GENEVA – Swiss prosecutors announced on Thursday they were opening a new criminal investigation against a former FIFA chief and two businessmen for alleged corruption offenses related to the soccer World Cup broadcasting rights.
Although the investigation was opened on March 20, prosecutors had refrained from publicly revealing it until Thursday, when FIFA’s ex-Secretary General Jerome Valcke appeared before investigators for questioning, the prosecutors said.
“The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland has opened a criminal proceeding against the former Secretary General of FIFA and against the Chief Executive Officer of the BEIN Media Group LLC (Nasser al-Khelaifi) in connection with the award of World Cup media rights,” the prosecutors said in a statement.
The prosecutors said the investigation also included a businessman in the sports rights sector, without revealing his name.
The statement added that the suspects were under investigation for alleged bribery of a private individual, fraud, criminal mismanagement and document forgery.
Valcke is suspected of accepting bribes paid by the unnamed businessman after awarding the broadcasting rights for the 2018, 2022, 2026 and 2030 World Cups in some countries, according to prosecutors.
Al-Khelaifi, meanwhile, was under investigation on suspicion of offenses related to the 2026 and 2030 World Cups, according to the statement.
As part of the ongoing investigations, simultaneous search operations were carried out in some places in Spain, France, Greek and Italy.