This evening, in Switzerland, the court session to consider the case of Nasser Al-Khulaifi, President of the French Club of Paris Saint-Germain and Chairman of the BeN Group concluded, after the defense team presented a 6-hour pleading in response to the prosecution case and demanded the complete acquittal of their client, and the court witnessed the defense team’s pleadings. He refuted the only accusation against Al-Khalifi, as the prosecution did not provide any evidence to prove the truth of this charge.
The case relates to accusations of corruption and bribery against FIFA Secretary General Jerome Falk and Greek businessman Contancius Nitrais, known as “Denos Dreis”, for granting media rights to the World Cup in Italy, Greece, the Middle East and North Africa. The only accusation against Al-Khulaifi was “inciting mismanagement.” In February of this year, FIFA completely dropped all charges of bribery alleged against Al-Khulaifi, after investigations that lasted for 3 years proved his innocence and that he had committed no wrongdoing.
Al-Khulaifi’s three Swiss attorneys – Marc Bonant, Gregoire Mangaet and Fanny Margairas – took turns refuting the prosecution case.
The prosecution newspaper stated that Al-Khulaifi bought a villa for Jerome Falk in exchange for providing media rights at a cheap price for BN Sport without a tender, but the defense was able to completely refute this argument according to the following:
First: The media rights that BN bought for the 2026 and 2030 World Cups was at a great price. It is not less than its value, as it paid $ 480 million, which far exceeds the $ 435 million target set by FIFA.
Second: The fact that there is no bid on the contract that BN Sport has obtained is entirely up to FIFA to choose according to its interests, which is legal and occurs in all types of sports contracts.
Third: Al-Khulaifi did not own the villa in question at all, and there is no single evidence from the prosecution that proves any incitement or encouragement to Falk on the part of Nasser Al-Khulaifi not to report the only charge against Al-Khulaifi.
During the session, it was also noted in the court that, given the issue of broadcasting at the present time and in all parts of the world, especially in the Middle East and North Africa, the beIN broadcast rights deal is more than wonderful for FIFA, due to the fact that broadcasting rights values are declining in light of the Covid-19 crisis and piracy. There is no competition in many global markets, at a time when Saudi Arabia is broadcasting illegally.
Last week, FIFA president Gianni Infantino defended the beIN deal at the FIFA 70 conference.
Commenting on today’s facts, Swiss lawyer Marc Bonant, who represents Nasser Al-Khelaifi in the case, said: “For the first time since the start of this investigation nearly 4 years ago, the defense of Nasser Al-Khulaifi was finally heard. The broadcast for 2026/2030 is pending for FIFA, and it is far from its low value,
adding that Al-Khelaifi did not own the villa in question at all. Allegedly, the charge has not been proven.
Bonant stressed that the complete innocence of Mr. Nasser Al-Khulaifi is required today and unequivocally, pointing out that they are confident that this will be the case and that justice will be served.
After the defense had completed his case, the Swiss court judge asked the Prosecutor’s Office whether he had any comments or response on the defense’s merits. What is noteworthy is that the prosecution responded to the judge’s request to refuse.
It is worth noting that the Swiss prosecutor had been involved in a major and unprecedented scandal that led to the resignation of Attorney General Michael Lauber earlier this year, who originally supervised the Al-Khulaifi case file, where Uber was punished for misconduct and lying, and many were dismissed. The other prosecutors involved in the Al-Khaifi case file raised questions about the independence, impartiality and credibility of the entire Swiss prosecution team.
The Swiss court closed today and a verdict is expected in the case on October 30th.