The French top-flight chairman has lashed out at LaLiga president Javier Tebas for calling Kylian Mbappe’s new contract with Paris Saint-Germain “an insult to football” – describing his grievances as “disrespectful smears”.
Mbappe signed a new three-year deal with PSG earlier this month, rejecting an offer from Spanish side Real Madrid who were preparing to offer the French world champions a package totaling £300million.
The 22-year-old’s new contract with the French club drew an angry reaction from La Liga and their president Tebas, who announced last week that they would file a complaint with UEFA, tax authorities in France and the European Union over the “non-compliance” of PSG would submit with UEFA’s financial fair play”.
Now French football chief Vincent Labrune, president of the French professional league (LFP), has issued a scathing attack on Tebas’ arguments, in which he also lashed out at the recent actions of Spanish superclubs Real Madrid and Barcelona. Labrune also urged Tebas to “treat players with respect in our league and across Europe.”
“Two of your clubs – Real Madrid and Barcelona – have broken numerous records over the past decade,” read an excerpt of the letter. “In terms of transfer fees, these two clubs have broken the world record six times. In terms of player salaries, Real Madrid currently have two of the best-paid players in the world on the bench.”
“In terms of debt, Barcelona is reported to have a debt level of €1.5 billion and this despite the European Court of Justice finding that Real Madrid and Barcelona have benefited from legal state aid.
“For you to publicly and repeatedly take a stand against Ligue 1 on this issue and denigrate our league and our clubs is both unacceptable and patently wrong.
“It has also escaped no one that the culmination of the competitive imbalance was the recent breakaway European Super League – founded and still maintained by your two clubs.”
Labrune also referred to the fact that former Spain-based players Lionel Messi and Sergio Ramos both left LaLiga last summer, joining Mbappe in favor of France over La Liga from Tebas.
The French football boss condemned Tebas’ reaction to the departure of Messi and Ramos and says his own country’s top flight would never have been so disrespectful towards outgoing players.
The letter continued: “When Lionel Messi, Sergio Ramos and others left your league last year – voluntarily – they commented on their age and branded our league ‘like the League of Legends given the age of the players.
“Now your disrespectful smears seem to be aimed at Kylian Mbappe, who is widely recognized as one of the greatest players in the world and simply hasn’t joined your league despite receiving a similar offer. Unlike you, Ligue 1 celebrates and promotes players both in our league and across Europe – including those in your league.”
La Liga anger at Mbappe contract
The news of Mbappe’s new contract was met with a clamor by Spanish football authorities, with LaLiga announcing in a statement on May 21 that they will complain about PSG’s alleged actions.
The statement said: “This type of agreement attacks the economic sustainability of European football and puts hundreds of thousands of jobs and sporting integrity at risk – not only in European competitions but also in domestic leagues.
“It is scandalous that a club like PSG recorded losses of more than €220m last season after amassing losses of more than €700m in previous seasons (while reporting dubious sponsorship earnings) with sports staff costs of around €650m for this 2021-22 season may be faced with an agreement on these features, while those clubs that could accept the player’s arrival without their payroll being affected cannot sign him.
“Out of all this, LaLiga will file a complaint against PSG with UEFA, the administrative and tax authorities in France and before the relevant bodies of the European Union to further defend the economic ecosystem of European football and its sustainability.”
The statement concluded that the behavior of PSG President Nasser Al-Khelaifi and his club “endangers European football on the same level as the European Super League”.
Earlier this week, Tebas confirmed that the complaint would be submitted to UEFA by Friday.
“We are working with a French law firm to take legal action in France and in the European Union,” Tebas said at an event on Wednesday.
“We will also report the matter to UEFA before Friday. It is impossible for PSG to comply with current financial fair play rules considering what they will pay for Mbappe.”
“It is already clear that they will push the boundaries. Let’s see what happens, although now of course it’s impossible to stop Mbappe’s renewal.”
PSG President Nasser Al-Khelaifi gave his personal response to Tebas’ complaints in a press conference attended by Mbappe on Tuesday.
“Maybe he’s afraid that Ligue 1 is better than LaLiga,” said the PSG boss. “LaLiga is not the same as it was three or four years ago. I have respect for all clubs but we also need respect. Respect is key.”
The complete Ligue 1 answer to LaLiga
Dear Mr Tebas,
We refer to your letter of May 21, 2022, which you have decided to publish.
We would like to express in the strongest terms our disapproval, but also our incomprehension, for your recent attacks on Ligue 1 and one of our clubs.
We are all the more shocked that you are carrying out these attacks considering that you are the President of the European Leagues (who is supposed to represent all leagues in Europe including Ligue 1) and a member of the UEFA Executive Committee (whose role is to protect the collective interests representing European football).
It is difficult to follow the factual content of your letter and the relevance to La Liga of a player’s contract extension with a club in another division. Your attacks on Ligue 1 and one of our clubs, Paris Saint-Germain, and one of our players, Kylian Mbappe, are based on your own interpretation of the financial unsustainability and competitive imbalance that you repeatedly attribute to Ligue 1 and one of our clubs.
Firstly, in terms of financial stability and sustainability, two of your clubs – Real Madrid and Barcelona – have broken a multitude of records over the past decade. In terms of transfer fees, these two clubs have broken the world record six times. In terms of player salaries, Real Madrid currently has two of the highest paid players in world football on the bench.
“Barcelona are said to have a debt of €1.5 billion, despite the European Court of Justice finding that Real Madrid and Barcelona have benefited from illegal state aid. Over the last decade, La Liga has spent +32% more players than in Ligue 1 and significantly more towards foreign players outside their own league than in Ligue 1.
Your continued public stance against Ligue 1 on this subject, denigrating our league and our clubs, is both unacceptable and patently wrong. For you to do this in your capacity as President of the European Leagues – which represent Ligue 1 – is not only contradictory (an issue on which you speak out against others) but also totally inappropriate.
Second, your position on the competitive balance lacks coherence or confidence. In recent years, Barcelona and Real Madrid have won 7 out of 9 consecutive Champions League finals. In 18 years only 3 clubs have won their league with 15 years by two clubs. In that time 7 different Ligue 1 clubs have won our league, while in Germany this year one team has won the league for 10 years in a row – yet your focus and attacks remain constant on our league. On the subject of competitive imbalances, I note that you fail to mention the significant tax and social security differentials for which French clubs are heavily penalized compared to your clubs. It has also not escaped anyone that the culmination of the competitive imbalance was the recent breakaway European Super League – founded and still maintained by your two clubs.
Finally, a final comment would be a simple request to treat players with respect in our league and across Europe. When Lionel Messi, Sergio Ramos and others voluntarily left your league last year, instead of acknowledging your greatest (which you did weeks before leaving), you commented on their age and brandished our league as “like the league of legends” given age the player”.
Now your disrespectful smacks appear to be aimed at Kylian Mbappe, who is widely recognized as one of the best players in the world and simply hasn’t joined your league despite receiving a similar offer. Unlike you, Ligue 1 praises and promotes players both in our league and across Europe – including those in your league.
Someone in your various positions might be wise to consider the same.
For our part, we are pleased and proud that, following your letter, Ligue 1 has received a number of calls of support from other leagues, clubs and stakeholders in European football.