French 1st division clubs lost $678 million last season

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

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

Match revenue took a huge hit as matches were held without fans from October and with a limited capacity set at 5,000 previously. Only Saint-Etienne, Rennes and Dijon – which was relegated – remained in the green.

The total amount lost was 140% higher than the €269m ($283m) total lost in the 2019-20 campaign, which was called off with 10 matches left when the pandemic hit.

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

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

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

A World Cup legal dispute erupted on Thursday with Chile contesting Ecuador’s place in the finals over a player deemed ineligible.

The Chilean football federation has asked FIFA to investigate its claim that Ecuadorian player Byron Castillo is in fact Colombian and not eligible to have played in the qualifying matches.

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

“FIFA can confirm that it has received an official complaint from the Chilean FA regarding this matter,” the football governing body said in a statement.

FIFA has given no timetable for a possible disciplinary case before the World Cup kicks off on November 21.

Ecuador placed fourth in the South American qualifying group of 10 nations to qualify directly for Qatar. Fifth-placed Peru will play a playoff match next month against Australia or the United Arab Emirates.

Chile finished seventh, seven points behind Ecuador, but say they could advance if games involving Castillo are called off.

FIFA rules for ineligible players require the results to be overturned as a 3-0 loss.

The Ecuadorian football federation issued a statement rejecting Chile’s claims and insisting that Castillo is legally an Ecuadorian citizen.

Chile have now lodged complaints against an opponent’s player in back-to-back World Cup qualifying programmes.

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

Bolivia lost an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport which said FIFA was right to investigate even when protests were filed weeks after the matches had ended. This case ultimately harmed Chile. Three extra points awarded to Peru lifted them above Chile to enter an intercontinental qualifier which they won.

FIFA have drafted stricter rules for the 2022 World Cup requiring all players in qualifying matches to produce a “valid permanent international passport” for inspection by match officials. PA

Picture credits: PA

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