Competition Focus

FC Barcelona Face Champions League Ban, Spanish Federation UEFA Threat

Spain’s top clubs including FC Barcelona and Real Madrid could be banned from European competitions such as the Champions League if its country’s football federation (RFEF) goes through with a threat to UEFAEFA reported on by Onda Cero.

According to the radio station, the RFEF sent a letter to the European football authority complaining about “government interventionism” and asked to be suspended by UEFA.

For a kissing incident after Spain won the Women’s World Cup final against England earlier this month, RFEF president Luis Rubiales was expected to leave his post at a specially-held assembly on Friday.

Rubiales has claimed that the kiss on the mouth he gave to captain Jennifer Hermoso was consensual, but Hermoso has denied this in a statement.

After Rubiales defiantly vowed not to step down at the assembly, the Spanish government started legal proceedings against him in the national sports court.

In response, according to Onda Cero, the RFEF then sent their letter to UEFA where Secretary General Andreu Camps asked the European governing body to suspend it.

If realized, this would see Spanish clubs ejected from UEFA competitions such as the Champions League and Europa League while Spain’s men’s team also wouldn’t be able to compete at Euro 2024 next summer.

Onda Cero explained that the letter was sent before world governing body FIFA provisionally suspended Rubiales and that Pedro Rocha, who is the interim president of the RFEF, only learned of its existence because of the radio station’s report.

Also on Monday, several Spanish outlets reported that Rubiales’ mother has locked herself in a church and has gone on a hunger strike in protest at the “hunt” her son has been subjected to, which she called “inhumane”.

Being excluded from the Champions League would be a disaster for the likes of Real Madrid and Barca, but especially for the Catalans.

By moving to the Montjuic Stadium this season while Camp Nou is being renovated, the club expects to incur losses of over €90 million ($97.25 million).

The Champions League brings in much-welcomed television and ticket revenue as debt-ridden Barca struggle to navigate Financial Fair Play limits and register new players.

Once already this year, they have effectively been cleared by UEFA to feature in the elite competition in 2023/2024 despite an ongoing investigation known as the ‘Caso Negreira’ in Spain.

The case pertains to payments made to the former Vice President of the Referees’ Committee, which Barca chief Joan Laporta claims were all above board.

The Champions League group stage draw will take place in just three days’ time with Barca, Real Madrid, Real Sociedad, Sevilla and Atletico having all qualified.

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