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Swiss open criminal case against ex-FIFA official Valcke, beIN CEO

Swiss open criminal case against ex-FIFA official Valcke, beIN CEO

Swiss prosecutors said on Thursday they had opened a criminal investigation into former FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke and Nasser Al-Khelaifi, chief executive of Qatar's beIN Media, focused on corruption linked to World Cup broadcasting rights.

The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) has also been investigating former Secretary General of FIFA, Jerome Valcke.

"The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland has opened a criminal proceeding against the former Secretary General of Federation Internationale de Football Association and against the Chief Executive Officer of the BEIN MEDIA GROUP LLC [Al-Khelaifi] in connection with the award of World Cup media rights", an official statement read.

As part of the latest investigation, the OAG on Thursday interviewed Valcke in Switzerland as a suspect. "The company will fully cooperate with the authorities and is confident as to the future developments of this investigation", the spokesman said.

The Guardian has approached representatives for Khelaifi and Valcke for comment.

Al Khelaifi's profile has risen in recent weeks as PSG pursued and sealed a world record transfer of Brazil forward Neymar from Barcelona for £198m.

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The PSG soccer club's Qatari owners are trying to build a global sports brand. BeIN has also acquired a broad portfolio of rights including from UEFA for the Champions League and national team matches.

As it announced in March 2016, the OAG is already conducting a proceeding against Valcke, in particular on suspicion of various acts of criminal mismanagement.

This week the court of arbitration for sport in Lausanne commenced hearing Valcke's appeal against his ban by Fifa's ethics committee. "The operation is led by Swiss authorities". The scandal unseated top leaders at FIFA, whose full name is the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, and cast a shadow over the World Cup, the planet's most popular sporting event.

The probe extends scrutiny of world soccer, has been in turmoil since USA prosecutors said in 2015 that soccer officials had taken nearly $200 million in bribes from sports-marketing executives in the Americas seeking media and marketing rights to tournaments.

In the three-year Swiss investigation of worldwide soccer, prosecutors said Thursday they have details of 180 suspicious transactions through banks in the country and opened "around 25" criminal proceedings.