French govt hails gains from Euro 2016 despite shattered image of football partnerships

Maria Nikolova

Michel Sapin, who was the main proponent of the law banning Forex and binary options sponsorships of football clubs in France, hails gains from Euro 2016.

The issue of football clubs’ financing has become a sensitive one over the past few years. Bribery, money laundering and conflicts of interests are typical suspicions – one can find an example in one of the latest reports by the Netherlands’ central bank. France, of course, outweighed every other jurisdiction in terms of its harsh stance regarding football clubs’ funding, as it banned FCs from all partnerships that result in or include advertising of risky financial products.

The law, known as Sapin II, effectively puts an end to all sorts of collaborations with firms that offer binary options, currency contracts and certain CFDs.

The new law has come into effect, but that did not prevent its most active proponent – France’s finance minister Michel Sapin, from being the first to praise the economic boost received from the Euro 2016 football championship.

Mr Sapin hailed the international influence that the hosting and organization of such a top event have brought to France. On top of these symbolic aspects, he also reiterated “the importance for the government to appreciate the economic benefits” of the championship.

  • These benefits include a EUR 1.22 billion economic boost – EUR 596 million generated by the organization of the event and EUR 625.8 million generated thanks to tourism.
  • Furthermore, during the month of the competition France welcomed 613,000 unique visitors. Each of them spent on average 8 days in France, with the average visitor spending being EUR 154 a day.
  • The fiscal receipts that went to state coffers totalled EUR 75 million, of which VAT receipts were EUR 70 million.

These numbers have all been revealed on the French government’s web page and are followed by the rosy appraisals of the event by a raft of French ministers, starting with Michel Sapin.

The words of Minister of Urban Affairs, Youth and Sport Patrick Kanner say it all:

“These good results are not the product of chance. We have actively participated in the structuring of a sector of the sports economy.”

The French government is obviously assessing football as an economic activity. However, there is a huge dichotomy between hailing the benefits of football one day and slamming its reputation by blasting football clubs over partnerships with online trading firms the next. It is not in tune with journalistic ethics to use words like “hypocrisy” in a news article, but perhaps the word “discrepancy” describes the difference in attitude of French government officials towards football. And that is worth considering.

French football clubs have rushed to drop partnerships with online trading firms, since it became clear that the Sapin 2 law will prohibit such forms of marketing. The list of sports teams that have already put an end to such deals includes PSG, Olympique lyonnais and OGC Nice.

The trend of FCs putting an end to partnerships with binary options providers is apparent outside of France too. In September last year, following a successful FinanceFeeds lobbying campaign, Southampton FC terminated its sponsorship agreement with Banc de Binary. That was, obviously, the right move to make, as on January 11, 2017, the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC) announced the renouncement of the Cyprus Investment Firm (CIF) license of Banc de Binary.

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