- BBC News World
The “Pact of Gentlemen” of Mexican soccer was finally sanctioned.
The Federal Economic Competition Commission of Mexico (Cofece) fined the Liga Mx of the first division for having applied “absolute monopolistic practices” in an unwritten agreement that prevented footballers from signing new contracts freely.
It also issued sanctions for having applied a “salary cap” that limited the players of the Liga Mx Femenil to obtain better salaries.
The Mexican Soccer Federation (FMF) indicated that it abides by the sanctions for almost US $ 9 million that Cofece applied to the institution and 17 clubs of the first division.
“Both practices were eradicated prior to the determination issued by Cofece regarding a possible non-compliance with the regulatory framework of economic competition,” said the FMF.
They claim that the “Gentlemen’s Pact” was ended in the Liga Mx in 2018, but there were still complaints from players about agreements after that year in lower divisions.
But how does the strategy that contravenes the FIFA rules work?
Right of “formation”
The “Gentlemen’s Agreement” has been applied when a player’s contract is about to end or has expired.
The owners of the teams then offer a renewal or negotiate their pass to another club.
The problem comes when players want to changeBe a club of your own choice at the end of their contract, a move by which the previous club receives nothing in return.
The owners of the teams demand financial compensation in exchange for their freedom.
If they don’t get paid, in a verbal agreement between the owners the player is banned and no Liga Mx club agrees to hire him.
Some call it “training entitlement”, a way of defining the money clubs invest in training professional players.
But in reality, say specialists such as Héctor Huerta, a commentator for the ESPN sports network, the correct name for this practice is “Pacto de Caballeros.”
Contrary to FIFA and Mexican law
The rules of the International Federation of Associated Football (FIFA) expressly say that the player has the freedom to seek a contract with any club.
“A professional player will have the freedom to sign a contract with another club, if his contract with the current club has expired or will expire within a period of six months,” states the international regulations.
“Any violation of this provision will be subject to the pertinent sanctions,” he says.
Recently, Argentine striker Lionel Messi signed as a free player with PSG, as his contract with FC Barcelona had ended.
But in mexico the managers decided to ignore the international rules.
“The owners of the teams say: I can let you go wherever you want but no one is going to offer you a job,” Hector Huerta explained to BBC Mundo.
“They agree among themselves and then nobody hires that footballer. The players are never, never free,” he adds.
The FMF was notified since 2002 of the regulation that gives freedom of contract to players. But such an arrangement was a dead letter in Mexican football.
For Cofece, “the conduct constituted a collusive agreement that had the object and effect of segmenting the player market to limit the competition of the clubs in hiring them, which unduly restricted the mobility of athletes and limited their ability to negotiation for better wages. “
The way the agreement was operated, always verbal, made it impossible for it to be pursued.
But after an audit, the Cofece detected that was practiced for at least 10 years and caused “damage to the market” equivalent to some US $ 4 million.
Knock down the players
Several players challenged the “Gentlemen’s Pact” to win a good contract with foreign clubs, such as ex-selected Oswaldo Alanís.
High-level players have the power to do that, but other footballers with lesser poster are obliged to accept the conditions of the clubs.
“They end up complying with the owners’ provisions, even if they are illegal,” says Héctor Huerta.
In the case of women, Cofece found that by putting a salary cap of about US $ 750 on the monthly salary, the soccer players could not negotiate better salaries.
“That eliminated competition between clubs to sign them with better remuneration and deepened the gender pay gap “, determined the agency.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.