Tebas calls for European Union probe into Neymar transfer
Javier Tebas, president of the Spanish La Liga speaking at Soccerex. Photo: Jan Kruger/Getty Images for Soccerex
06.09.2017By Steve Menary
Javier Tebas, the president of Spain’s La Liga, has called on the European Union to investigate the controversial transfer of Neymar from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain (PSG).
The Spanish league claims the transfer breaches UEFA’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules and represents ‘financial doping’ – the injections of large sums of money from the rich owners of large clubs, and Tebas has launched a typically outspoken attack.
“I understand that UEFA has said for now they will not investigate but not never. We think that UEFA need to investigate and so do other institutions like the European Union that this is not breaking the rules,” said Tebas at the annual Soccerex Global Convention in Manchester, England.
In a dig at PSG’s Qatari owners, Tebas claimed that the £198 million paid to Barcelona for Neymar was ‘the gas market price not the football price’.
He added: “What we can see after this summer, they are laughing at the system. With Neymar going to PSG we have caught them peeing in the bed or the swimming pool. Neymar has gone on to the diving board and peed in the swimming pool.
“I invited the president of PSG to talk about financial doping and said we are going to take you to court. What did he say to me? He said: ‘I thought you were my friend’.
“It’s not like I don’t like PSG but if Neymar went to Manchester United they have the money to pay for the player. When the income comes into the market, there is inflation in transfer fees and wages. We have seen that this summer,” Tebas said.
Research just published by CIES has shown that transfer fees paid so far in 2017 by the big five leagues of England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain has risen by 41% on last year to a record €5.9 billion
Tebas warned that unless financial doping is stopped, the triple-down effect will ‘destructure’ European football at all levels and disclosed that La Liga had been comparing the accounts of the big European clubs that shows evidence of FFP breaches.
Tebas said: “We have been studying the accounts of the different clubs for some time, including PSG and Manchester City … to see what income they are having from tickets, summers tours, who is sponsoring them at home and abroad.
“We carried out the study analysing the various income streams and PSG has more sponsorship than Manchester United. That is impossible. That is financial doping.
“This is damaging football. The other clubs like Bayern Munich and Juventus to compete will need more money so they will say give me more money for TV rights or else Manchester City will take everything.
“We need to carry out an analysis of football these last few seasons and do something,” said Tebas, adding: “It is not just that Barcelona has lost a player. The whole world is being destructured.”
Tebas also said that the Champions League format would need to change in the next cycle from 2021 to 2024.
“It is not working,” said Tebas. “The small to medium-sized leagues need help to grow, otherwise we will see the gap between the small and big clubs grow.
“If we didn’t have humanitarian aid in Africa, the gap between the big and small countries would grow. If we don’t do something, this will happen in football.”
The La Liga president Tebas also told the audience in Manchester that La Liga had spent €30 million on a new Microsoft platform to harvest big data from social media and sent staff to 50 different countries as part of the competition’s global expansion plans.
“You need to be there and use your shoe leather,” said Tebas, who explained that La Liga’s main strategy was still to usurp the English Premier League as the most popular club football competition. He added: If we are to grow, we need to grow digitally.”
For all his attacks on the oil rich clubs, Tebas still wants La Liga to be bigger than any other league in the world.
Neither Paris Saint-Germain nor Neymar have responded to the statements from Tebas.
Updated 7 September:
Following Tebas' statements about what he labelled 'financial doping' in Manchester City and PSG, the British club's owners now consider legal action.
"Mr Tebas' statements are ill-informed and in parts pure fiction," the City Football Group said, according to the BBC.
"As you would expect, Manchester City Football Club and the City Football Group are seeking appropriate legal counsel and will act accordingly on that advice."
Tebas also met critisism from his French counterpart.
"The league (LPF) strongly condemns the insulting comments regarding PSG made today (6 September) by the president of La Liga," the French league (LFP) said in a statement, the BBC writes.
"These undignified comments do not live up to the standards of an institution as respectable and high-performing as the Spanish league."
Steve Menary is covering the Soccerex Global Convention 2017 for Play the Game.