Al-Khelaifi's role on UEFA ruling body defended by Agnelli

September 10, 2019

GENEVA (AP) — Under investigation in French and Swiss criminal investigations, the president of Paris Saint-Germain was praised Tuesday as a "tremendous professional" by UEFA executive committee colleague Andrea Agnelli.

Nasser Al-Khelaifi and Agnelli, the European Club Association chairman, have four-year terms to represent clubs on the European soccer body's ruling panel.

Speaking after the first ECA meeting since both were renewed last month, Agnelli described Al-Khelaifi as "knowledgeable, competent, a professional."

"Why not him?" Agnelli said. "We live in a world (where) we are innocent unless proven guilty."


Swiss federal prosecutors opened a criminal proceeding against Al-Khelaifi in 2017 for suspected bribery of a FIFA official before Qatar-based beIN Sports got renewed World Cup broadcast rights for the 2026 and 2030 tournaments.

Since Al-Khelaifi joined UEFA's decision-making body in February, French prosecutors filed a preliminary charge of "active corruption" regarding payments linked to Qatar's bids to host the 2017 and 2019 track world championships.

The Qatari executive has not been charged and denies wrongdoing. He continues to run French champion PSG.

Agnelli said other ECA officials were eligible for the UEFA seat "but we collectively as a board converged on the name of Nasser. He's a tremendous professional."