— Published 10 March 2022

The floor to the defence

Wednesday 9 March saw a new day in the appeal trial of beIN Media and Paris-Saint-Germain chairman Nasser al-Khelaïfi (pictured above) and former FIFA number two Jérôme Valcke at the Swiss Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona. The third and final day was devoted to the defence case. Not surprisingly, the lawyers for both defendants called for a new acquittal. Nasser al-Khelaïfi’s lawyer, Fanny Margairaz, dismissed suspicions of a “corrupt arrangement” between her client and Jérôme Valcke. She said there was no such thing as the “Villa Bianca affair”, a luxury property in Sardinia bought by Valcke in 2013 for €5 million, a purchase made possible, according to the indictment, by an arrangement with the Qatari leader in exchange for broadcasting rights for the 2026 and 2030 World Cups in North Africa and the Middle East. During the closing arguments, the defence tried to show that the arrangement between the two men on this real estate deal was a private relationship, and had no connection with the awarding of the TV rights. The day before, the prosecution had requested 28 months in prison for Nasser al-Khelaïfi and 35 months for Jérôme Valcke. Both men were acquitted at a first trial in autumn 2020. The court in Bellinzona has not given a date for its decision.