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Football clubs accuse Fifa of foul play

Clubs say stars like David Beckham play too many international matches Keystone

Switzerland’s Competition Commission has launched a preliminary investigation into world football’s governing body, Fifa, following a complaint by Europe’s top clubs.

This content was published on April 2, 2004 - 18:03

Teams such as Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Manchester United are angry at having to release players for international matches without receiving compensation.

The Brussels-based G-14 group of European clubs claims the football body is abusing its power in requiring players to compete in Fifa competitions for free.

It has asked the commission to examine whether the Zurich-based organisation is breaching Switzerland’s antitrust laws.

“The purpose of the preliminary investigation will be to show if there are any indications of an illicit restriction to competition by Fifa,” said the commission in a statement Friday.

If the commission determines there is reason to believe Fifa is abusing its dominant position, it will launch formal proceedings against the federation.

The preliminary investigation could take three to eight months, said officials. Fifa declined to comment on the antitrust case on Friday.

Compensation

The G-14 wants Fifa and European football’s governing body, Uefa, to compensate clubs for releasing players for major tournaments such as the World Cup and the European Championships.

Clubs, which pay the players’ huge salaries, say they want a share of the vast revenues generated by these tournaments.

They are also unhappy that players often come back fatigued, injured or both from major international competitions, and want a limit imposed on the number of games they have to play for their country.

Fifa does not recognise the G-14 group and refuses to negotiate with it. It says proceeds made at tournaments such as the World Cup are channelled back into the game through national federations.

G-14 clubs have already refused to take part in Fifa’s World Club Championships, due to take place at the end of next year.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Fifa, world football’s governing body, in based in Zurich.
Uefa, the governing body of European football, is based in Nyon.

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In brief

The G-14, founded in 1998, originally consisted of 14 clubs: Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, Manchester United, Liverpool, Juventus, AC Milan, Inter Milan, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Marseille, Paris St Germain, Ajax, PSV Eindhoven and FC Porto.

Last year, it expanded to 18 by adding Valencia, Arsenal, Bayer Leverkusen and Olympique Lyon.

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