Former FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke and the chairman of Qatar-based media group BeIN Sports, Nasser Al-Khelaifi, went on trial in Switzerland on Monday.
Both men were docked over the award of television rights for the World Cup and Confederations Cup.
The 59-year-old Valcke, already banned by FIFA’s ethics committee for 10 years for ethics violations, has been charged with accepting bribes, aggravated criminal mismanagement and falsification of documents.
Al-Khelaifi, who is also president of French champions Paris St-Germain (PSG) and a former Davis Cup tennis player for Qatar, has been charged with inciting Valcke to commit aggravated criminal mismanagement.
The 46-year-old Al-Khelaifi, who also sits on the executive committee of European football body UEFA, is regarded as one of the most powerful men in European football.
Both men, who were present in court, deny wrongdoing and Al-Khelaifi’s lawyers have said that the majority of the case does not apply to their client.
The trial in Switzerland, which is where FIFA is based, is expected to last until Sept. 25.
The three federal judges are expected to deliver a verdict by the end of October.
The Swiss attorney general’s office has alleged that between 2013 and 2015 Valcke exploited his FIFA role to influence some deals “to favour media partners that he preferred”.
This is the award of media rights for various World Cup and Confederations Cup tournaments.
Valcke also received exclusive use of a villa belonging to Al-Khelaifi in Sardinia for 18 months, it said.
He made use of the property without having to pay a rent estimated at between 900,000 euros (1.07 million dollars) and 1.8 million euros (2.13 million dollars).
Valcke, 59, was secretary general of world football’s ruling body for eight years until 2015, overseeing the organisation of the World Cup in South Africa in 2010 and Brazil in 2014.
Swiss prosecutors have been investigating corruption surrounding FIFA since 2015, when the global football body became embroiled in the worst corruption scandal in its history.
The scandal led to its President Sepp Blatter and UEFA President Michel Platini being banned from the sport, while several dozen officials were indicted in the United States on corruption-related charges.
Edited By: Olawale Alabi)
Bavarian premier warns of risk of mass infection at UEFA Super Cup
Bavarian Premier Markus Soeder on Monday urged Bayern Munich fans not to travel to the UEFA Super Cup match against Sevilla in Budapest this week.
Soeder said such travel heightens the risk of turning the event into a hotbed for COVID-19 to spread.
“My stomach hurts thinking about the Super Cup. Budapest is a risk area.
“We have to be very careful that we don’t risk turning it into a football-Ischgl,” the premier said.
Thousands of people were infected with the virus at the Austrian winter resort of Ischgl earlier this year.
This happened as the virus found a breeding ground in crowded apres-ski bars early on in the outbreak.
Soeder said should several thousand Bavarians travel to Hungary, then they should go into quarantine upon their return.
Hungary is seeing a rise in cases.
A decision on tighter health measures will be taken on Tuesday.
“My appeal will be to think about it again and see if this is really necessary.
Edited By: Olawale Alabi)
Italy to host Netherlands in Bergamo in honour of COVID-19 victims
Italy will play next month’s UEFA Nations League home match against The Netherlands in Bergamo to honour the town that was severely hit by the coronavirus pandemic earlier in the year.
Besides remembering the people who died in Bergamo, the Italian football federation (FIGC) said on Monday the match was relocated from Milan’s Giuseppe Meazza to the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia.
It added that the Oct. 14 match would take place behind closed doors.
“The Azzurri, who will be in Bergamo from Oct. 12 onwards, will pay homage to the city, while adhering to all the necessary sanitary protocols,” FIGC said.
Bergamo and its province, which lies east of Milan, reported thousands of cases when the pandemic peaked in northern Italy during March and April.
Coronavirus deaths have since considerably dropped in the country, where more than 35,000 casualties have been reported.
The Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia has recently been renovated to host Atalanta’s UEFA Champions League games.
Italy last played in Bergamo in 2006.
Italy will play a friendly against Moldova in Florence on Oct. 7, a match originally scheduled to take place in Parma.
Four days later, the national team will visit Poland in Danzig for the third round of the Nations League.
Italy are top in Group A1 of the competition’s top tier.
Edited By: Olawale Alabi)
Gov. Bagudu lays foundation of $1.19m first FIFA stadium in Nigeria
Gov. Abubakar Atiku-Bagudu of Kebbi on Monday, laid the foundation of Nigeria’s first FIFA mini stadium in Birnin Kebbi.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the facility will initially have 267 seats and can be expanded to accommodate 6,000 fans.
It is being constructed through the Goal Project.
Contract for the stadium construction, expected to be completed in six months, was awarded to ARON Nig. Ltd at the cost of $1.19 million.
The foundation for the project located on Kalgo Road in Birnin Kebbi. was laid by the governor, supported by executive members of Nigeri Football Federation (NFF).
Gov. Abubakar Atiku-Bagudu of Kebbi State speaking at the foundation laying ceremony of $1.19 million FIFA mini stadium in Birnin Kebbi on Monday
He noted that sports remained an indispensable tool for development of society, adding that society would only progress if reward and performance were encouraged.
According to him, human beings are all equal but only those who work hard flourish.
Bagudu charged youth in the state to take advantage of the facility to excel.
Gov. Abubakar Atiku-Bagudu of Kebbi State laying the foundation of $1.19 million FIFA mini stadium in Birnin Kebbi on Monday
Pinnick, who was represented by the NFF Chairman of Chairmen, Alhaji Ibrahim Musa-Gusau, said: “We want to appreciate FIFA, especially their officials who collaborated with the Nigeria Football Federation on this project.
“They actually collaborated with us from conception, and for finally giving the go-ahead for it after due diligence had been done and in line with extant best practices.
“When the General Secretary of NFF, Dr Mohammed Sanusi, mooted the idea of this project during one of our meetings in Asaba in 2018, he presented to the board a sound argument.
“I must also give kudos to the board for graciously approving his request.
He lauded Gov. Bagudu for his robust support for the project from the onset, including the gracious approval of the strategic massive space on which the project would be built.
Dr Mohammed Sanusi, NFF General Secretary said he wouldn’t have become what he became without the support he received from Kebbi.
He recalled that the project was a child of the campaign promises of the present FIFA President, who promised to develop sports from the grassroots.
“When he won the election, Gianni Infantino doubled the money meant for member states. This project has the capacity to accommodate 267 people but can be extended to 6,000.
“It is expected to be completed in six month. We hope to commission it by end of March next year and the total cost of the project is $1,189,470,” he said.
Earlier, Abubakar Cika-Ladan, FA Cairman in Kebbi, said that the stadium was the first of its kind in Nigeria.
While appreciating the state government for its keen interest in the project, the chairman recalled that the government had paid N19 million compensation to land owners.
He said the facility wouldn’t have come at a better time than now in view of the concern Gov. Bagudu has for sports especially football.
Cika-Ladan said Kebbi is well known in beach soccer, recalling that its contingent won the national and continental beach soccer trophy, and represented Africa at the World Cup, where it came second.
Edited By: Kamal Tayo Oropo/Maharazu Ahmed
53 security personnel forces killed as violence escalates in Afghanistan
At least 53 members of the Afghan security forces were killed in overnight attacks by the Taliban in five provinces, officials said on Monday.
A further 51 were wounded in the clashes that occurred in the Afghan provinces of Uruzgan, Takhar, Kapisa, Maidan Wardak and Balkh, according to the officials.
The deadliest incident was in southern Uruzgan province, where more than two dozen Afghan security forces were killed, according to local media reports corroborated by a provincial councillor.
Meanwhile, the Interior Ministry said that 98 civilians were killed and 230 others were injured by violence throughout Afghanistan in the past two weeks.
The surge in attacks comes in spite of peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government in the Gulf state of Qatar and as the world observes International Day of Peace.
The United States envoy for Afghan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, who orchestrated the talks, called the escalation regrettable.
“Over the last few days, there has been a clear rise in violence in Afghanistan,’’ Khalilzad tweeted.
The Chairman of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation, Abdullah Abdullah, called on the Taliban to accept a ceasefire.
“Our homeland has been burning in war and conflict for more than 40 years and many lives have been lost in this endless war,’’ Abdullah said in a statement.
There is no doubt that people hate and are tired of the ongoing war and conflict in the country, he added.
Historic peace talks started on Sept. 12 in Doha, bringing together delegations from the warring sides for the first time in 19 years.
In spite of this, however, people in Afghanistan are killed every day.
Edited By: Fatima Sule/Abdulfatah Babatunde