The European Union "has made formal accusation" against seven Spanish clubs -- La Liga sides Real Madrid, Barcelona, Athletic Bilbao, Valencia, Elche and Osasuna and second division side Hércules -- in "three separate articles published earlier this month in their official journal," according to J. L. Guerrero of AS. Investigations "were opened in December, concerning clubs receiving state aid in breach of EU competition guidelines." At the "end of last year, the Spanish government submitted documentation relating to the allegations to the European Commission." The government's arguments "have not convinced the Union's legislative body," which has set April 7 as the "deadline for implicated parties to submit their account books." Three separate investigations "are underway: one involving Real Madrid, Barcelona, Osasuna and Athletic Club -- all of whom have yet to be converted into public limited companies." The second concerns Hércules, Valencia and Elche, "who are accused of being the recipients of public-funded loans while the third revolves around the alleged transfer and reclassification of land between Madrid's regional government and Real Madrid." The Commission stated that in all three cases, the clubs "may have to return any undue state aid they have received." Real Madrid, Barcelona, Osasuna and Athletic Bilbao are accused of "possible tax privileges as a result of not being obliged to convert themselves" into PLC's in '92. All but Athletic Bilbao -- at 21% -- "pay corporation tax at 25%." The "rest of Spanish clubs, who are PLCs, pay at the standard 30% tax rate." The EC's second investigation concerns "possible benefits received by Real Madrid for the exchange of land in the Las Tablas district in 1998 which was returned in 2011 because, according to local authorities, it was classified for public use only." As part of its third investigation, the EC also "requires a more detailed explanation of guaranteed loans" totaling €118M given to Valencia, Hércules and Elche -- "state-funded credit which the clubs have been unable to return" (AS, 3/14).
German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere has announced that "elite sports funding will be increased" by €8M ($11M), according to SPORT1. However, last year officials calculated that elite sports "would need a funding increase" of €38M ($53M) to continue competing at a top level. Despite this difference of €30M ($42M), German sport officials "are happy about the increase." German Olympic Sports Association (DOSB) Elite Sports VP Christa Thiel said, "It's a good thing and the amount corresponds roughly to the deficit that we detected in project funding." The increase "will largely go toward project funding." German Athletics Federation (DLV) President Clemens Prokop said, "It basically is a positive signal." Last year, Thiel, who chaired the DOSB's internal commission, said that elite sports needed an additional €38M. Thiel: "It was only an overall number, which was supposed to highlight the complete demand." It "has not been decided yet what sports will benefit from the funding increase" (SPORT1, 3/13).
Liga MX Puebla President Jesús López Chargoy announced that "the club has started to pay its players the salaries they have been owed after the players said on Tuesday that some are owed payments dating back more than three months," according to Jaime Zambrano of LA AFICION. López Chargoy said, "It is being paid. Obviously, as leaders, we have the responsibility to fulfill the contracts we have with them. ... As leaders, what we do not want are distractions, and [the players] do not want external distractions either. ... If on Sunday [against UANL Tigres], we do not have an answer on the field, it complicates the situation" (LA AFICION, 3/15).
PAYMENT DEMANDED: In Mexico City, Ricardo Magallán reported following Saturday's game against Mérida, Mexican second division side Celaya players "made an unusual proposal regarding two months of debt that players and coaches are owed in salary." Just "as the players posed for a photo to be taken, they all covered their faces with paper bags." Phrases "like 'pay me' were written on the bags in reference to the two months that have passed since players last received their salaries." The "gesture was aimed directly at the club execs' box," where club President Alejandro Márquez was sitting. The "complaints go beyond economics, as players have already complained about traveling to road contests on matchdays" (LA AFICION, 3/16).