French 1st-division clubs lost $678M last season

PARIS—French first-division soccer clubs lost 645 million euros ($678 million) during the coronavirus-hit 2020-21 season, the league’s financial watchdog said Thursday.

The DNCG said 17 of the 20 teams in Ligue 1 lost money last season.

Match revenues took a huge hit as games were held without fans from October onward and with limited capacity set at 5,000 before that. Only Saint-Etienne, Rennes and Dijon—which was relegated—stayed in the green.

The total amount lost was 140 percent higher than the total of 269 million euros ($283 million) lost during the 2019-20 campaign, which was called off with 10 matches left as the pandemic hit.

Even though that season ended early, clubs still grossed 170 million euros ($179 million) from ticket sales, a total that dropped massively last season to barely 8 million euros ($8.4 million).

For example, Paris Saint-Germain’s ticket receipts fell from 38 million euros ($40 million) to 961,000 euros ($1 million).

Lyon fared marginally better, dropping from 35.5 million euros ($37.3 million) to 2 million euros ($2.1 million).

A WORLD Cup legal dispute flared Thursday with Chile challenging Ecuador’s place at the finals tournament over an alleged ineligible player.

The Chilean soccer federation asked FIFA to investigate its claim that Ecuador player Byron Castillo is actually Colombian and not entitled to have played in qualifying games.

The complaint comes more than one month after South American qualifying ended and Ecuador was drawn into a group with host nation Qatar, the Netherlands and Senegal.

“FIFA can confirm that it has received a formal complaint from the Chilean FA in relation to this matter,” soccer’s governing body said in a statement.

FIFA gave no timetable for a possible disciplinary case ahead of the World Cup kicking off November 21.

Ecuador placed fourth in the 10-nation South American qualifying group to advance directly to Qatar. Fifth-place Peru has a playoff game next month against Australia or the United Arab Emirates.

Chile placed seventh, seven points behind Ecuador, but argues it could advance if games involving Castillo were forfeited.

The FIFA rules in cases of ineligible players require results to be overturned as a 3-0 loss.

Ecuador’s soccer federation issued a statement rejecting Chile‘s claims and insisting that Castillo is legally an Ecuadorian citizen.

Chile has now filed complaints against an opponent’s player in back-to-back World Cup qualifying programs.

In South American qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, Bolivia forfeited two games in which it fielded an ineligible player as a late substitute. FIFA had received complaints from Chile and Peru about Bolivia defender Nelson Cabrera, who was born in Paraguay and had previously played for Paraguay’s national team.

Bolivia lost an appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport which said FIFA was right to investigate even when protests were filed weeks after the games were played. That case ultimately harmed Chile. Three extra points awarded to Peru lifted it above Chile to enter an intercontinental playoff that it won.

FIFA wrote stricter rules for the 2022 World Cup requiring all players in qualifying games to produce a “valid permanent international passport” for inspection by match officials. AP

Image credits: AP