Cofece sanctioned 17 Liga MX clubs, the Mexican Soccer Federation (FMF) and eight individuals for colluding in the soccer player transfer market.
One of the sanctioned behaviors consisted of an agreement to set a maximum cap on female players’ salaries, which eliminated competition between clubs to hire them with better remuneration and widened the gender pay gap.
Likewise, the other sanctioned conduct consisted of the segmentation in the market of the players, in which the teams artificially inhibited competition for their hiring, through an agreement that unduly restricted their labor mobility, preventing them from negotiating and hiring with the team that best suited them. suited.
The fines imposed total 177.6 million pesos.
The clubs colluded to avoid or inhibit competition in the soccer player transfer market through two behaviors: 1) imposing maximum caps on female players’ salaries, which further widened the wage gap between women and men soccer players; and 2) segmenting the players’ market by establishing a mechanism that prevented them from freely negotiating and contracting with new teams.
In the file (I0-002-2018), the following were sanctioned:
- Club de Futbol América (America).
- Promoter of the Pachuca Club (Pachuca).
- Cruz Azul Social and Cultural Sports Club (Cruz Azul).
- Mazatlán Soccer Team (Monarcas).
- Chivas de Corazón (Guadalajara).
- Santos Laguna (Santos).
- Sports Synergy (Tigres).
- Deportivo Toluca Futbol Club (Toluca).
- National University Club (University).
- Club de Futbol Monterrey Rayados (Rayados).
- Promoter of Deportivo Necaxa (Necaxa).
- Club de Futbol Atlante (Atlante).
- Professional Operation Services (Tijuana).
- Club de Futbol Rojinegros (Atlas).
- Club León Sports Force (León).
- Sports Scenarios Operator (Puebla).
- Club Gallos Blancos (Querétaro or Gallos).
Since the creation of the Liga MX Femenil in 2016, various clubs have agreed to establish a salary cap for these athletes based on three categories: i) those over 23 years of age would earn a maximum of 2,000 pesos; ii) those under 23 years old, 500 pesos plus a course for their personal training and iii) the players in the Under-17 category would not have income, but could have help with transportation, studies and food.
This agreement was replaced by another in the 2018-2019 season, through a statement the Liga MX informed the clubs that the maximum limit would be 15 thousand pesos and only 4 of its players could win above that amount, in addition to the fact that the In-kind support could not exceed 50,000 pesos per tournament.
The first cap on footballers’ salaries was part of the presentation of the Liga MX Femenil project and was approved by the Liga MX Sports Development Committee.
In addition, the FMF issued statements to persuade the clubs to comply with the salary cap, in addition to carrying out tasks to verify compliance.
The practice, which lasted from November 2016 to May 2019, constituted a collusive agreement between the Clubs1 that had the object and effect of manipulating prices – in this case the salaries of the players – and preventing the clubs from competing for their hiring through better wages, which not only had a negative impact on their income, but also had the consequence of widening the gender pay gap.
Agreement to segment the transfer market of the players. The 17 sanctioned clubs, with the assistance of the FMF, agreed to apply the retention right (better known as the “gentlemen’s agreement”), whereby each club affiliated to the Federation registered the players with whom they had a contract before it. , but at their expiration they maintained the right to retain them. If a different club was interested in hiring that footballer, they necessarily had to obtain authorization from the first club that had him in their “inventory” and, often, pay a consideration for the change.
These agreements materialized during the transfer and hiring regime for soccer players (known as draft).
On the one hand, the conduct constituted a collusive agreement that had the object and effect of segmenting the player market in order to limit the competition of the clubs in hiring them, which unduly restricted the mobility of the athletes and limited their negotiating capacity. to get better wages.
On the other hand, the duration of this conduct was at least 10 years, from June 2008 to December 2018, although several economic agents participated for a shorter period.
Together, both behaviors generated damage to the market estimated at 83 million 375,000 pesos, for which the Cofece Plenary decided to sanction the aforementioned clubs, as well as the FMF and 8 individuals for their assistance, with fines that together they amount to 177.6 million pesos.
Once the resolution has been notified to the parties, the economic agents and the sanctioned persons have the right to go to the Judicial Power of the Federation to have the legality of the Cofece’s actions reviewed.