UEFA helped Paris Saint-Germain get around their own Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules, and according to a Football Leaks investigation published this weekend.
It has also been alleged that former French President Nicolas Sarkozy promised Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani that then UEFA president Michel Platini would back the Gulf state’s bid to host the 2022 World Cup on condition of Doha buying PSG and launch BeIN Sports channel in France.
The leaks form part of a treasure trove of allegations that further undermine the credibility of the FIFA boss Gianni Infantino, who promised to clean up football’s governing body on taking over from the discredited Sepp Blatter, and the decision to award the 2022 hosting rights to Qatar.
Among the allegations it is said that Infantino, as UEFA secretary general, allowed PSG to operate with impunity regarding FFP, the body dishing out only minor penalties for violations to the Qatar-owned club, falling way short of the most severe penalty that could have been thrown at them — expulsion from the Champions League.
Infantino — despite an obligation to strict neutrality — reportedly met for secret negotiations with club bosses PSG and Manchester City, the Abu Dhabi-owned club also accused of FFP violations.
FIFA boss Gianni Infantino has once again been thrust into the spotlight over his role in FFP punishments dished out to PSG.
Football Leaks claims that between them Qatar and Abu Dhabi have injected some €4.5 billion ($5.1 billion) over the past seven years to increase the budgets of the clubs they own.
Of that figure, €2.7 billion has been invested in City via their Abu-Dhabi owners and from allegedly “overestimated” sponsorship deals.
Football Leaks points the finger at PSG’s five-year agreement with the Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA), valued at €1.075 ($1.22 billion), or €215 million a year.
That is despite the investigation claiming that “two independent auditors assigned by UEFA valued the contract at … €123,000 per year for one, and €2.8 million a year for the other.”
UEFA rules say clubs cannot spend more than they earn in any given season and deficits must fall within a €30 million limit over three seasons.
Both PSG and City were fined €60 million by UEFA in May 2014, but both were told they would get €40 million back if they stuck to the terms of their settlement. This bypassed the Financial Control Panel of European football’s governing body. Infantino’s proposal, it is reported, was for a “fine of €20 million instead of €60 (million).”
FIFA have blasted the claims as an attempt to “undermine the leadership” of the global body.
French former president Nicolas Sarkozy (R) speaks with the president and head of Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) and president of the PSG Nasser al-Khelaifi. The relationship between Sarkozy and Qatar has once again been questioned in relation to the shock decision to award the Gulf state the 2022 World Cup.
“It seems obvious from the ‘reporting’ carried out in some media outlets that there is only one particular aim — an attempt to undermine the new leadership of FIFA and, in particular, the president, Gianni Infantino, and the secretary general, Fatma Samoura,” football’s governing body said in a statement.
The under fire Infantino added: “It is always a challenge to change things, to move forward, and to bring people together in order to do things better.
“And, as we are resolutely implementing the reforms at FIFA, it was always clear to me that I would face strong opposition, especially from those who cannot anymore shamelessly profit from the system they were part of.”
PSG have responded to the allegations by insisting they have “always strictly complied with all applicable laws and regulations and firmly denies the allegations published today by Mediapart.”
FIFA made no mention of the reported promise made by Sarkozy to Qatar regarding the World Cup, but it once again brings into question the decision to award the hosting of the tournament to the gulf state.
It has long been rumored that the sale of PSG to Qatar was part of a deal in which France would back the Doha bid for the 2022 tournament — something Sarkozy and then UEFA president Michel Platini have always denied.
But since the shock announcement that Qatar would be hosting the 2022 event, allegations of dirty deals and corruption have never been far away and the pressure to see the World Cup played somewhere else will likely only increase.