Nasser Al-Khelaifi, current president of the PSG (Paris Saint-Germain) football club, is facing athletics corruption charges following the incident regarding Qatari bids for hosting the world athletics championships.
The verdict, which was given by a French judge, indicated that the case was about the championships held in both 2017 and 2019, according to a report from the AFP news agency. Investigation was conducted on Khelaifi, who also happens to be the boss of BeIn Sports, way back in March.
The investigation involved the scrutiny of two payments back in 2011 which amounted to a total of $3.5 million (£2.8 million). This is after the fact that Qatar will be the one hosting the championship which is to be held in September-October this year, despite London winning the bid for the said event.
Allegations claimed that there was a transaction between the Oryx Qatar Sports Investment firm and another firm which is owned by Lamine Diack’s son. According to French prosecutors, it was Khelaifi who approved the payment. However, despite the accusations, Khelaifi’s lawyers deny the claim, stating that he was neither a shareholder nor director that time. They even added that Khelaifi only had his shares from 2013-2016.
Meanwhile, Lamine Diack, former president of IAAF from 1999 to 2015, has faced related corruption charges in March. An arrest warrant was also issued for his son, Papa Massata Diack.
Khelaifi denies the allegations
According to Khelaifi’s lawyers, the allegations made by French prosecutors were all “inaccurate”. They even added that there was no history of Khelaifi validating such payment. Meanwhile, Yousef Al-Obaidly, another executive of BeIn Sports, is currently under investigation in France over the 2017 championship awarding ceremony. He happens to be a board member of the PSG football club.
However, Obaidly also denies the allegations, calling them as baseless and unsubstantiated. He even mentioned that he would gladly contest them. Back in January this year, Khelaifi has been elected to Uefa’s executive committee.
According to the IAAF, they will continue to be always available to share any useful information with the French prosecutor to further hasten the investigation process. However, they are yet to witness the specific charges which were referred to by the media. The dates which were published in the media seem to have coincided with the bidding timetable for the 2017 championships in which London was the winner.
The bidding timetable for the 2019 championships was held in February 2014 and came to a decision in November of the same year. Hence, the rights holder was still Abu Dhabi Media who has signed a partnership back in January.
Mr. Khelaifi’s lawyer denied any accusations pointed at his client, stating that the transaction made between Oryx and another firm was completely transparent. During that time, Khelaifi wasn’t seated as a director and shareholder of Oryx, implying that he didn’t intervene in Doha’s candidature.
This season, the PSG football club managed to win the French Ligue 1 championship. However, they were removed from the Champions League following their defeat from Manchester United.