In what is arguably the biggest transfer saga of all time, French star Kylian Mbappé has decided to stay in the capital of his home country instead of joining the most decorated club in European soccer history, Real Madrid. This was a colossal deal for Paris Saint-Germain to be able to extend one of the biggest talents in the world until 2025 after Mbappé had requested a transfer to Madrid towards the end of last summer’s transfer window. Mbappé staying in France gives Ligue 1 a much stronger chance of bringing a Champions League back to France for the first time in almost 30 years since Marseille won the Champions League back in 1993.
La Liga and Real Madrid were very disappointed to not bring Mbappé to the capital of Spain. A player like Mbappé can help the league tremendously both on and off the pitch, although it doesn’t seem like Madrid needs Mbappé at the moment as they are preparing to play in the Champions League final this weekend. Nevertheless, a player of Mbappé’s stature would have elevated La Liga on and off the pitch. At only 23 years old, Mbappé has already become one of the best players in the world and it seems like he’s only getting better after bringing home the top goalscorer and most assists in Ligue 1 this past season. Along with that, he carries with him a large social media presence, which is extremely important to help connect players and clubs with fans all over the world.
As a result of missing out on Mbappé, La Liga has decided to take legal action and file a complaint against UEFA, the governing body of European soccer, against PSG. Javier Tebas, president of La Liga, has tweeted out his opposition to the renewal, “What PSG is going to do by renewing Mbappé with large amounts of money (to know where and how he pays them) after losing €700M in recent seasons and having more than €600M in wages, is an INSULT to football. [PSG president] Al-Khelafi is as dangerous as the Super League.” What is a bit ironic in all of this is that Tebas and Al-Khelaifi were allies when the Super League was announced. PSG had refused to enter the Super League and of course, Tebas was against the Super League since this would hurt La Liga. Not to mention, had Real Madrid signed Mbappé, I’m sure Tebas wouldn’t care about the losses that Madrid has sustained over the past few years due to the pandemic. These same losses prompted Madrid president Florentino Perez to try to create a super league with other clubs across Europe, which was short-lived. Although the details of Mbappé’s contract have not been announced yet, numbers are floating around that if true, will make him the highest paid player in the world and potentially the highest paid player in all of sports on an annual basis.
UEFA has recently approved new financial regulations after the first iteration of financial regulations, Financial Fair Play (FFP), was a failure. These new financial regulations are called the Financial Sustainability and Club Licensing Regulations (FSCLR). These new rules are similar to La Liga’s financial fair play system, where a club’s total expenditures on transfers, wages, and agent fees cannot exceed 70% of its revenue. Under this, breaching teams will potentially face financial penalties and sporting measures. Whether or not it will be successful is to be determined, as FFP saw a few fines and penalties but nothing drastic enough to stop teams from breaching it. PSG was fined 60 million euros ($63 million) and a squad reduction in UEFA competition in 2014 for FFP breaches. Since then, PSG has spent over 400 million euros on just the signings of Neymar and Mbappé, which does not include the wages they paid the two players. It is unclear what kind of consequences PSG will face if the complaint is successful, but this will be the first test of the new financial regulations. This would set a large precedent as we see more and more clubs becoming state-owned like Newcastle’s most recent takeover by a state sovereign fund earlier this year. Soccer is the most popular sport in the world and will generate a large amount of revenue due to the global following these clubs have, but we also have to be realistic when it comes to transferring fees and wages some of these clubs are paying if we want to look at the long-term sustainability of the sport.
Greg Termolle is a 3L at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University. You can follow him on Twitter at @GregTerm.