France’s highest court has dropped proceedings against Paris Saint-Germain chief Nasser Al-Khelaifi over alleged corruption in the bidding process for the 2017 and 2019 world athletics championships.
The Court of Cassation’s ruling, seen by AFP, ends an investigation that saw Al-Khelaifi charged with corruption in May 23, 2019.
“I am pleased with this decision which is in accordance with the law and I recall that Nasser Al-Khelaifi has always contested having committed any offence in this case,” his lawyer Francis Szpiner told AFP.
Doha lost out to London to stage the 2017 worlds but beat off opposition to host the 2019 event from Eugene in the United States and Barcelona.
French prosecutors were looking specifically at two payments of $3.5 million in 2011 by Oryx Qatar Sports Investment, a company run by Nasser’s brother Khalid Al-Khelaifi, to a sports marketing firm run by Papa Massata Diack.
Diack’s late father Lamine Diack was president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), now World Athletics, from 1999 to 2015 and a member of the International Olympic Committee.
As well as his role as president of PSG, Al-Khelaifi is also the boss of Qatari television channel BeIN Sports.
The Court of Cassation’s decision also ends the investigation of Yousif Al-Obaidli, commercial director of the Al Jazeera television channel.
While none of the accused were French and the companies involved, as the IAAF, were based outside France, prosecutors argued they could investigate because of a meeting at the Negresco Hotel in Nice, on French territory.
The court decided there was no basis for the case to go forward.
In June last year a Swiss federal court acquitted Al-Khelaifi on appeal of corruption in the attribution of World Cup TV rights.
FIFA’s former secretary general Jerome Valcke was also acquitted of the same charges.
Al-Khelaifi had been charged with inciting Valcke to commit “aggravated criminal mismanagement”.
Valcke, who until 2015 was the right-hand man of now ousted FIFA president Sepp Blatter, faced the bulk of the charges linked to two separate cases of television rights corruption.
The Frenchman stood accused of wanting to transfer the Middle East and North Africa rights for screening the 2026 and 2030 World Cups to beIN Media, in exchange for “unwarranted benefits” from Al-Khelaifi.