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Swiss Attorney General opens proceeding against Valcke, Al-Khelaifi

The office of the Swiss Attorney General (OAG) confirmed today (Thursday) that it has opened a criminal proceeding against former Fifa secretary general Jérôme Valcke and Nasser Al-Khelaifi, the chief executive of beIN Media Group, in relation to the award of media rights for the World Cup national team football tournament.

In a statement, the office said that the investigation opened in March of this year, and representatives of the OAG interviewed Valcke as a suspect in Switzerland today.

At the same time, in cooperation with authorities in France, Greece, Italy and Spain, a number of properties were searched today in a coordinated operation led by the Eurojust organisation, with the support of Fedpol police organisation and the judicial authorities in the various countries.

The investigation has also featured an unnamed “businessman in the sports rights sector” and focuses on allegations of “bribery of private individuals, fraud, criminal mismanagement and forgery of a document.”

"It is suspected that Jérôme Valcke accepted undue advantages from a businessman in the sports rights sector in connection with the award of media rights for certain countries at the Fifa World Cups in 2018, 2022, 2026 and 2030 and from Nasser Al-Khelaifi in connection with the award of media rights for certain countries at the Fifa World Cups in 2026 and 2030," the OAG said.

The OAG had already initiated a criminal proceeding against Valcke in March 2016 and the new proceeding was opened “primarily on the basis of findings obtained by the OAG in this earlier proceeding.”

The office clarified that “no one has been on remand… (and) the presumption of innocence applies.”

The OAG said that it is conducting around 25 criminal proceedings in the series of football-related investigations.