Marseille fined by UEFA but keeps Champions League place

<p>
              FILE - In this Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016 file photo, owner of the Olympique de Marseille soccer club, Frank McCourt, right, speaks to Olympique Marseille President Jacques-Henri Eyraud during the League One soccer match between Marseille and Caen, in Marseille, southern France. Marseille must pay UEFA several millions euros (dollars) for breaking rules that monitor club finances but retains its Champions League place. Their place in the Champions League group stage was earned by coach Andre Villas-Boas’s team being second to French champion Paris Saint-Germain when the league was ended early during the pandemic. Villas-Boas revived the 1993 European champion after being hired by Frank McCourt, the former Los Angeles Dodgers owner. (AP Photo/Claude Paris, file)
            </p>

NYON, Switzerland (AP) — French club Marseille was ordered to pay a fine of 3 million euros ($3.4 million) to UEFA on Friday for breaking rules that monitor club finances.

UEFA said the American-owned club will retain its place in next season’s Champions League but will forfeit 15% of its European competition prize money over the next two seasons.

Marseille’s place in the group stage of next season’s Champions League is worth tens of millions of euros (dollars). The three French clubs in the competition last season each got at least 41 million euros ($46 million) from UEFA.

Marseille’s squad will also be limited to 23 senior players instead of 25 for the next three seasons in UEFA club competitions.

The team, coached by André Villas-Boas, was in second place behind Paris Saint-Germain when the league was ended early amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Villas-Boas has revived the 1993 European champions after being hired by Frank McCourt, the former Los Angeles Dodgers owner.

The latest sanctions replace a settlement Marseille agreed to with UEFA last year for earlier breaches of Financial Fair Play rules which cost the club an initial 2 million euros ($2.2 million).

Marseille had agreed not to exceed a loss of 30 million euros ($33.6 million) under FFP calculations this season, and limit the ratio of player salaries compared to overall revenue.

UEFA’s signature FFP policy is aimed at stopping reckless spending on salaries and transfer fees, and can lead to bans from European competitions in the most severe cases.

Clubs which qualify for the Champions League or Europa League are required to submit accounts and show they have approached break-even on their player trading and commercial deals without relying on bailouts from wealthy owners.

Critics of FFP say it protects storied clubs with huge fan bases and commercial partners from being challenged by ambitious rivals.