French magistrates suspect fraud in the assignment of the 2019 World Athletics Championships to Qatar, after a series of "suspicious payments" for a total value of 3.5 million. Defense lawyer: "unfounded" charges based on “inaccuracies".
Doha (AsiaNews / Agencies) - A French court has indicted Qatari entrepreneur, former tennis player and politician Nasser Al-Khelaifi, current president of the Paris Saint-Germain football club (PSG), on charges of "active corruption" .
The judiciary suspect a crime occurred in the context of the awarding of the 2019 World Athletics Championships; the entrepreneur would have allocated a series of "suspicious payments" to Massata Diack, son of the former president of the International Federation, to bring the sporting event to Doha.
Sources close to the investigation report that Al-Khelaifi has been under investigation since last March. He holds various offices including president and managing director of beIN Media Group, president of the Qatar Investment Authority sovereign fund, president of the Qatar Tennis Federation and vice-president of the Asian Tennis Federation (ATF). In the past he was also director of al-Jazeera sport and president of the US football team FC Miami City.
Judges are suspicious of two payments, dating back to 2011, totaling 3.5 million. London was awarded the 2017 World Athletics Championships, while this year's edition is scheduled between September and October in Qatar.
For the prosecution the two payments were aimed at facilitating the organization of the 2017 athletics event in Doha.
Al-Khelaifi's, through his lawyer, speaks of "unfounded" charges based on "inaccuracies" given that the current president of the PSG was a shareholder in the company [his Oryx Qatar Sports Investment] of his brother Khalid only between 2013 and 2016.
Together with the former sportsman and entrepreneur, the general manager of BeIn Group, Yousef Al Obaidly, a member of the board of directors of the PSG, was also investigated. The president of the Emir's club, on the other hand, is already involved in Switzerland in a survey on the allocation of television rights for the 2026 and 2030 World Cups in Asian countries.
The opening of an investigation - which, it should be noted, does not entail the automatic indictment - is only the latest in a series of unfortunate episodes for the president of the Parisian team: he started with great ambitions of success, the PSG itself in fact it had to "satisfy" the championship after collecting the elimination from the French Cup – by a team already relegated - and, above all, from the Champions League.