"The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland has opened a criminal proceeding against the former Secretary General of Federation Internationale de Football Association and against the Chief Executive Officer of the BEIN MEDIA GROUP LLC [Al-Khelaifi] in connection with the award of World Cup media rights", an official statement read.
Al-Khelaifi, chief executive officer of the Qatari beIN Media Group and chairman of Ligue 1 leaders PSG, is suspected of giving "undue advantages" to Jerome Valcke, the former secretary general of global football governing body FIFA, in connection to media rights for the 2026 and 2030 World Cups.
BeIN Sports' office in Paris were searched on Thursday as part of a criminal probe against Valcke and Al-Khelaifi, according to French authorities.
Prosecutors claim that Valcke accepted the bribes from Al-Khelaifi with the intention of awarding media rights to "certain countries" for the World Cups due to be held in 2026 and 2030.
The criminal proceedings, in effect an investigation rather than charges, has been ongoing since March 20 this year, the OAG said, adding that collectively Khelaifi, Valcke and the unnamed businessman are suspected of bribery, fraud, criminal mismanagement and forgery of a document.
The investigation of Al-Khelaifi is the first direct link to Qatar, the host country for the 2022 World Cup, in investigations led by the United States, France and Switzerland into football corruption.
Valcke is now serving a 10-year suspension for his alleged involvement in a scheme to profit from World Cup ticket sales.
Valcke was FIFA's secretary general under then-president Sepp Blatter from 2007 until he was sacked in January 2016. This week the court of arbitration for sport in Lausanne commenced hearing Valcke's appeal against his ban by Fifa's ethics committee.