Die haben natürlich mit RBL und RBS einen Präzedenzfall geschaffen.
Qatar is interested in making a move for the Old Trafford side, as The Athletic reported earlier this week. But the Gulf state already owns French champions Paris Saint-Germain, via Qatar Sports Investments, an investment vehicle with close links to the country’s sovereign wealth fund, the Qatar Investment Authority.
Under UEFA regulations, if two clubs that are controlled by the same entity qualify for competitions such as the Champions League, only one of the teams is allowed to enter.
The regulations state that “no individual or legal entity may have control or influence over more than one club participating in a UEFA club competition”. They define such control or “decisive influence” as being in charge of the overall decision-making of a club, having control over voting rights, which could extend to having the power to appoint or remove staff.
Human rights research and advocacy group FairSquare has now written to UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin, copying in general secretary Theodore Theodoridis and Premier League chief executive Richard Masters, urging UEFA to publicly prohibit any takeover of United while QSI still owns PSG.
The FairSquare letter states: “A basic study of Qatar’s political and economic system amply demonstrates the impossibility of any Qatari consortium proving itself independent of state influence, and thus separate from the ownership of PSG.
“Freedom House’s World Freedom Index classifies Qatar as ‘not free’, and its most recent assessment is highly critical of Qatar’s record on the rule of law, corruption, and political participation: ‘Qatar’s hereditary emir holds all executive and legislative authority and ultimately controls the judiciary.’”
FairSquare also points out the ties between the country’s major investment vehicles and the ruling family, and to each other, such as the chairman of QSI sitting on the board of the Qatar Investment Authority. Qatar does claim QSI is independent of QIA.
The letter continues: “UEFA’s Statutes are very clear on the critical importance of ensuring that no single party can exercise control or influence over more than one club, and this is all the more important when the owners are states.
“State ownership of European football clubs jeopardises the integrity of the game, its proclaimed values and its sustainability.”
The letter also highlights the investigation by law enforcement in Belgium. Reports state Qatar is the “primary source of funds used to bribe numerous European politicians”, which has led to “the European Parliament suspending access to Qatari representatives to the parliament premises and to halt all pending legislation involving Qatar”. Qatar has denied this.
UEFA mentioned the issue of multi-club investment in its European Club Footballing Landscape last week.
It said: “The rise of multi-club investment has the potential to pose a material threat to the integrity of European club competitions, with a growing risk of seeing two clubs with the same owner or investor facing each other on the pitch.”
RB Leipzig and Red Bull Salzburg managed to persuade UEFA that they were controlled by separate entities in 2017 despite both being closely associated with the Austrian soft drinks firm Red Bull. After a restructuring of Salzburg’s ownership, both teams have been allowed to compete in the Champions League.