Al-Khulaifi and Falk are threatened with imprisonment pending the ruling of the Swiss court tomorrow
Two senior football officials face the risk of being jailed for the first time in Europe as part of the FIFA corruption scandal, when a Swiss court issues its verdict against the former Secretary General of the French International Federation Jerome Falk, the president of the French club Paris Saint-Germain and the "BN" media group Qatari Nasser Al-Khulaifi, in the case of television broadcasting rights for the 2026 and 2030 World Cups.
Bellinzona federal court will issue its verdict at 13:30 (1230 GMT) against Falk and Al-Khalifi, who were heard for ten days in September, as well as Greek businessman Dinos Deris, who was not brought before it for health reasons.
The Swiss Public Prosecution had demanded that Al-Khulaifi be imprisoned for 28 months, Falk three years, and Dereis 30 months, with a partial stay of execution for each of them.
This is the first demand for imprisonment on European soil in the multiple scandals that rocked world football in 2015, after the conviction and imprisonment of several former South American and US officials.
The Public Prosecutor accuses Falk of obtaining from Al-Khulaifi the exclusive use of a luxury villa on the Italian island of Sardinia, in exchange for his support for beIN's access to television broadcasting rights for the 2026 and 2030 World Cups in the Middle East and North Africa regions.
Meanwhile, Al-Khulaifi, one of the most influential figures in the world of football, is accused of "inciting Falk to commit aggravated criminal mismanagement" and of unfair management.
Federal Attorney General Joel Bahu summed up Falk's charges of seeking money to secure a "wasteful" lifestyle.
As for Al-Khulaifi, the Public Prosecution Office reminded that he had acquired Villa Bianca for five million euros, through a company that was transferred almost immediately to the brother of a close relative, before placing it at Falk's disposal.
Falk and Al-Khulaifi denied before the court any "corruption agreement" between them and confirmed that the matter is related to a "special" settlement that has nothing to do with the contract between BN Sports and FIFA in April 2014.
Both of them also described the agreement with FIFA as "golden" and even "sublime". BeIN Sports paid 480 million euros to transfer the two world championships, a 60% increase over the value it paid for the transfer of the 2018 and 2022 editions, when it was the only candidate in the race to obtain the rights to broadcast them.
However, the Public Prosecution confirmed that regardless of this, Falk should have informed FIFA about the villa, and thus he was paid by the president of BN Sports to harm the FIFA, two misdemeanors related to "unfair management" and "incitement" to this violation.
On the other hand, the Attorney General accused Al-Khulaifi of "contempt of justice," saying that he did not cooperate with the investigation and denied buying a Sardinian villa, despite the evidence gathered by the investigators.
However, Al-Khulaifi's defense attorneys continued to describe the case as “artificial”, designed by the Public Prosecution “in an attempt to save its file,” after it was forced to drop the charge of “corruption” against Al-Khulaifi following an agreement in January between FIFA and the Qatari official, the content of which was not announced.
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