Mexico City, September 24, 2021.
The Federal Economic Competition Commission ("COFECE") published yesterday having resolved the proceeding followed in the form of a trial processed in file IO-002-2018 in the market for the signing of professional soccer players in the national territory. The proceeding concluded with the imposition of fines totaling 177.6 million pesos to 17 soccer clubs in the Liga MX for their responsibility in absolute monopolistic practices. Likewise, it sanctioned the Mexican Soccer Federation and 8 individuals for contributing to these practices.
The sanctioned clubs engaged in two conducts in this market: (i) the imposition of maximum caps on the salaries of female soccer players from November 2016 to May 2019 in order to prevent clubs from competing for the hiring of players with better salaries, which COFECE determined constituted anticompetitive price fixing; and (ii) the segmentation in the players' market by establishing a mechanism that prevented them from negotiating to freely contract with new teams (commonly called gentleman's agreement) from June 2008 to December 2018 in order to unduly restrict the mobility of athletes and limit their bargaining power to obtain better salaries.
This resolution is particularly relevant because COFECE analyzed competition in a human resources market related to the salaries and mobility of individuals (players) hired by different competitors (clubs). First, it analyzed the imposition of maximum salaries of maximum female soccer players as a coordinated price fixing among the different leading clubs of Mexican soccer, from the perspective of economic competition; and second, it considered that the restriction of mobility of players imposed by competitors (clubs) implies a market segmentation from the perspective of economic competition.
This resolution is also groundbreaking in terms of gender equity and competition, as it highlights the salary gap between the women's and men's soccer leagues. Likewise, by sanctioning the imposition of maximum salaries on female soccer players and imposing an end to such conduct, it is expected that the salary conditions of women in the women's league will be more competitive.
The legality of COFECE's action may still be challenged before the Federal Judicial Power. However, the Mexican Soccer Federation, together with the sanctioned clubs, reiterated its commitment to abide by and not challenge the resolution issued by COFECE.
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A T T E N T A M E N T,