Institutional | 9 FEB 2015

The Spanish and Portuguese Leagues denounce FIFA’s TPO ban to the European Commission

The complaint alleging the infringement of European Union competition rules could see FIFA incur a seven-figure penalty and result in clubs, players and third party owners being compensated.

The Liga de Fútbol Profesional (LFP) and the Liga Portuguesa de Futebol Profissional (LPFP) have contacted the European Commission of the Directorate General for Competition to denounce the resolution adopted by FIFA in December to prohibit third party ownership of football players, otherwise known as TPO ("Third Party Ownership").

The complaint outlines in detail that this ban violates the rules of competition set out by the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFUE), as well as the fundamental freedoms of establishment, services, labour and capital movements.

Under the European Union General Court, sporting associations like FIFA are considered economic operators for the purposes of applying competition rules, and as such their accords and internal rules must respect these rules.

The decision to ban TPO restricts the economic freedoms of clubs, players and third parties without any justification or proportionality. This ban harms clubs, especially those with fewer sources of income, preventing them from sharing the economic rights of their professional players with third parties, and forces them to manage their financial obligations more prudently. This ban also harms dozens of players whose professional careers have been helped along by people, coaches and third party funds. Lastly, this ban completely prohibits third parties from managing footballers' rights, a practice that has been carried out legitimately in the vast majority of the world’s professional leagues up until now.

This restriction on free competition infringes Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union about the prohibition of anti-competitive agreements, and Article 102 of the TFUE with regards to FIFA abusing their dominant position, as well as violating other fundamental EU liberties.

The LFP and the LPFP have faith that the European Commission will act swiftly, initiating the relevant disciplinary sanctions against FIFA and revoking the TPO ban. This revocation would allow all those in the EU affected by this accord to claim damages against FIFA. Official complaints and legal actions against the global TPO ban may extend to other countries outside the EU.

The Leagues reserve the right to bring further legal action against FIFA, including the possibility of presenting their grievances before a court.

The legal defence of the LFP and the Portuguese League is being put together by a large team of lawyers headed by Jean-Louis Dupont and Javier Berasategi, renowned legal experts with extensive experience in the field of European standards and competition.

© LaLiga - Year 2015