of corruption by Swiss prosecutors examining the sale of World Cup media rights.
On Thursday, the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) opened a corruption investigation against the chief executive officer of beIN Media Group and a former secretary general of FIFA.
beIN CEO Nasser Al-Khelaifi and former FIFA executive Jerome Valcke are suspected of bribery, fraud, criminal mismanagement and forgery of a document, the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland said in a statement 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 OAG statement said.
In addition to heading up beIN, Khelaifi is also chairman and CEO of Paris Saint-Germain Football Club in France.
Prosecutors indicated that Khelaifi was under suspicion only for actions taken as the head of the media group, which operates on five continents.
The Qatar-based broadcaster issued a statement denying wrongdoing while confirming French authorities had raided the company’s Paris offices after a Swiss request.
“Following a request by the office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG), the beIN Sports office in Boulogne-Billiancourt (France) were searched this morning. The employees on site cooperated with the authorities until the end of the search,” beIN said in a statement.
“beIN Media Group refutes all accusations made by the OAG. The company will fully cooperate with the authorities and is confident as to the future developments of this investigation.”
No arrests were made during the searches.
Valcke, who was Sepp Blatter’s right-hand man at FIFA, was interviewed in Switzerland as a suspect on Thursday, the Swiss prosecutor’s office said.
In an interview with French sports newspaper L’Equipe on Friday, he denied the allegations.
“They say there have been payments from Nasser to me in return for the sale of rights at a preferential rate. But I’ve received nothing from Nasser”, Valcke told the paper.
“There has never been an exchange between Nasser and me. Never.”