Soccer clubs leave Cofece offside

THE INVESTIGATION TAKEN three years and no team betrayed their teammates. The football squads set up the containment barrier well and were able to stop the shot and protect the goal.

Alejandra Palacios left the game in the middle of the first half wanting to win the trophy against those in long pants who control the “leg market” of Mexican soccer, but they thrashed her.

The first part ended without a winner. The investigation of the Federal Economic Competition Commission (Cofece) did not yield decisive conclusions. The party will go to the second half in court.

It was on June 29, 2018 when the investigation of the antitrust body began under the file number IO-002-2018 against various clubs of the MX League, headed by Mikel Arriola.

What was tried and continues to be demonstrated are possible absolute monopolistic practices in the football business, for which the teams agreed to restrict the hiring of professional players.

The so-called “Gentlemen’s Agreement” goes against FIFA rules, which allow footballers to negotiate with another team six months before the end of their employment relationship.

Said pact, in the opinion of Cofece, consisted of collusion between the team where a player was currently signed and the squad that intended to hire him once he was released.

The intention was to “protect the economic interests” of football and a payment for training rights was set. But at the end of the day the footballer was not always benefited from these negotiations.

There were a series of rules for footballers and intermediaries to negotiate “cards” from players. The current market value of Liga MX is estimated to be 749 million euros.

The antitrust practices in the signings, if proven, would merit fines for the responsible teams of up to 10% of their income and penalties ranging from five to ten years in prison.

As far as we know, no soccer team denounced another due to the belief of Palacios and his pupils that they were agreeing on anti-competitive negotiations in the purchase and sale of players.

It seems that the outgoing Palacios wanted to have a media case to show off, but did not succeed, since the teams had good legal arguments and the specialized courts in competition did not grant several of the Cofece requests.

The problem between managers and soccer players, in Mexico and the world, is real and comes at a very bad time for the economic life of clubs and soccer, because the income of sports companies plummeted due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Shortly the Federal Economic Competition Commission, now chaired by Brenda Gisela Hernández, will make public the resolution of the issue, once the economic agents are duly notified.

But also the Liga MX and the teams will fix their position: they will not accept the alleged responsibility that Cofece intends to attribute to them. However, the case is far from over.

The second half of this match will be settled in the specialized courts, which will have the last word.

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