Spanish Soccer League

The race for most La Liga goals between Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo may come to a premature end after the Spanish soccer federation (RFEF) called for all domestic games to be suspended indefinitely starting May 16, the penultimate week of the season. The Copa del Rey final for Spain’s domestic cup between Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao will also be affected, as will lower-tier league play.

In total, more than 600, 000 athletes and 30, 000 matches will potentially be affected, the RFEF statement says.

The RFEF is calling for the suspension because of an ongoing dispute with the Spanish government over television revenue. In particular, the federation and the players’ union are using the suspension to protest a proposed law on the sale of said rights, as well as the division of income among the clubs. Per Goal.com:

Under old laws, Barcelona and Real Madrid earned three times as much as other clubs in the Primera Division as they were able to negotiate the sale of their own broadcasting rights, but the Spanish government gave the green light to a new ruling which would see 50 percent of TV money distributed evenly across the 20 top-flight teams.

The RFEF said in its statement that the law is incomplete.

“Problems with amateur football have not been resolved and there were no efforts made by the Minister of Education, Culture and Sports to find a solution during the last three months, ” the statement reads.

Just hours after RFEF announced its decision, La Liga pushed back, threatening legal action should the RFEF follow through with the suspension.

Tebas added that he sees the move as a personal vendetta of RFEF president Angel Maria Villar’s, who has long clashed with Miguel Cardenal, the president of the Spanish government’s higher sports council.

“It’s an insane, audacious and irresponsible act by Angel Maria Villar’s institution, which doesn’t know what course professional or amateur football should take, ” Tebas said at the press conference. “It’s a challenge to the league, and it only corresponds to a personal agenda … We won’t bow to the federation’s blackmail.”

Tebas, as league president, has argued that the new law will be necessary for the league to try to get a similar deal to the one struck in February by the English Premier League worth about 5 billion pounds ($7.4 billion) for the domestic rights alone for 2016-19.

Most Spanish clubs had been pushing for years for the centralized sale of TV rights, which they hope will lead to a more equitable sharing of the revenue. Currently, Madrid and Barcelona strike individual TV deals and take in about 140 million euros ($158 million) each, compared to the next biggest earners with about 40 million euros ($45 million). The new law, which needs to be approved by parliament, would take effect in 2016.

The league is scheduled an “extraordinary meeting” to discuss the matter on Monday, the AP reports.

The players, meanwhile have started to make their own statements, and most seem to be standing with the players’ union, which has expressed support for the RFEF’s call for a suspension.

On Thursday, the union tweeted out a clip of Messi answering a journalist’s question on Monday about what he thought of the proposed law, as well as a strike, which was only rumored at that point.


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