Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi is glad to have "completely cleared my name" after being acquitted by a Swiss court of inciting aggravated criminal mismanagement.

Al-Khelaifi had been charged in a case relating to beIN Media Group's allocation of television rights for the 2026 and 2030 World Cups.

The case also involved ex-FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke, who was found guilty of forging documents relating to separate media rights and given a 120-day suspended prison sentence.

A statement from PSG chief Al-Khelaifi, who is also part of UEFA's executive committee, read: "Today's verdict is a total vindication.

"After a relentless four-year campaign against me that ignored the basic facts and the law at every turn, I have finally, fully and completely cleared my name.

"It restores my faith in the rule of law and in due process, after four years of baseless allegations, fictitious charges and constant smears of my reputation - all of which have been proven to be completely and wholly unsubstantiated."

He added: "I can now devote all my energy to my various roles, which are all focused on building a positive future for world sport - at a time when the industry needs strong leadership the most."

 

Cristiano Ronaldo's "extraordinary strength of character" has been hailed by Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi.

A five-time Ballon d'Or winner, Ronaldo has claimed league titles with Manchester United, Real Madrid and current club Juventus.

The 35-year-old forward has also won five Champions League trophies – four with Madrid and one during his time at United – while he helped Juve to Serie A and Supercoppa Italiana glory last season.

Linked to Ligue 1 champions PSG previously, Al-Khelaifi lauded Ronaldo to spark fresh speculation.

"Year after year, he shows a unique determination, an extraordinary strength of character," Al-Khelaifi told France Football.

"He remains motivated by this desire to improve every day and he always pushes his limits.

"I admire this relentless will; he is a great example for all athletes of the future."

Ronaldo had scored 21 Serie A goals in 22 appearances and 25 across all competitions prior to the coronavirus pandemic.

Al-Khelaifi was also glowing in his praise of former PSG stars Zlatan Ibrahimovic and David Beckham.

Ibrahimovic scored 156 goals and won four Ligue 1 titles among other silverware during his time at PSG, where the Swedish striker played from 2012 until 2016.

"Thinking back to all the players who have joined us since the beginning of our ambition with PSG, I could still highlight the time of Zlatan Ibrahimovic for his character, his leadership, his charisma and his ability to get things done," said Al-Khelaifi.

"He was always reliable, and when the situation demanded something from him, he knew how to stand up to the challenges of the moment."

Former United, Madrid and England star Beckham enjoyed a brief stint at PSG before retiring in 2013.

"I must also quote David Beckham. Although he was only at PSG for a short time, he had a transformative effect on our club," Al-Khelaifi added.

"His investment in training, his concern for applying every detail at every moment, his determination to succeed, his taste for teamwork and his natural aura were extremely precious assets."

Paris Saint-Germain have dedicated their Ligue 1 title triumph to healthcare workers and "everyday heroes" who have made such sacrifices during the coronavirus crisis.

PSG were declared champions on Thursday after the Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) confirmed final standings will be decided on a points-per-game basis.

The announcement came two days after French prime minister Edouard Philippe said there would be no professional sporting events in the country before September, bringing the 2019-20 campaign to an end.

Thomas Tuchel's side were 12 points clear at the top of the table with a game in hand when the season was suspended in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over 24,000 people have died in France after contracting the virus and PSG chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi has paid tribute to those working on the frontline.

He said: "We would like to dedicate this 2019-2020 Ligue 1 title to healthcare staff and to all the everyday heroes on the frontline whose commitment and self-sacrifice over many weeks have earned our deepest admiration.

"We understand, respect and support the decisions taken by the French government to end the championship. Health, as the government has always said, must be everyone's priority.

"I would like to thank the players, the coach, the technical and medical staff as well as all the club's employees for their tremendous work. This trophy is a reward for their hard work every day.

"In these difficult times, I hope that this trophy will bring a little happiness and hope to all our supporters, and I am grateful to them for their unwavering support which helps drive Paris Saint-Germain forward.

"I would also like to also thank all our partners for their loyalty throughout, and I look forward to being able to celebrate this title with all the PSG family when the conditions allow."

While PSG can look forward to celebrating being crowned French champions for a ninth time, Toulouse and Amiens were consigned to relegation, with Lens and Lorient replacing them in the top flight.

Marseille and Rennes will join PSG in the Champions League, while Reims and Nice are expected to follow Lille into the Europa League if the finals of the Coupe de la Ligue and Coupe de France cannot go ahead.

Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi and former FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke have been indicted over the awarding of World Cup and Confederations Cup rights.

The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) has charged Valcke with accepting bribes, several counts of aggravated criminal mismanagement and the falsification of documents.

Al-Khelaifi, who also serves as the chairman of the beIN Media Group and is on the UEFA Executive Committee, and an unnamed businessman have been charged with inciting Valcke "to commit aggravated criminal mismanagement".

The unnamed businessman has also been charged with bribery, although similar charges against Al-Khelaifi relating to the World Cup tournaments in 2026 and 2030 have been dropped.

The OAG opened an investigation in 2017, a year after Valcke was sacked by FIFA after he was found guilty of breaching the governing body's ethics code on a number of occasions.

A statement from the OAG on Thursday read: "The investigations revealed that Valcke had received undue advantages from both co-accused.

"Valcke was refunded the down payment of around €500,000 that he had made to a third party on the purchase of a villa in Sardinia, after Al-Khelaifi had purchased the villa through a company instead of Valcke.

"Valcke then received from Al-Khelaifi the exclusive right to use the villa for a period of 18 months – until he was suspended by FIFA – without having to pay an estimated rent in between about €900,000 and about €1.8million.

"From the third accused, Valcke received three payments totalling about €1.25m to his company Sportunited LLC."

The statement went on to explain that Valcke's criminal mismanagement charge related to the fact he "had not reported the mentioned advantages that he received to FIFA". Al-Khelaifi and the unnamed businessman have been charged with this corresponding incitement.

Valcke has also been charged with “paying and accepting bribes” based on an allegation that “between 2013 and 2015 [he] exploited his position as Secretary General of FIFA to influence the award of media rights for Italy and Greece for various World Cup and FIFA Confederations Cup tournaments in the period between 2018 and 2030 in order to favour media partners that he preferred.”

It was also confirmed FIFA had withdrawn its criminal complaint against Al-Khelaifi and also partially against Valcke relating to the separate alleged bribery of private individuals.

That criminal complaint, which was in connection to allegations over the awarding of media rights for the 2026 and 2030 World Cups, was withdrawn after FIFA reached "an amicable agreement" with Al-Khelaifi.

The OAG statement added: "The accused are presumed innocent until a judgment enters into force."

Following the OAG's announcement, Al-Khelaifi released a statement that read: "After an exhaustive three-year investigation, where I have fully and openly cooperated with the Public Prosecutor in Switzerland, I am pleased that all charges of bribery in connection with the 2026 and 2030 World Cups have been dropped. As I have said vehemently and repeatedly for three years, the charges have not – and have never had – any basis whatsoever, either in fact or law.

"It is now – finally – indisputable fact that the 2026 and 2030 agreements were negotiated at arms-lengths and without any improper influence in any form. After the most forensic public, private, lawful and unlawful scrutiny of all my dealings, I have been cleared of all suspicions of bribery and the case has been dismissed definitively and conclusively."

Al-Khelaifi continued: "While a secondary technical charge remains outstanding, I have every expectation that this will be proven completely groundless and without any substance whatsoever, in the same way as the primary case.

"While I have cooperated with all authorities during the legal process, the three-year investigation has been characterised by constant leaks, misinformation and a seemingly relentless agenda to smear my reputation in the media – completely irrespective of the facts and the notion of due process. For that reason, I have requested the relevant Swiss authorities to open a criminal enquiry into the conduct of the investigation. I also reserve the right to take action against certain media who for three years have repeatedly published factually-unsupported and highly damaging articles, often based on illegally-sourced and – quite remarkably in some cases – faked and fabricated materials, to satisfy their narrative of my supposed guilt."

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