European football welcomes EU AML rules to ‘tackle financial crime’
Credit: effective stock photos / Shutterstock

European football has responded to new AML requirements introduced last week by the EU. Football leadership details that it will work closely with political authorities moving forward.

In a statement following its 48th General Assembly, the European Leagues (EL) – an association representing the national football leagues of various European nations – noted the adoption of a new AML toolkit by the European Parliament.

The EU legislature’s decision has seen several new AML tools approved and integrated into the bloc’s civilian law. Formal approval is now needed from the Council of Europe for full finalisation.

This AML toolkit contains some specific stipulations for football. From 2029 clubs will be classed as ‘obliged entities’ within the legislation. This will make teams subject to some AML due diligence standards.

Top-tier professional football clubs involved in high-value transactions with investors or sponsors, including advertisers and the transfer of players, will have to verify customer identities, monitor transactions and report any suspicious transactions to the EU’s Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs).

The EL commented on AML rules in its statement: “The Leagues share the EU’s objective to tackle financial crime and will work closely with its members to ensure optimal national implementation of EU rules to support the continued growth of Europe’s diverse football landscape.”

A total of 31 European football leagues are represented by the European Leagues, including England’s Premier League, Spain’s LaLiga, Germany’s Bundesliga, France’s Ligue 1, Italy’s Serie A and the Scottish Premiership.

It is no secret that football is a big money business – five of the abovementioned leagues (England, Spain, Germany, Italy and France) rank in the top 10 sports leagues in the world by valuation. 

The sport also sees significant sums spent in transactions, such as on players, as well as in commercial matters such as media rights deals and sponsorship arrangements with companies from a range of industries.

The EU is keen to ensure this high-value, high-spending enterprise, in which various stakeholders have an interest, is subject to the same AML standards as other big budget industries.

This is not the only area the EU addressed, however. The legislation has also approved a cross-border AML authority, a long-term objective for legislators, and due diligence for banks, assets and crypto assets, managers or real and virtual estate agents.