The president of Spain’s La Liga, Javier Tebas, has stepped up his criticism of Paris Saint-Germain as he pushed UEFA to kick teams out of the Champions League for breaching their Financial Fair Play rules.
UEFA opened an investigation into the Qatari-owned club’s spending in September 2017 under pressure from some of Europe’s footballing elite after they signed Neymar from Barcelona for a world-record 222 million euros ($264 million).
They then completed a deal to sign Kylian Mbappe from Monaco for 180 million euros just a few weeks later, and Tebas has been especially vocal in his criticism of PSG’s finances, while also targeting Abu Dhabi-owned Manchester City.
“UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules say that when you cheat with your budgets, you have to be thrown out of the competition,” Tebas said Tuesday during an interview in Paris with several media, including AFP.
PSG have never been barred from playing in the Champions League, although in late September UEFA said it had referred the accusations against the French giants to its financial unit “for further investigation”.
UEFA rules mandate that clubs cannot spend more than they earn in any given season and deficits must fall within a 30-million-euro limit over three seasons.
PSG’s case, though, is complicated by lucrative sponsorship deals with the Qatar National Bank and the Gulf state’s tourism authority. Tebas claims his faith in UEFA and FFP is wavering.
“I am sceptical. I have to have confidence just now. When this whole process ends, ask me again,” said the 56-year-old.
PSG ‘the most blatant’
Tebas has ignored the pleas of PSG president Nasser Al Khelaifi to stop his public criticism of the French champions and claims he is not simply trying to protect the interests of Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Both clubs, along with other traditional European giants, have been threatened by the emergence of PSG and City with their mega-rich Gulf owners.
“I want football to be economically balanced, so that there are no devious methods to becoming big, because this places football’s economic structure in danger,” he said.
“In this case I am defending the interests of professional football in Europe.
“UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules are there to be obeyed. We also denounced Manchester City and we are studying other clubs in Europe, not just PSG. The thing is that PSG have been the most blatant.”
He blames the two clubs for the continuing inflation of wages and transfer fees, with PSG’s deal for Neymar more than double the world record at the time – Manchester United bought Paul Pogba from Juventus for 105 million euros a year earlier.
“If players’ salaries and transfer fees go up because television rights have gone up, through money that has come into football, that is normal.
“Inflation is bad when the money doesn’t come from football, but from gas or oil.”
Meanwhile, Tebas says he is prepared to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) if his plans to stage a match in the United States are blocked.
“We will go to the CAS or the competent courts. We think we have the right legally and ethically,” he said.
His response came after FIFA president Gianni Infantino confirmed last week that world football’s governing body is opposed to La Liga’s plans to take the league game between Barcelona and Girona to Miami on January 26.
“Why can the NBA take official matches out of the USA, and go and play in London, and we cannot?
“We are talking about one match with the strategic motive of trying to grow and improve La Liga’s brand.”