Former Fifa exec says ‘exceptions’ were made in awarding Qatar’s beIN Media Group World Cup TV rights

Former Fifa exec says ‘exceptions’ were made in awarding Qatar’s beIN Media Group World Cup TV rights
Former Fifa exec says ‘exceptions’ were made in awarding Qatar’s beIN Media Group World Cup TV rights

Thank you for your reading and interest in the news Former Fifa exec says ‘exceptions’ were made in awarding Qatar’s beIN Media Group World Cup TV rights and now with details

Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - A top Fifa director says Qatar’s beIN Media Group was awarded TV rights without other tenders being sought for two World Cups, a court has heard.

Niclas Ericson, Fifa’s former television rights director, has told a trial into football corruption that broadcasting rights for 2026 and 2030 Middle East and North Africa cups was not put to tender before being awarded to beIN Media Group.

The chairman of beIN Media Group, Nasser Al Khelaifi, and Fifa’s disgraced former secretary general Jerome Valcke are on trial in Switzerland over the awarding of television rights to future World Cups.

During questioning on Thursday, Mr Ericson, who is not facing any charges, said the awarding of most media rights contracts were preceded by a tender offer but there were exceptions.

“There were no fixed criteria [for deciding these exceptions],” Mr Ericson said.

“As I understood it at the time, yes, the secretary general could take such decisions but it was presented to committees as well when, as far as I recall, there was an exception.”

He told the court Mr Valcke did have the ability to decide on making an exception.

When asked if he could recall any World Cup contracts that did not go for tender, Mr Ericson said he remembered the Middle East and North Africa rights for the 2026 and 2030 tournaments, and “one more such contract...,” before pausing and adding, “yes, I don’t recall more at this time, no.”

Prosecutor Joel Pahud challenged Fifa’s former finance director Markus Kattner on why his signature along with Mr Valcke’s was on a contract that gave BeIN Media the broadcasting rights to the 2026 World Cups for $210m (dh771.31) and to the 2030 edition for $270m (dh991.68).

He replied that he was “not best placed” to answer the question, however, Mr Pahud put it to him that he should have known about the situation because Fifa’s finance committee held a meeting in Brazil in 2013 from which it presented a report saying there was “no tender nor discussions with others”.

“I don’t have a specific memory of the contents of this contract, neither on the question of whether the amounts would have been more favourable to Fifa,” he said.

“But I’m sure that the TV director did the best he could.”

It is alleged Mr Valcke received exclusive use of a villa belonging to Mr Al Khelaifi in Sardinia for 18 months without having to pay a total rent of up to €1.8 million (Dh7.84m).

Earlier the court had been shown a BlackBerry Messenger message Mr Valcke sent to his wife and an email he sent to the broker for the €7m-euro villa, which is set in lush grounds in Porto Cervo on the northern coast of the idyllic Italian island, indicating that Mr Al Khelaifi was the buyer.

Mr Al Khelaifi has denied sending the BlackBerry message to Mr Valcke and said he had never spoken to the broker.

A rental contract for the villa was signed by Abdelkader Bessedik, an associate of Mr Al Khelaifi, it is claimed.

Mr Al Khelaifi, who is also president of French champions Paris St Germain (PSG) and sits on the executive committee of European football body Uefa, is accused of inciting Mr Valcke not to tell Fifa about favours he received from him to buy the Sardinian villa.

The issue is whether the 46-year-old, who is a former Davis Cup tennis player for Qatar, directly helped Mr Valcke to buy the villa and use it for free given that beIN Media was the sole bidder for the Middle Eastern media rights to the 2026 and 2030 World Cups.

In a separate case to Mr Al Khelaifi, Greek businessman Dinos Deris is accused of giving Mr Valcke more than $1.5 million (Dh5.51m) in bribes.

Mr Deris is charged with bribery for 1.25 million euros (Dh5.42m) he allegedly paid Mr Valcke in exchange for favourable treatment of his bid for Greek and Italian media rights for 12 years of tournaments.

Mr Valcke denies he took bribes and claims the marketing executive was helping him pay $11m (Dh40.40m) of personal debt.

The trial is the first in Switzerland to shed light on Mr Valcke and other senior FIFA officials striking deals for media rights to football tournaments around the world that earn Fifa hundreds of millions of dollars.

The men deny the charges and the trial continues.

Updated: September 17, 2020 09:03 PM

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