BERN, Switzerland (AP) — Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi, a Qatari soccer and television executive, was questioned Wednesday by Swiss investigators who say he bribed a FIFA official in a World Cup broadcasting rights deal.Al-Khelaifi met with Switzerland’s federal prosecutors two weeks after they revealed criminal proceedings against him. He denies wrongdoing and has not been charged.The interview was expected to last several hours because of issues with translation and “lots of questions” to be asked, said Andre Marty, the spokesman for the Swiss attorney general’s office.“The world of football needs to be patient as for the results of this first interrogation,” Marty said outside the federal building.Al-Khelaifi was not seen arriving for questioning, which began at 9:45 a.m. (0745 GMT).As CEO of beIN Media Group — formerly Al Jazeera Sports — Al-Khelaifi secured TV rights for four World Cups, including the 2022 tournament in Qatar, across the Middle East and North Africa.Al-Khelaifi and former FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke are suspected of bribery, fraud, criminal mismanagement and document forgery linked to a 2026-2030 rights deal.Key to the allegation is a luxury villa on the island of Sardinia that was seized two weeks ago.Italian financial police say Al-Khelaifi allowed Valcke to use the property in Porto Cervo, which was valued at 7 million euros ($8.3 million). Italian police said the villa is officially owned by an international real estate company, and they questioned eight people.Properties were searched on Oct. 12 in France, Greece, Italy, and Spain, including beIN’s offices in Paris, while Valcke was questioned in Switzerland. He is already the subject of a separate Swiss criminal proceeding in a sprawling probe of suspected corruption linked to FIFA, international soccer leaders and World Cup hosting bids.Al-Khelaifi’s case is one of the most direct links to Qatar announced by federal law enforcement agencies in Switzerland, the United States, and France, who are cooperating on separate but linked investigations.The 43-year-old Al-Khelaifi is a close friend of Qatar’s Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. He was appointed to run PSG when it was bought by a Qatar sovereign wealth fund within months of FIFA picking Qatar as a World Cup host in December 2010.PSG is not publicly implicated in the Swiss case.Al-Khelaifi risks an interim ban from soccer duty by the FIFA ethics committee while investigations continue. FIFA has said its ethics investigators are making preliminary inquiries though no formal case has been opened.Swiss prosecutors have been investigating FIFA and suspected money laundering linked to the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosting contests since November 2014.Criminal proceedings for suspected financial wrongdoing were first opened last year against Valcke, months after his emails were among evidence seized from FIFA. The former TV presenter from France was the CEO-like top official under then-FIFA president Sepp Blatter for more than eight years until he was fired in January 2016.The separate proceeding against Al-Khelaifi and Valcke was opened in March. It was revealed only this month, one day after Valcke returned to Switzerland to testify at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in his appeal against a 10-year ban by FIFA.The latest case also involves a third suspect — a “businessman in the sports rights sector” who has not been identified by Swiss prosecutors. That relates to giving Valcke “undue advantages” for the awarding of World Cup broadcast deals from 2018 through 2030.Since the case against Al-Khelaifi was formally opened, his profile rose as PSG pursued and completed a world record transfer for Brazil striker Neymar from Barcelona for 222 million euros ($260 million).PSG leads the French league and is looking for its first Champions League title. Al-Khelaifi has attended the team’s games, in France and Belgium, since he was made a criminal suspect and consented to be interviewed in the Swiss capital.GRAHAM DUNBAR, AP Sports WriterTweetPinShare0 Shares
World No.8 Kidambi Srikanth bowed out of the Japan Open after losing to world No.33 Lee Dong Keun of Korea on Friday.Srikanth shock loss 1-2 to the Korean at the quarter-finals stage brings and end to India’s campaign at the Japan Open.The seventh seeded Srikanth started the game on a positive note and took the first game 21-19 after a brave fight from the Korean. In the second game, Dong came back stronger and took the lead in the mid-game break at 11-5. Srikanth did try to make a comeback but it failed flat as the Korean took the second game 21-16.In the third and deciding game, Dong again looked the stronger player and took a 6-4 lead after 10 points were played but Srikanth rallied on and levelled it at 9-9 but failed to take the lead in the mid-game break. From there, it was neck-to-neck competition until 15-15 but the Korean took two points straight and made it 17-5. The pressure mounted on Srikanth and he couldn’t make a comeback and ultimately lost the game 18-21 and crashed out of the tournament.The loss could well affect Srikanth’s rankings in the next cycle. He retained his eighth spot in the BWF rankings released on Thursday despite his early exit at the Asian Games.On Thursday, PV Sindhu and HS Prannoy were knocked out of the Japan Open in the round of 16 after losing in straight games.Sindhu lost 18-21, 19-21 to world No.14 Gao Fangjie of China, while Prannoy lost to world No.10 Anthony Ginting of Indonesia 14-21, 17-21.advertisementGinting had defeated formidable Japanese Kento Momota and Olympic champion Chen Long at the Asian Games.Sindhu was seeded third, and had easily won her first round match against world No.13 Sayaka Takahashi 21-17, 7-21, 21-13 on Wednesday. Incidentally Sindhu had played Gao only once previously, where she lost in straight games (21-11, 21-10) at the China Open.The Indian put up a decent fight as she recovered from 2-8 down in the opening game but squandered a 17-14 lead. She was also 15-20 down in the second game but managed to save four match points before once again hitting the net to hand over the match to Gao.In doubles, the men’s pair of Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy lost 18-21 21-16 12-21 to China’s He Jiting and Tan Qiang, while the mixed combination of Pranaav Jerry Chopra and N Sikki Reddy lost 16-21 16-21 to the Malaysian pair of Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying in another match.In women’s singles, Gao relied on her deception to trouble Sindhu early on and took a 8-2 lead. But Sindhu slowly got her bearings, reaching the shuttles early and placing them perfectly.She put Gao on the wrong foot to narrow the lead to 8-10 but a weak return going to the net gave a three-point advantage to the Chinese.Two unforced errors by Gao brought Sindhu back at 13-13. She grabbed a 17-14 lead but it soon vaporised with the Indian committing a few errors.In the second game, Sindhu opened up a 5-0 lead before committing a service error. Gao soon dominated the rallies and clawed back at 7-7 after producing a winner on Sindhu’s weak return.Gao continued to dominate the rallies and soon grabbed five match points at 20-15. Sindhu saved four before hitting the net again to end her campaign.
zoomImage Courtesy: ABB Technology company ABB and Helsinki City Transport took the next step in autonomous shipping as Ice-class passenger ferry Suomenlinna II was remotely piloted through test area near Helsinki harbor.In the remote trial, the world’s first for an existing passenger ferry, ABB tested the enhancement of ship operations with technologies that are already available for nearly any kind of vessel.“We are excited about the potential impact of this test on the future of the maritime industry. Advanced automation solutions from ABB are making the previously impossible possible for a wide range of sectors, including shipping, which is actively searching for technologies that can rapidly deliver more efficiency and better safety,” Peter Terwiesch, the President of ABB’s Industrial Automation division, said.“Autonomous does not mean unmanned. As vessels become more electric, digital and connected than ever before, ABB is able to equip seafarers with existing solutions that augment their skillsets. In this way, we are enhancing the overall safety of marine operations,” Juha Koskela, Managing Director at ABB’s Marine & Ports unit, commented.Suomenlinna II was retrofitted with ABB’s new dynamic positioning system and steered from a control center in Helsinki. The ship voyages from Helsinki to Suomenlinna fortress. For the remote piloting trial, the ferry departed from Helsinki’s market square, Kauppatori, and Captain Heinonen wirelessly operated Suomenlinna II with ABB Ability Marine Pilot Control through a pre-selected area of Helsinki harbor.Video Courtesy: ABBSpeaking after the voyage, Captain Lasse Heinonen said: “The progress we have made with the remote trial has been remarkable. I believe we are on the right track to exploring further possibilities of this technology as we move forward.”The trial is said to represent a crucial step toward increasing the maritime industry’s acceptance of autonomous operation systems. Autonomous solutions are expected to transform international shipping in the coming decades as the industry recovers from the downturn caused by the 2008 financial crisis.The trial took place during the vessel’s off hours, away from shore with no passengers aboard, in an area free of other vessels. While it is now equipped with the new dynamic positioning system, the vessel will continue to operate via a set of conventional onboard controls, with the remote mode deployed during the trial only. Research and development will continue with the ferry and her crew.Suomenlinna II, originally built in 2004, is fitted with ABB’s icebreaking electric propulsion system. Additionally, the ferry was retrofitted with ABB Ability Marine Pilot Vision situational awareness solution in 2017. Suomenlinna II operates year-round, undisturbed by the harsh winter conditions that affect all other modes of transport in the Helsinki region.