Paris Saint-Germain chief Nasser Al-Khelaifi was on Thursday charged with corruption in the bidding process for this year’s world athletics championships in Doha, judicial sources said. Al-Khelaifi, who is also the boss of Qatari television channel BeIn Sports, has been under investigation since March in connection with the bidding process for the 2017 and the 2019 world championships.
Another BeIn executive, Yousef Al-Obaidly, a PSG board member, is also under investigation by French justice over the awarding of the 2019 worlds to Qatar. Doha lost out to London to stage the 2017 worlds but beat off opposition to host this year’s event from Eugene in the United States and Barcelona.
Al-Khelaifi was informed of his “mis en examen”, a French legal term that has no direct equivalent in the American or British legal systems but roughly translates as being charged, by letter. He was unable to attend a May 16 court hearing as he was in Qatar for the Cup final.
The French term does not automatically trigger a trial but means that prosecutors believe there is strong or corroborated evidence of wrongdoing. The magistrates are looking specifically at two payments of $3.5 million in 2011 by Oryx Qatar Sports Investment, a company jointly owned by Al-Khelaifi and his brother Khalid, to a sports marketing firm run by Papa Massata Diack.
His father Lamine Diack was formerly president of the IAAF, the world athletics governing body, and a member of the International Olympic Committee. As well as probing the world athletics championships the French investigation is also examining circumstances in which the Olympic Games were awarded to Rio de Janeiro for 2016 and Tokyo for 2020.