Valcke: I never took money from BeIN to sell World Cup rights on the cheap
Jérôme Valcke, the former secretary general of Fifa, has denied new allegations of corruption made against him by Swiss prosecutors relating to the sale of World Cup rights to BeIN Media Group, the international pay-TV broadcaster.
It emerged yesterday that the office of the attorney general of Switzerland had opened criminal proceedings against Valcke, who is already serving a 10-year ban from soccer, and Nasser Al-Khelaifi, the chairman and chief executive of the Qatar-headquartered BeIN Media Group.
The OAG said the case relates to bribery of private individuals, fraud, criminal mismanagement and forgery of a document, with Valcke suspected of accepting “undue advantages from a businessman in the sports rights sector” in connection with the award of media rights for certain countries to the 2018, 2022, 2026 and 2030 World Cups and from Al-Khelaifi in connection with the award of rights for certain countries to the 2026 and 2030 tournaments.
Both parties deny any wrongdoing.
Valcke (pictured) told French sports newspaper L'Equipe: “This complaint concerns an allegation that I would have received benefits, notably from Nasser, in exchange for handing over the rights at a price below the market value for the Middle East region.
“I just want to simply say that is not true. I never did that. I have never received something in exchange for something else. Secondly, everything that is negotiated on TV rights was always done by the department concerned and the final decision was always in the hands of the finance committee and the executive committee of Fifa.
“It was not my choice, my decision or my power to do that type of deal without it being validated. I refute the accusations against me and against Nasser.”
Pressed on whether he had received any money from Al-Khelaifi for the rights in question, Valcke was vehement in his denials, saying: “They say that there had been payments of money from Nasser to me for the sale of rights at a preferential rate. But I did not receive anything from Nasser, I can assure you. This case does not correspond to reality. There has never been an exchange between Nasser and me. Never.”
Valcke also denied the allegations relating to the unnamed businessman, saying, “there were no preferential rights that were handed over,” and any collusion linked to the fact his son was at one time an employee of Paris Saint-Germain, the French soccer club of which Al-Khelaifi is president.
Valcke said: “It’s crazy. Everything is mixed up. It has nothing to do with it. I believe my son was a PSG employee for three months. It has to stop. It is nonsense.”
Al Jazeera, as BeIN was originally known, has been a Fifa broadcast partner since 2009. It holds rights to the 2018 and 2022 editions of the World Cup in 23 countries in the Middle East and North Africa, and in France, where it will share coverage with TF1, the free-to-air commercial network, but these deals are not part of the proceedings.
The broadcaster has never publicly announced deals in 24 countries in the Middle East and North Africa for the 2026 and 2030 World Cups, although they have now been confirmed by Fifa, as has an agreement with with the Mountrigi Management Group in 16 countries in Central and South America.
BeIN responded with a statement on Thursday, saying: “Following a request by the office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG), the BeIN Sports offices in Boulogne-Billancourt (France) were searched this morning. The employees on site cooperated with the authorities until the end of the search.
“BeIN Media Group refutes all accusations made by OAG. The company will fully cooperate with the authorities and is confident as to the further developments of this investigation.”
Valcke was questioned on Thursday and properties were searched in France, Greece, Italy and Spain. The Swiss prosecutors said the action was carried out with Eurojust, a European Union agency for cooperation in criminal matters.
The criminal proceeding was opened on 20 March, but only announced yesterday.
On Wednesday, Valcke had attended a hearing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport to appeal against the 10-year ban imposed in 2016, telling reporters afterwards that he "never acted against the interests of Fifa" and that his reputation had been destroyed by the federation.
Valcke, who served as the right-hand man of disgraced former Fifa president Sepp Blatter, was sacked in January 2016 and subsequently banned for 12 years by the ethics committee for a range of offences including involvement in a scheme to profit from World Cup ticket sales, abuse of travel expenses, including personal use of private flights, attempting to sell TV rights below their market value and destruction of evidence.
However, the ban was reduced to 10 years after the Fifa appeal committee ruled that mitigating factors had not been fully assessed with regard to Valcke’s attempt to grant TV and media rights in the Caribbean for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to a third party for a fee far below their actual market value.