Athletics

PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi charged with corruption

Paris Saint-Germain chief Nasser Al-Khelaifi was yesterday charged with corruption in connection with the bidding process for this year's world athletics championships in Doha, judicial sources said.

Al-Khelaifi, who is also the boss of Qatari television channel beIN Sports, has been under investigation since March in a probe of the bidding process for the 2017 and this year's world championships.

Doha lost out to London to stage the 2017 worlds, but beat off opposition to host this year's event from Eugene in the United States and Barcelona.

Al-Khelaifi was informed by letter of his "mis en examen", a French legal term that has no direct equivalent in the American or British legal systems but roughly translates as being charged.

The French term does not automatically trigger a trial, but means that prosecutors believe there is strong or corroborated evidence of wrongdoing.

Al-Khelaifi was unable to attend questioning by investigators scheduled for May 16 as he was in Qatar for the domestic cup final.

French prosecutors are looking specifically at two payments of US$3.5 million (S$4.8m) in 2011 by Oryx Qatar Sports Investment, a company jointly owned by Al-Khelaifi and his brother Khalid, to a sports marketing firm run by Papa Massata Diack.

Diack's father Lamine Diack was the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) president from 1999 to 2015 and a member of the International Olympic Committee.

As well as probing the world athletics championships, the French investigation is also examining circumstances in which the Olympic Games were awarded to Rio de Janeiro for 2016 and Tokyo for 2020.

Before the decision to charge him, Al-Khelaifi had been questioned in March as "person of interest" in the case revolving around the 2011 payments by Oryx, which were made at a time when Doha was seeking to host the 2017 IAAF World Championships and the 2020 Olympics. - REUTERS

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