3rd Oct 2023

France urges EU action against England football clubs

  • Manchester United - English clubs dominate the European arena by outspending others, France says (Photo: Wikipedia)

France's sports minister, Bernard Laporte, warned on Thursday (27 November) that English football pre-eminence was getting out of hand and that Brussels needs to referee the situation.

"We see European competitions between participants of two or three nations," he told a two-day summit of EU sports ministers. "Where is the uncertainty in such a sporting contest?"

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English clubs have been in the last four finals of the UEFA Champions League, winning twice and runners up three times. Critics in France and in UEFA complain that lax financial rules in the UK allow teams to borrow heavily to attract more top players and to regularly increase salaries to keep them, while stricter regulation in other European jurisdictions prevents similar action.

The French EU presidency has complained this is unfair and that the EU - which has no mandate to legislate around sport - should step in and regulate.

"Certain things are out of hand and we cannot deal with them just on a national level," Mr Laporte said, according to reports from Bloomberg news.

Mr Laporte was due to unveil at the meeting French proposals for the establishment of a body at the European level modelled on France's national pro-sports regulator, the Direction Nationale du Controle de Gestion (DNCG), which oversees professional football in the country.

France has insisted it is not proposing a football super-regulator, just some form of EU-level oversight of sports clubs' financial accounts.

The French minister was backed in his thinking by European Commission sports commissioner Jan Figel.

"Sport does not and cannot exist outside EU law," said the commissioner. "We need to find legally sound solutions to confront problems. The commission stands ready [to step in]."

UEFA is understood to have earlier supported the French plans, but ahead of the meeting, the European football body's chief, Michel Platini, said he was opposed to an EU sporting "super-regulator."

In an interview with the BBC, Mr Platini said he was against government intervention in sport: "I don't want to interfere in the league of every country,"

"I don't want to interfere in the Ukrainian, Spanish, Italian, French, or English league competitions," he added. "We will try to find a good solution to say how we can have more transparency and more regulatory in the competition."


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