|Author (Person)||Banks, Martin|
|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol.7, No.27, 5.7.01, p5|
COMPETITION Commissioner Mario Monti has been urged to complete his investigation into the legality of UEFA's ban on soccer clubs with shared ownership taking part in the same cup competitions "as soon as possible".
The European football body introduced the ban in 1998 in a bid to deter match-fixing. Monti is still looking into whether there are less restrictive ways to ensure the integrity of matches. But Belgian Green MEP Bart Staes says it is imperative the position is clarified as two joint-owned clubs, Paris Saint-Germain and Servette, could qualify for next season's UEFA Cup, starting in September.
The French first division side and top Swiss club are both owned by French media giant Canal Plus.
Servette have already qualified for the UEFA tournament and PSG this week entered the Intertoto Cup, which offers clubs a second chance of getting into the UEFA competition if they have failed to secure an automatic entry by winning their national league or major cup titles. But PSG, whose line-up includes French superstar Nicolas Anelka, have been warned that even if they win the Intertoto Cup they will be prohibited from taking part in the more glamorous UEFA Cup competition. Servette would be given priority as they have already qualified.
Geneva-based UEFA has told PSG the only way they will be allowed to participate is if they sever their links with Canal Plus.
Ajax of the Netherlands and Germinal Beerschot Antwerp could also fall victim to the ban after the Dutch club bought a majority holding in the Belgian side.
European competition is vital to clubs such as PSG and Ajax as it is a huge money-spinner, particularly if they reach the later stages. Failure to qualify can cost clubs millions in lost TV revenue.
Canal Plus are not the only group involved in different clubs. The London-based National Investment Company (ENIC) controls four European clubs - AEK Athens, Slavia Prague, Vicenze and Spurs; it also has a large stake in Glasgow Rangers. ENIC claims the UEFA ban is in breach of EU law and could also fall outside competition rules. Pressure is now mounting on Monti to complete his investigation before the start of the new soccer season. But his spokesman, Amelia Torres, said no decision has yet been made. She said: "The Commission has not yet adopted a definitive position on UEFA's rules but will announce its decision as soon as possible."
Mike Lee, UEFA's director of communications, told European Voice the ban was brought in to "protect the integrity of its cup competitions" and avoid possible match-fixing. He said: "The rules are clear: in the case of two or more clubs under common control, only one may take part in the same UEFA cup competition. If PSG's position changes their situation could be reviewed."
Competition Commissioner Mario Monti has been urged to complete his investigation into the legality of UEFA's ban on soccer clubs with shared ownership taking part in the same cup competitions 'as soon as possible'.
|Subject Categories||Culture, Education and Research, Internal Markets|