Sporting, Porto face 1-year European bans for unpaid debts

Portuguese football clubs Sporting Lisbon and Porto were threatened with a one-season ban from the Champions League and other European competitions on Friday if they fail to pay outstanding debts within two months.

Sporting, Porto were threatened with a 1-year European bans for unpaid debts. (Representative Image)   -  GETTY IMAGES

Portuguese football clubs Sporting Lisbon and Porto were threatened with a one-season ban from the Champions League and other European competitions on Friday if they fail to pay outstanding debts within two months.

UEFA announced fines for eight teams — and potential one-season bans for six of them — following a decision by the financial monitoring panel, which oversees revenue and spending by clubs in European competitions.

Each case involves “overdue payables,” a category which can include unpaid salaries, transfer fees or social taxes.

Clubs are still being punished by the UEFA-appointed Club Financial Control Body for unpaid debts even though much of the Financial Fair Play monitoring system is being reviewed because of huge revenue losses in the football industry amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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Sporting, which has advanced to the round of 16 in the Champions League, and Porto, which is second in its group, could be excluded the next time they qualify for the Champions League, Europa League or Europa Conference League in the next three seasons.

The UEFA panel is chaired by Sunil Gulati, the former United States soccer federation president who is an economics lecturer at Columbia University. It set all the clubs a deadline of Jan. 31 to prove they paid the outstanding amounts.

Sporting was also fined 250,000 euros ($283,000) and Porto 300,000 euros ($334,000).

Four other clubs, Real Betis, CSKA Sofia, Portuguese team Santa Clara and Gibraltarian team Mons Calpe, face one-season bans and were fined from 15,000 euros ($17,000) to 250,000 euros ($283,000).

Fines were also imposed on Astana and Cluj but without a threatened ban.

In a separate case, AEK Athens reached a settlement with the UEFA panel to pay a fine of 1.5 million euros ($1.7 million) and receive a 10% deduction in prize money from its next entry in European competitions.

AEK faces a one-year ban for a repeat of similar financial rule breaches, UEFA said.

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