The case did not relate to Nasser Al-Khelaifi or Yousef Al-Obaidly but rather much bigger allegations against the top executives of the IAAF.
France’s highest court has dropped all proceedings against the chairman of beIN Media Group Nasser Al-Khelaifi and Group CEO Yousif Al-Obaidly over false allegations around the commercial bid for the 2017 International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF).
In a statement to Doha News on Friday, Al-Khelaifi and Al-Obaidly’s Legal Council welcomed the court’s decision, saying the case “evidentially had zero standing and completely flawed merits.”
“We take note with satisfaction the ruling of the Court of Causation in France, which dismisses the IAAF-related procedure against Nasser Al-Khelaifi and Yousef Al-Obaidly in its entirety,” the statement read.
It noted that “the rule of law has prevailed, with the matter fully and finally closed with absolutely no case to answer.”
The case, which does not relate to Al-Khelaifi or Al-Obaidly, actually revolves around a news story that broke in 2014 relating to a wider scandal among IAAF’s officials.
The officials in question are IAAF’s former President Lamine Diack and his son Papa Massata Diack, both of which are being probed for numerous matters including Rio 2016, Tokyo 2020 as well as anti-doping results. Various members of the Diack family have since been found guilty.
The only elements in the case that related to Al-Khelaifi and Al-Obaidly were false allegations around the commercial bid in 2011 by the corporate entity ‘Oryx’ for various commercial rights to the 2017 IAAF World Championships, which was ultimately won by London.
The most recent court decision means it has “fully and finally” dismissed all procedures related to the case.
Last year, the Swiss Federal Court fully acquitted Al-Khelaifi of charges of corruption for the second time.
Al-Khelaifi, also the President of Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), was previously acquitted in October 2020 of claims raised against him, after the prosecution requested a 28-month prison sentence.
Marc Bonnant, Swiss counsel who represented Al-Khelaifi, noted that the June 2022 ruling proved that “the years of baseless allegations, fictitious charges, and constant smears” are “completely and wholly unsubstantiated.”
Meanwhile, former FIFA secretary general, Jerome Valcke, and Greek marketing agency executive, Dinos Deris were both convicted at the time.
Those claims go back to an alleged 2013 meeting at beIN’s French headquarters, in which Al-Khelaifi said he would buy a villa in Sardinia for a whopping $6.06 million.
The accusations stated that Valcke would get “the exclusive use of the villa Bianca” in exchange for his support of the media group’s television rights in North Africa and the Middle East for the 2026 and 2030 World Cups.
The Federal Criminal Court had ruled that Valcke’s payment was a bribe, making him guilty of a civil offence. He was ordered to pay FIFA in damages for the time he spent in the villa.
Valcke was also involved in another scandal in which he was accused of receiving more than one million euros of bribe money from Deris to get World Cup media rights in Greece and Italy.
Last year, Al-Khelaifi was named as one of the most influential figures in international sport as part of SportsPro’s (SP) prestigious “Ten Influencers 2022” list.
The UK-based media outlet went on to laud Al-Khelaifi for his firm stance against joining the controversial “Super League” last year, which had the potential to drastically reshape the European football’s landscape.
His stance earned him praise from football fans and leaders alike.