Europe’s biggest clubs are jealous of Paris Saint-Germain’s ambitions to scale the summit of continental football, French Football Federation (FFF) president Noel Le Graet has claimed.
PSG’s world-record €222 million purchase of Neymar from Barcelona this summer was followed by the arrival of Kylian Mbappe, who will cost the Ligue 1 side €180m when an automatic purchase option is activated at the end of the season.
PSG’s summer spending has raised question marks over the club’s ability to meet financial fair play regulations, and UEFA have already opened a formal investigation into the matter.
A number of high-profile voices, from La Liga president Javier Tebas to Bayern Munich CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas, have also strongly criticised PSG’s spending policy.
Le Graet told L’Equipe they had been motivated by envy, and the FFF chief accused UEFA of being guilty of double standards, turning a blind eye to the misdemeanours of other clubs while placing PSG’s actions under close scrutiny.
“In France, the system, including the DNCG (National Directorate of Management Control) as the guarantor, is based on financial equilibrium,” Le Graet said. “PSG have always honoured their commitments. We can’t make any reproach to them in fiscal or social terms. I don’t see them not respecting the rules in place in France. UEFA is worried. It wasn’t too worried by others at a moment in time, notably in La Liga.
“PSG are criticised for getting state help [from their Qatari owners]. We can’t — as French football officials — be against a big club that wants to rival the best, be against those who govern us, who like Qatar. Political relations between the two countries are of great quality.
“I don’t see where PSG would have made a mistake. Financial fair play enables accounts to be cleaned up, but who other than clubs in small nations have been punished? Has UEFA touched Real [Madrid]? Barca? An English club?
“Depending on the country, clubs are taxed in different ways. There is also a bit of jealousy, I think. In the big boys’ playground, it’s a bit difficult for them to accept a little newcomer.”
UEFA deprived Spanish side Malaga of European football in 2013-14, and fined Manchester City and imposed the same restrictions on the English Premier League side it hit PSG with when the pair were found to have breached FFP limits in 2014.
Should PSG be found to have breached the regulations a second time, they would almost certainly face stiffer punishment this time round, and could face exclusion from continental competition.
Le Graet praised PSG’s ambition but added he preferred Bayern Munich’s model.
He said: “In sporting terms, you’d have to be stupid not to say ‘Bravo.’ Mbappe and Neymar, I’m happy to see them in the same French team. If PSG have signed them, it’s not only to be champions of France. Otherwise, it would be money spent for nothing.
“PSG’s squad will enable them to be more ambitious in the Champions League. Now, it is true, PSG are moving forward with an economic model outside the norm, like Monaco, actually.
“I don’t see why we would all be watching in admiration when Barca or Real play and not PSG. We need a great PSG, but I prefer the Bayern Munich model, a solid club with the structure of a national company.”