UEFA’s Platini Meets French Lawmakers on Soccer Finance Measures

Photographer: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images

Paris Saint-Germain's Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic reacts during a match against Ajaccio in Paris on Jan. 11, 2013. Close

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Photographer: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images

Paris Saint-Germain's Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic reacts during a match against Ajaccio in Paris on Jan. 11, 2013.

Michel Platini, president of European soccer’s governing body, met with French politicians yesterday as they seek to introduce controls that may curb Qatari-owned Paris Saint-Germain’s record spending on players.

Platini, who heads Nyon, Switzerland-based UEFA, was invited by parliamentarians at France’s National Assembly to explain how his organization crafted its own rules that seek to punish teams playing in elite competitions if they breach cost- control regulations.

French teams are licensed by an independent body called the Direction Nationale du Controle de Gestion, or DNCG, which examines professional clubs’ finances before granting them permission to play. Its regulations don’t as yet include break- even rules that UEFA instituted in 2011 to combat soaring losses in club soccer, though the possibility is being investigated.

“The president was at the parliament this morning,” UEFA spokesman Thomas Giordano said in an interview. “The French parliament started an inquiry to see what could be done and if they can amend the regulations.”

Losses at European teams have grown from 700 million euros ($930 million) in 2008 to 1.7 billion euros in 2011, according to UEFA. Parliamentarians in France have been raising concerns about soccer finances since a unit of the state-controlled Qatar Investment Authority took control of Paris Saint-Germain in 2011.

Since then the club, which won its last domestic league title in 1994, has spent more on talent than any other European team. Coveted attackers such as Sweden’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Argentine duo Javier Pastore and Ezequiel Lavezzi have been signed in a 250 million-euro spending spree.

Yann Guerin, a PSG spokesman, didn’t immediately respond to a call seeking comment.

‘Unfair’

The team’s president Nasser Al-Khelaifi told French sports newspaper L’Equipe earlier this month that he isn’t planning to stop spending.

“We will keep on investing,” he said. “It’s necessary to become one of the great European clubs. Other clubs have invested for 20 years. We have been there for a year and a half and now we must stop pouring money? It would be unfair.”

UEFA’s proposals could result in clubs being excluded from the Champions League and Europa League if they don’t live within their means.

While the discussions remain at a preliminary stage in France, soccer’s richest league is moving closer to introducing a type of fiscal control: Executives from the English Premier League’s 20 teams will meet next month and may put in place their own measures if 14 of the member clubs agree.

Gill’s Pledge

Manchester United’s Chief Executive Officer David Gill told reporters yesterday that UEFA’s break-even regulations -- as well as a proposal by northeast club Sunderland to limit annual wage increases -- would both have to be adopted following a “yes” vote. In December, United co-signed a letter along with Liverpool, Tottenham and Arsenal promoting UEFA’s model.

“On wage-cost protocol it’s a ‘quid pro quo,”’ Gill said. “If they get that we will want the other. In my opinion it’s a joint program.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Tariq Panja in London at tpanja@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net

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