[QODLink]
Football

European Union investigates Spanish clubs

Commissioner looks into whether Barcelona, Real Madrid and five others get help from taxpayers' money.

Last updated: 18 Dec 2013 16:23
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback

The European Union has opened legal proceedings into whether Real Madrid, Barcelona and five other Spanish clubs get an unfair edge from illegal state aid.

EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said that clubs should use sound financial management rather than live "at the expense of the taxpayer."

Almunia's office must make sure businesses across the 28-country EU face a level playing field. The probe is intended to see if teams like Barca and Real have been relying on illegal aid to face other Spanish clubs, and European teams like Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

The Commission has concerns that these measures provided significant advantages to the beneficiary clubs to the detriment of the clubs which have to operate without such support.

Statement by the European Commission for Competition

Beyond the top two teams, the probe centers on Valencia, Hercules, Elche, Athletic Bilbao and Osasuna.

The Spanish government, who knew the probe was coming, has already said there was nothing illegal about the aid the clubs received.

Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo said the government would "give battle until the end to defend Spanish clubs."

La Liga is one of the toughest professional leagues in the world and any EU decision could have a deep impact on its future.

The investigation may take several months and any decision could then be challenged at the EU's highest court in Luxembourg.

Many Spanish league clubs already face financial difficulties. A decision to force them to return money could make their problems even more acute.

"The Commission has concerns that these measures provided significant advantages to the beneficiary clubs to the detriment of the clubs which have to operate without such support,'' the Commission said in a statement.

No financial figures were immediately available but the objections the EU was looking into centre on how clubs and local authorities handled fiscal issues such as loan guarantees, land prices and real estate.

The Spanish league has said in a statement that it "wants to publicly show its unconditional and absolute support for the clubs and affiliated managing institutions in general and those under investigation in particular."

381

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Featured
Spirits are high in Scotland's 'Whisky Capital of the World' with one distillery thirsty for independence.
President Poroshenko arrives in Washington on Thursday with money and military aid on his mind, analysts say.
Early players in private medicine often focused on volume over quality, turning many Chinese off for-profit care.
Al Jazeera asked people across Scotland what they think about the prospect of splitting from the United Kingdom.
Blogger critical of a lack of government transparency faces defamation lawsuit from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
join our mailing list