NYT against UEFA and PSG: “Cover up the investigation into Al Khelaifi, there is a huge conflict of interest”

It was one of the most beautiful matches of the last Champions League, that of the Santiago Bernabeu between Real Madrid and Paris Saint Germain. The French seemed to have the situation under control, but then a mistake by Donnarumma (which the Parisians have always branded as a Benzema foul) started the winning comeback of Ancelotti’s team and postponed the dreams of glory for the umpteenth time. club of president Nasser Al Khelaifi. Beautiful race, but electric final: the same Al Khelaifi and the then ds Leonardo faced hard-nosed Dutch referee Danny Makkelie. All reconstructed by the New York Times, which complains about the lack of measures against the Qatari executive despite the referee’s report that he and Leonardo showed “aggressive behavior, trying to get into the referee’s locker room, blocking the door and deliberately hitting the flag of one of the assistants, breaking it”.

Within 24 hours of the incident, UEFA announced that it had opened a disciplinary investigation, then nothing more. At least until June, when at the end of the season, the highest European organization declared that it would have disqualified Leonardo, who had already left the club, for having violated “the basic rules of dignified conduct”. Nothing on Al Khelaifi.

According to Alex Phillips, a UEFA manager for almost two decades, “They would have waited to find a quiet moment to cover up everything and hope that people would forget it.” “The so-called independent judicial bodies – according to Phillips – are not at all but they are used as an instrument of power”. Not surprisingly, in a difficult moment for UEFA, the launch of the Super League – which later failed – would have strengthened a lot of relations between President Ceferin and Al Khelaifi after the latter had sided against the project.

A rewarding effort, according to the NYT. Al Khelaifi was soon named president of the influential European Club Association, an umbrella group of over 200 top clubs that is UEFA’s joint venture partner for the sale of rights to the Champions League and two other club competitions – and of which beIN Sports is one of the largest customers. “There is a clear conflict of interest”, said Miguel Maduro, former chairman of the commission on governance, an internal body of FIFA wanted by the president Gianni Infantino in the wake of the scandals that engulfed the federation in 2015. “No one who has interests economic in terms of relations with UEFA should be part of his council. “According to his thesis, UEFA’s actions have” created suspicion “and the PSG” operates according to a different set of rules “, describing the outcome of the case of financial fair play in 2018 as “unbelievable”.

Phillips, for his part, said he once tried to prevent Al Khelaifi’s elevation to the UEFA executive committee, but found little support among his peers. “You have a conflict of interest article in the statutes,” Phillips told staff members. “You insert it, why don’t you apply it?”. President Ceferin glossed over even insisting that Al Khelaifi, a Qatari who is a close confidant and occasional tennis partner of the ruler of the Gulf country, remained on his board despite a corruption case in Switzerland (from which was acquitted earlier this year).

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