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Questioning UEFA



Growing up, parents are the experts about everything, and children blindly believe everything they say. As children get older, however, they start to realize that maybe their parents don’t know everything, and often question their authority. Right now, UEFA are like the parents who have been found out, as their FFP rulings have been so far off base that it has taken the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to put them in their place. And it begs the question, if UEFA are so far out of touch with reality when it comes to football and finances, then who is governing whom?

So many questions

Last May, after UEFA again refused a settlement agreement with Milan, I wrote about their “Financial Foul Play.” They seemed to be looking more at circumstantial evidence than actual facts, and despite purportedly ruling on the years prior to the Yonghong Li takeover of Milan, they seemed to be making their decision based on “uncertainties” of his ownership. Then came “Judgment Day,” when they fined Milan and handed down a two year ban from UEFA competitions.

This discipline was unheard of, and hardly seemed like any kind of fair play. So Milan took it to the CAS, who overturned the ban, even if the process cost us nearly our entire mercato. Which wasn’t surprising, that UEFA’s discipline was not considered fair, when you compare the FFP sanctions for two similar clubs, Milan and Inter. Even PSG, who have managed to bypass FFP rules in some pretty major ways, have now also had their FFP discipline overturned by the CAS.

The CAS putting the "fair" in Financial Fair Play

While UEFA is an organization that is supposed to govern European football, it is made up of elected officials and is quite politicized. Meanwhile, the CAS is an independent organization that hears cases from all over the world of sports, and has no funding or relationship with any other governing body. Basically, UEFA potentially has financial and political motivations, and the CAS is impartial.

So why has the CAS overturned two big UEFA rulings in the past year? If they are impartial and look at both sides of each case, and have ruled in favor of the clubs, then what is UEFA and FFP even for? Have UEFA lost their minds?

UEFA were more worried about this guy than the Chinese charlatan

Consider this: when UEFA first denied Milan’s request for a settlement agreement, it wasn’t Yonghong Li they feared. It was the Elliott Fund. They specifically mentioned that they did not want Milan to fall into the hands of a hedge fund. The irony is so rich there.

In November, after Milan’s ban was overturned, but we were still waiting for UEFA’s new disciplinary action, UEFA sent a letter to Leonardo, basically saying that they did not approve of the club’s purchase of Paqueta. Specifically they mentioned that he was not the kind of player that Milan should be investing in with our FFP sanctions looming. More irony, they recently congratulated Milan on their successful January mercato, now that they see how Paqueta has helped Milan so much. That, and the fact that he was given Brazil’s prestigious number 10, and has already even scored for Brazil. Now UEFA, tell me again why he’s not the kind of player that Milan should buy?

Not the kind of player Milan should be investing in?

Making FFP into Financial Fool Play, UEFA is now having to backpedal. Milan lodged another appeal with the CAS following UEFA’s FFP plan handed down in January. Not only did Milan basically lose another mercato while waiting for UEFA, but we outspent all of the other teams in Europe in the long run. Seeing PSG’s discipline also overturned by the CAS, UEFA have now offered to negotiate with Milan as to the terms of their FFP sanctions, rather than see another CAS ruling overturn their harsh discipline. Huh.

UEFA were wrong about the Elliott Fund. They have had the CAS overturn their harsh discipline for two big clubs in less than a year. They were wrong about Paqueta. Finally, after having been made the fool, they are starting to come around. They finally seem to be understanding that maybe they don’t know what’s best for clubs or their finances, and maybe they should be a little more reasonable, particularly with a club like Milan, that has seen so many changes in the last three years. But if they were doing their jobs in the first place, perhaps they wouldn’t have lost credibility. Now, no one can take them seriously. It seems that everyone is questioning UEFA.


This post inspired by the music of Annie Lennox’s “Why”


Our next match is
Sampdoria vs. Milan
Saturday, March 30 • 20:30 CET (3:30pm EDT)*
*note the time difference due to U.S. Daylight Savings Time