Madrid - An EU court delivered a legal win for Barcelona, Real Madrid and two
other top Spanish clubs Tuesday, cancelling a 2016 ruling by Brussels
that had penalised them over tax breaks.
The General Court of the European Union, the bloc's second highest
tribunal, said the European Commission had "erred in its assessment of
the facts" when it ruled that the tax arrangements amounted to illegal
state aid to the clubs.
Tuesday's ruling means the clubs do not have to repay millions of
euros to the Spanish authorities, as they had been ordered to do in the
After a two-and-a-half year probe, the commission, which acts as the
EU's anti-trust enforcer, ruled that tax arrangements Spain gave four
clubs - Real, Barca, Athletic Bilbao and Osasuna - breached the bloc's
rules on state aid.
But after a challenge by Barcelona, the Luxembourg-based General
Court said that the commission had "not shown to the requisite legal
standard that the measure at issue conferred an advantage on its
beneficiaries" and threw out the 2016 decision.
Under European Union anti-trust rules, governments are not allowed to
provide state aid to commercial enterprises if it distorts market
The commission ruling said the four clubs were treated as non-profit
organisations, which pay a lower tax rate than other professional clubs
registered as limited liability companies.