PSG writes to Spanish league head to protest attacks on club

Javier Tebas, president of the Spanish league, had delivered some familiar broadsides about PSG benefiting from state funding, followed by fresh digs against the club for signing Lionel Messi from Barcelona.

Published : Sep 08, 2021 20:51 IST

After years of verbal attacks against its ownership and funding, Paris Saint-Germain’s leadership has had enough, writing to Spanish league president Javier Tebas to protest his “insulting and defamatory statements” about the Qatari-owned club, according to a letter obtained by The Associated Press .

Tebas delivered some familiar broadsides on Tuesday about PSG benefiting from state funding, followed by fresh digs against the club for signing Lionel Messi from Barcelona.

“PSG looks like the league of legends given the age of some players,” Tebas said, while boasting of apparently younger stars in La Liga. The 34-year-old Messi still captained Argentina to the Copa America title in July and was the tournament’s top scorer.

PSG’s complaint to Tebas on Wednesday came from club general secretary Victoriano Melero.

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“You are … directly and disrespectfully attacking the players, simply because they decided to leave your competition, while at the same time you have been taking full advantage of having these world-greatest players in promoting your League until very recently,” Melero wrote.

“Your remarkable comments on the age of these players not only insults their past and current roles in defining how our great game is played, but also the millions of fans around the world who idolize them.”

Messi was top scorer in his final season in La Liga with 30 goals as Barcelona finished in second place. It was Barcelona being unable to comply with La Liga’s financial regulations over the size of its wage bill that led to Messi having to leave in August.

Melero chided Tebas for adopting a “strategy favouring the economic expansion of LaLiga without having domestic financial regulations” that the French league introduced earlier.

Barcelona’s debts have ballooned to 1.4 billion euros ($1.7 billion), with the pandemic exacerbating existing financial issues at the Calatan giant.

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“It is now publicly known that certain Spanish clubs and your League are facing unsustainable levels of debt after gross mismanagement,” Melero wrote, “not to mention the way Spanish football has been financed over the past decade – including by the State".

That is a reference to state aid received by Barcelona and Real Madrid in the past.

Tebas was speaking hours after PSG chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi completed his first general assembly as head of the European Club Association -- the latest high-profile role for the Qatari, who also sits on the UEFA executive committee along with Tebas.

“Time after time, you allow yourself to publicly attack the French League, our Club, our players – together with players of other Clubs – and the fans of French football,” Melero wrote to Tebas, “while constantly posting insulting and defamatory statements insinuating that we do not conform to the football financial regulations, amongst other unsubstantiated statements.”

Melero said “year after year … we comply with UEFA and French regulations”.

PSG reached a settlement with UEFA for breaching Financial Fair Play rules in 2014.

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Tebas and Al-Khelaifi had been on the same side fending off the attempt by 12 clubs to split from UEFA and join a European Super League in April, with PSG not signing up before the project collapsed.

Yet, Tebas said on Tuesday that “what PSG are doing is as dangerous as the Super League” at the end of a summer transfer window, when it also signed defender Sergio Ramos as a free agent after leaving Real Madrid.

Barcelona, Madrid and Juventus are the only sides still clinging to the hope of a breakaway, largely-closed competition.

“These attacks are unhelpful in the context of institutions and clubs across European football focusing every energy on finding common solutions to the problems facing football,” Melero wrote.

“That is, of course, except the three ESL clubs, two of which are in your League. I am quite surprised you are not focusing more of your attention on the two clubs in your League that remain steadfast focused on breaking up your League, and European football as a whole.”

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