PSG president targeted in Qatar athletics corruption probe | News | DW | 23.05.2019
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PSG president targeted in Qatar athletics corruption probe

French authorities informed the president of Paris Saint-Germain soccer club, Nasser Al-Khelaifi, that he is under formal investigation for corruption in the bidding process for the World Athletics Championships.

Nasser al-Khelaifi, president of French Ligue 1 champions Paris-Saint-Germain (PSG), is being investigated for corruption in connection with the bidding process for this year's World Athletics Championships in Doha, judicial sources told several media outlets.

The preliminary charge of "active corruption" was filed against al-Khelaifi, who is also chairman of the beIN media group in his native Qatar, in mid-May. Under the French legal system, the process of being "mis en examen" does not automatically trigger a trial, but al-Khelaifi is strongly suspected of corruption pertaining to the bidding process for this year's World Athletics Championships, also known as the "worlds."

The chief executive of beIN, Yousef al-Obaidly, was also handed preliminary charges. The former president of the track and field world governing body IAAF, Lamine Diack, is suspected of "passive corruption" in the same case.

The case centers around two payments totaling about $3.5 million (€3.1 million) that were allegedly made a few days before the decisive vote in 2011 to Pamodzi Sports Marketing, which belonged to Diack's son, by another sports marketing company, Oryx Qatar Sports Investment, which belongs to al-Khelaifi and his brother.

Lawyer denies involvement

However, al-Khelaifi's lawyer, Francis Szpiner, told the AFP news agency that his client "was neither a shareholder nor an executive at Oryx in 2011," adding that he did not authorize any payments relating to the allegations. "He didn't intervene, directly or indirectly, in Doha's bid [for the World Athletics Championships]," Szpiner said.

Doha lost out to London to stage the 2017 World Athletics Championships but it won against Barcelona and Eugene, US, to host this year's event.

ng/rt (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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