Football Leaks claims UEFA helped Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City cover up massive Financial Fair Play violations in the form of inflated sponsorship deals.
The latest edition of the European Investigative Collaborations (EIC) expose as a result of leaked documentation makes remarkable allegations.
“European football association UEFA arranged secret settlements with Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain that allowed the clubs to cheat its own Financial Fair Play rules by hundreds of millions of euros, a new investigation by EIC Network can reveal.
“Senior UEFA administrators, including the ex-secretary general and current FIFA president, Gianni Infantino, personally intervened to encourage settlements with big clubs, while the Club Financial Control Body (CFCB), the UEFA department that investigates rule breaches, aggressively pursued poorer clubs in the likes of Turkey and Romania.”
This is of particular interest to a club such as Milan, which was excluded from the Europa League this season for FFP violations before winning an appeal for its reinstatement.
Their financial status remains under question and the same issues could be raised next summer.
“The new revelations are based on a batch of tens of millions of Football Leaks documents obtained by German weekly magazine Der Spiegel and shared with its partners in journalism network European Investigation Collaborations (EIC).
“The combined dataset contains more than 70 million documents, around 3.4 terabytes, and is the biggest journalistic data leak to date. Over the past eight months, around 80 journalists and technologists from 15 media partners have collaborated to document and expose illegal or secret deals across the football industry from this trove and other sources.
“But owners of several clubs have continued to supply excessive amounts to cover losses using highly inflated – and sometimes deceptive – sponsorship contracts, in a practice known as ‘financial doping’.
“This is the case of Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain. Man City is owned, since 2010, by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, brother of Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the de facto ruler of Abu Dhabi. PSG is owned by Qatar Sports Investments, which is backed by the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.
“When UEFA’s financial control body investigated both clubs’ sponsorship agreements it discovered that some ‘related parties’ were paying unprecedented amounts. The Qatar Tourism Authority furnished Paris Saint-Germain with between €700 million and €1.125 billion over a five-year period, according to the contract.
“The subsequent findings concluded that these deals were spectacularly inflated: The independent experts hired by UEFA stated that the contracts, worth around €200 million per year at the beginning, had a real value between €3 and €5 million: 40 to 60 times less.
“There was a similar story at Man City, albeit at a lower level. UEFA reported that Sheikh Mansour had “significant influence” over two of Man City’s Abu Dhabi sponsors, including the state investment fund Aabar, and that these contracts were inflated by at least three times the real market value.”
It also claims that Gianni Infantino, who was UEFA President until moving on to become President of FIFA in 2015, “stepped in to negotiate directly with clubs under investigation” and work out ‘secret settlements.’