Fifa is to begin an investigation after Swiss prosecutors opened criminal proceedings into Paris St-Germain chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi and former Fifa secretary general Jerome Valcke.
The proceedings are connected to an ongoing investigation into Valcke and relate to the sale of World Cup TV rights to Bein Sports, of which Al-Khelaifi is chief executive.
Last year, the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) said it was investigating Valcke for “various acts of criminal mismanagement”.
On Friday, Italian finance police said they had seized a villa in Sardinia worth seven million euros (£6.2m) which Swiss prosecutors believed was made available to Valcke by Al-Khelaifi.
But Valcke told French sports newspaper L’Equipe: “I have never received anything in exchange for anything, I just want to say that it’s not true. I have never done that.”
In a statement on Thursday, the OAG said the new proceedings involving Al-Khelaifi had been “opened on the basis” of its findings.
It said it was “suspected that Jerome 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 new investigation – that which relates to Al-Khelaifi – is being conducted in partnership with authorities in France, Greece, Italy and Spain, and was opened in March 2017, the OAG said.
It added its representatives had interviewed Valcke as a suspect in Switzerland on Thursday.
Valcke was banned by Fifa for 10 years – although he has appealed against that ruling.
“Fifa fully supports the investigation conducted by the Swiss Office of the Attorney General as well as the other involved authorities that has become public today,” a statement by the governing body said.
In a statement, Bein Media Group said: “Following a request by the OAG of Switzerland, the Bein Sports offices in Boulogne-Billancourt were searched this morning.
“The employees on site co-operated with the authorities until the end of the search.
“Bein Media Group refutes all allegations by OAG. The company will fully co-operate with the authorities and is confident as to the future developments of this investigation.”
Source UK Media