CEO of Qatar’s beIN Media faces questioning over World Cup bribery claims

The case comes amid continuing controversy surrounding Qatar’s winning of the right to host the 2022 World Cup

Nasser Al Khelaifi, the chairman and CEO of Qatari broadcaster beIN Media Group faced questions from Swiss investigators on Wednesday over allegations he bribed a FIFA official to obtain World Cup rights.

Swiss federal prosecutors announced criminal proceedings had been filed against the Qatari, who is also president of French football club Paris Saint-Germain and chairman of Qatar Sports Investments, two weeks ago.

The attorney general’s office of Switzerland said disgraced former FIFA secretary Jerome Valcke had accepted “undue advantages” from Al Khelaifi in relation to the awarding of Middle East and North Africa media rights for the 2026 and 2030 competitions, according to reports.

Both men are said to have been under investigation since March but the attorney general only went public with the case on October. They deny the allegations.

Al Khelaifi was expected to face several hours of questioning at the Bern office of the attorney general, Michael Lauber, due to “translation issues and the many questions we have”, spokesperson Andre Marty said.

Among the allegations are that Al Khelaifi allowed Valcke to use a EUR7m ($8.2m) luxury Sardinian villa in Porto Cervo.

The villa and other properties in Greece, Italty, Spain and France including beIN’s Paris offices have been searched, according to reports.

Valcke has already been banned from football-related activity for 10 years after being found guilty of misconduct over World Cup ticket sales, abuse of travel expenses, attempting to sell TV rights below market value and destroying evidence.

He has appealed the decision by FIFA’s formers ethics judge Hans-Joachim Eckert at the Court of Arbitration for Sport and told French paper L’Equipe he received “nothing from Nasser”.

BeIN Media Group has denied any wrongdoing or favourable treatment and said its media rights deal was “advantageous to FIFA”.

The case comes amid continuing controversy surrounding Qatar’s winning of the right to host the 2022 World Cup.

The Gulf country denies any wrongdoing in its securing of the tournament.

Al Khelaifi has also recently been in the spotlight for Paris Saint-Germain’s record transfer of Brazilian striker Neymar from Barcelona FC for EUR222m ($262.6M).

The deal came amid an economic boycott against Qatar by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt over the country’s alleged links to terrorist groups.

Qatar has said the crisis is not affecting its preparations for the tournament.

Read: UAE: Qatar must shun ‘extremism’ to host 2022 World Cup

Al Khelaifi could face an interim ban from football by FIFA while investigations continue.