The European Commission has decided to return seven Spanish soccer clubs, tens of millions of dollars, for aid received from the government.
The Commission considered that those clubs violated European laws, taking advantage of government aid, through preferential loans, tax exemptions and transactions on the properties of these clubs, and this gave them a comparative advantage compared to other clubs.
The commission said Monday that the Spanish government should recover money from Barcelona, Real Madrid, Valencia, Athletic Bilbao, Osasuna, Ilyich and Hercules.
The Commission says that Real Madrid, Barcelona, Athletic Bilbao and Osasuna clubs each have to return five million euros, because they have received unfair tax exemptions.
But it is the Spanish Ministry of Finance that will decide these sums specifically.
The Real Madrid team, the richest club in the world, must return $ 18.4 million in one case, related to the overvaluation of the land owned by the club in the Spanish capital in 1998.
European Competition Commissioner Margaret Festiger said that clubs have unfairly used taxpayer money to finance themselves.
She added in a statement: “Professional football is a commercial activity in which a lot of money is involved, and public funds must be subject to fair competition standards and rules, but government aid that we examined in these cases does not match these standards.”
In an independent investigation, the European Commission acquitted Eindhoven and four other Dutch clubs from receiving unfair financial support.