Nasser Al-Khelaïfi does not drag on in Paris at the moment. As if the air of the capital did not benefit him. After attending the PSG Foundation Gala on Wednesday night, the PSG president immediately returned to Doha, Qatar, on Thursday morning, where a new strategic meeting on the future of the club is scheduled to take place.
2019, which began with the death of his mother in January, is definitely a dark year for Nasser Al-Khelaïfi. Neymar's injury, the defeats in the Champions League and the final of the Coupe de France, the moods of each other and the recurring critics are all blows that have marked much.
His management is a source of debate and his silence maintains the image of a distant leader, who would ultimately have little control over the daily life of his club. A conclusion a bit hasty. If "NAK" has indeed taken a step back in the media, this is largely due to the investigation of Renaud Van Ruymbeke. The same investigation that now earned him to be indicted for "active corruption", as revealed by Le Parisien on Thursday.
The investigating judge at the Paris Court's financial center suspects him of having "validated" a payment of 3.5 million dollars (3.1 million euros) in favor of Lamine Diack, the former president of the International Athletics Federation (IAAF) to facilitate the World Athletics Championships in Doha in 2017. "Totally inaccurate claims," according to Francis Szpiner, Nasser Al-Khelaïfi's lawyer.
He considers himself the victim of an injustice
His indictment is a new disappointment that he has a hard time cashing, considering himself the victim of a real injustice. Deeply hurt according to his family, a little weary, the boss of the PSG since 2011 does not yet consider a second to throw in the towel. It has no choice in fact: in Qatar, when the emir entrusts you with a mission and gives you his trust, you simply do not have the right to give up.
In fact, the real question is what spell Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani will reserve for him. For the moment, an impeachment is absolutely not envisaged. Because the president of PSG keeps a very high coast in Doha. Boss with multiple caps (BeIN Group, Miramax, Qatar Tennis Federation), it is considered one of the emblems of the international success of the emirate.
In addition, the Qatari power is blocking around the president of the PSG and the suspicions of Judge Van Ruymbeke are welcomed as a distrust, even provocation, vis-à-vis the entire emirate. "In Doha, they are not worried, they are in support of Nasser at 1000% and think it will come out whitened," says a collaborator of the Qatari power.
Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and Nasser Al-Khelaïfi, in 2015, at the Parc des Princes. / LP / Arnaud Journois
Under these conditions, it would be very surprising that the emir does not maintain his trust in his friend of thirty years. The ties between the two men have never wavered and Nasser is one of the few people to have direct contact with the ruler.
A key man of soft power
Their friendship was born on the tennis courts. Devoted body and soul, Nasser Al-Khelaïfi owes all his ascension to the emir who successively appointed him at the head of Al-Jazeera Sport, QSI, then PSG. Hard worker, "NAK" knows how to surround himself and is extremely demanding with all his collaborators. Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani is just how much Al-Khelaïfi is a key man in Qatar's soft power policy.
Will Nasser Al-Khelaïfi remain president of the PSG while he is indicted?
The Emir should be visiting Paris in the coming days. This will undoubtedly be an opportunity to comfort Nasser Al-Khelaïfi by showing their complicity in the stands of Roland-Garros, as they have become accustomed to in recent years.