If there’s one realm of sports more openly corrupt than soccer, it is international athletics competition. Further proof of this well-known fact comes from France, where reports today say Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi has been charged with “active corruption” for allegedly bribing a member of the International Association of Athletics Federation to bring its marquee event, the World Championship in Athletics, to Qatar.
According to an Associated Press report summarizing the charges, in November of 2011, days before the vote to determine which nation would host the 2017 championships, a firm called Oryx Qatar Sports Investment made two payments totaling $3.5 million to Pamodzi Sports Marketing. Oryx is co-owned by Al-Khelaifi and his brother, Khalid. while Pamodzi is owned by Papa Massata Diack, son of Lamine Diack, who was president of the IAAF from 1999 to 2015. The IAAF eventually awarded the 2017 games to London, though Qatar later won the rights to host the 2019 edition, which are scheduled to begin this fall.
Though the Al-Khelaifi brothers currently own Oryx together, Nasser, through his lawyer, has denied being involved in the company at the time of the payments: “Nasser Al-Khelaifi was neither a shareholder, nor a director of Oryx in 2011. He did not intervene either directly or indirectly in the candidature of Doha.” French authorities charged Lamine Diack with “passive corruption” in this case back in March, and there’s a pending arrest warrant for his son, as well. PSG board member and BeIn Sports CEO Yousef Al-Obaidly was also charged over the 2011 payments.
This latest case is the second of the sports corruption-related charges the PSG president currently faces. Al-Khelaifi is still under investigation by Swiss authorities who suspect him of bribing disgraced former FIFA secretary general Jérôme Valcke by granting him free use of a luxury Italian villa for nine years in an exchange for Valcke awarding BeIn TV broadcast rights to the 2026 and 2030 World Cups.
PSG fans must be frustrated to learn how much better Al-Khelaifi is at buying international games and TV rights than he is at buying PSG that European Cup they’re so desperately after. Though no one can say he hasn’t tried.