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PSG chairman Al-Khelaifi to join top UEFA body amid probes

NEWS
News
150   //    31 Jan 2019, 06:14 IST
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Paris Saint-Germain chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi is set to join the UEFA executive committee, despite the French club being under financial investigation and the Qatari himself being embroiled in criminal proceedings.

Al-Khelaifi was elected Wednesday by the European Club Association board to be one of its two delegates on UEFA's main policy-making panel. His position on the executive committee still has to be ratified next week by the UEFA Congress in Rome, a decision that could test the organization's conflict of interest regulations.

Al-Khelaifi is in charge of Doha-based beIN Sports, which broadcasts in the Middle East as well as parts of Asia, Europe and North America, and buys rights from UEFA.

Al-Khelaifi's conduct at the television network is being investigated by Swiss prosecutors who accused him in 2017 into bribery linked to beIN's agreement with FIFA for some 2026 and 2030 World Cup broadcast rights. He denied wrongdoing and was later questioned about allegedly providing an Italian luxury villa for then-FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke to use.

Now Al-Khelaifi is set to be sitting around the table with some of the most powerful figures in world soccer at UEFA.

The governing body's president, Aleksander Ceferin, said in November that Financial Fair Play regulations need to be "more robust" just as PSG's compliance with the rules, designed to curb so-called financial doping by wealthy backers of clubs in the Champions League or Europa League, is under scrutiny.

PSG had to forfeit 20 million euros ($23 million) of Champions League prize money after a 2014 settlement for breaching FFP rules. The club came under fresh scrutiny from UEFA in 2017, with ongoing questions about whether sponsor revenue from Qatar has been overvalued.

The Spanish soccer league last year asked UEFA to investigate PSG, claiming the team — along with Abu Dhabi-owned Manchester City — benefit from state aid which "distorts European competitions" and harms the game.

PSG could not make Al-Khelaifi available to discuss why he sought the seat on the UEFA executive committee or his objectives for the European game beyond the club he has been in charge of since Qatar's 2011 takeover.

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In a statement from the European Club Association, Al-Khelaifi said he was "deeply honored" to be taking the UEFA executive committee place of former Arsenal CEO Ivan Gazidis, who became ineligible last month when he moved to AC Milan. Italian clubs are already represented by Juventus president Andrea Agnelli, the ECA chairman.

"I look forward to working alongside members of the UEFA executive committee to enhance and develop European football, whilst ensuring that the interests of all the clubs are represented in the decision making process," Al-Khelaifi said.

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