PSG's Nasser Al-Khelaifi 'calm' after hearing with Swiss investigators
Paris Saint-Germain chairman and CEO Nasser Al-Khelaifi declared himself "calm" and with "nothing to hide" after his seven-hour hearing with investigators at the offices of Switzerland's attorney general in Bern on Wednesday.
The Qatari supremo has had a criminal case for bribery linked to FIFA World Cup broadcast rights announced against him was summoned by Swiss federal prosecutors after they made the criminal proceedings against him public a fortnight ago.
"I came to Switzerland to explain myself," Al-Khelaifi is quoted as saying by L'Equipe after emerging from his interrogation in the de facto Swiss capital. "I answered questions and I have nothing to hide.
"I am available if the Swiss federal prosecutors want to see me again. I arrived calm and I remain calm as I leave."
The investigation concerns alleged bribes offered to disgraced former FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke in order to award the 2026 and 2030 World Cup rights to Qatari-owned beIN Media Group, the office of Switzerland's attorney general said when it was announced.
Valcke, 57, is alleged to have received "undue advantages" from "a businessman in the sports rights sector," who has not yet been identified, to award "media rights for certain countries" for four World Cups from 2018 through to 2030.
Al-Khelaifi, 43, first spoke publicly of the allegations after PSG's recent 4-0 win away at RSC Anderlecht in the UEFA Champions League and insisted then that he was similarly "calm" ahead of his trip to Bern.
Valcke, who is also named in the proposed criminal case, attempted to exonerate the ex-Qatari tennis star of any role when he spoke with both L'Equipe and Le Monde shortly after the news of the investigation broke two weeks ago.
A source has since revealed to ESPN FC that Jerome Valcke's son, Sebastien, did in fact work for PSG during three months in an indefinite capacity back in 2011 before leaving of his own accord, something that was mentioned when news of the criminal case was first made public.
This case stems from a wider investigation of FIFA's business that saw criminal proceedings opened against Valcke back in March 2016.
Valcke was FIFA's CEO-like secretary general under then-president Sepp Blatter from 2007 until he was fired in January 2016.
Despite Al-Khelaifi's attitude, he remains a suspect in the sort of criminal case that could take "years and not just months" before the Swiss system reaches a verdict, according to Andre Marty, a spokesman for the federal prosecution office.
"I can confirm that Mr. Al-Khelaifi was cooperative," Marty told reporters in Bern after the hearing. "Now what he said needs to be analysed and it needs to be seen if that is sufficient for the ongoing criminal proceeding."
Earlier on Wednesday, Marty had said that "there is huge complexity to the criminal proceeding, there are questions of translation, there are questions of the masses of information that needs to be proceeded and to give obviously to the suspected person a fair chance to answer according to his legal rights."
Jonathan Johnson covers PSG and the French national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Jon_LeGossip.