Case details

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Anticompetitive practices
Case reference
PRC/2020/1
Entities involved
  • Académico de Viseu Futebol Clube - Futebol SAD
  • Associação Académica de Coimbra - Organismo Autónomo de Futebol, SDUQ, Lda.
  • Boavista Futebol Clube - Futebol, SAD
  • Casa Pia Atlético Clube - Futebol Sduq, Lda
  • CD Tondela – Futebol SAD
  • Clube Desportivo da Cova da Piedade – Futebol SAD
  • Clube Desportivo das Aves - Futebol SAD - Sociedade em Liquidação
  • Clube Desportivo de Mafra - Futebol SDUQ, Lda.
  • Clube Desportivo Feirense - Futebol SAD
  • Estoril Praia - Futebol, SAD
  • Futebol Clube de Famalicão - Futebol SAD
  • Futebol Clube de Paços de Ferreira, SDUQ, Lda.
  • Futebol Clube de Penafiel SAD
  • Futebol Clube do Porto, Futebol, SAD
  • Gil Vicente Futebol Clube – Futebol, SDUQ, Lda.
  • Leixões Sport Clube Futebol - SAD
  • Liga Portuguesa de Futebol Profissional
  • Marítimo da Madeira Futebol, SAD
  • Moreirense Futebol Clube - Futebol, SAD
  • Os Belenenses – Sociedade Desportiva de Futebol, SAD
  • Portimonense Futebol, SAD
  • Rio Ave Futebol Clube – Futebol SDUQ, Lda.
  • Santa Clara Açores - Futebol, SAD
  • Sport Lisboa e Benfica - Futebol, SAD
  • Sporting Clube da Covilhã - Futebol, SDUQ, Lda
  • Sporting Clube de Braga, Futebol, SAD
  • Sporting Clube de Portugal – Futebol, SAD
  • União Desportiva Oliveirense - Futebol, SDUQ, Lda.
  • União Desportiva Vilafranquense - Futebol, SAD
  • Varzim Sport Club - Futebol, SDUQ Lda.
  • Vitória Futebol Clube - SAD
  • Vitória Sport Clube - Futebol, SAD
Natural persons involved
No
Sector
Tourism & leisure activities
Activity (NACE)
R - Arts, entertainment, sports and recreation activities
Investigated practice
Horizontal agreement
Legal provisions
  • European-TFEU-Article 101
  • National-Law 19/2012-Article 9
Case origin
Ex-officio
Dawn raids
No
Cooperation with sector regulators
Status
Closed
AdC’s decision
Interim measures, Sanctioning decision
Settlement
No settlement.
Sanction imposed
  • Académico de Viseu Futebol Clube - Futebol SAD - €24,000.00
  • Associação Académica de Coimbra - Organismo Autónomo de Futebol, SDUQ, Lda. - €24,000.00
  • Boavista Futebol Clube - Futebol, SAD - €99,000.00
  • Casa Pia Atlético Clube - Futebol Sduq, Lda - €8,000.00
  • CD Tondela – Futebol SAD - €139,000.00
  • Clube Desportivo da Cova da Piedade – Futebol SAD - €32,000.00
  • Clube Desportivo de Mafra - Futebol SDUQ, Lda. - €20,000.00
  • Clube Desportivo Feirense - Futebol SAD - €22,000.00
  • Estoril Praia - Futebol, SAD - €27,000.00
  • Futebol Clube de Famalicão - Futebol SAD - €192,000.00
  • Futebol Clube de Paços de Ferreira, SDUQ, Lda. - €137,000.00
  • Futebol Clube de Penafiel SAD - €15,000.00
  • Futebol Clube do Porto, Futebol, SAD - €2,582,000.00
  • Gil Vicente Futebol Clube – Futebol, SDUQ, Lda. - €164,000.00
  • Leixões Sport Clube Futebol - SAD - €19,000.00
  • Liga Portuguesa de Futebol Profissional - €141,000.00
  • Marítimo da Madeira Futebol, SAD - €199,000.00
  • Moreirense Futebol Clube - Futebol, SAD - €152,000.00
  • Os Belenenses – Sociedade Desportiva de Futebol, SAD - €135,000.00
  • Portimonense Futebol, SAD - €111,000.00
  • Rio Ave Futebol Clube – Futebol SDUQ, Lda. - €163,000.00
  • Santa Clara Açores - Futebol, SAD - €132,000.00
  • Sport Lisboa e Benfica - Futebol, SAD - €4,163,000.00
  • Sporting Clube da Covilhã - Futebol, SDUQ, Lda - €26,000.00
  • Sporting Clube de Braga, Futebol, SAD - €340,000.00
  • Sporting Clube de Portugal – Futebol, SAD - €1,666,000.00
  • União Desportiva Oliveirense - Futebol, SDUQ, Lda. - €16,000.00
  • União Desportiva Vilafranquense - Futebol, SAD - €14,000.00
  • Varzim Sport Club - Futebol, SDUQ Lda. - €26,000.00
  • Vitória Futebol Clube - SAD - €3,326.00
  • Vitória Sport Clube - Futebol, SAD - €506,000.00
Summary of the case
On 13 April 2021, the AdC (Portuguese Competition Authority) has issued for the first time Statements of Objections for an agreement not to hire workers, in this case involving the Portuguese Professional Football League and 31 sports companies.

This is the first decision regarding an anti-competitive practice in the labour market, that may occur in any sector of activity and is punishable under the Competition Law.

The AdC issued Statements of Objections to 31 sports companies participating in the 2019/2020 edition of the First and Second Leagues and the Portuguese Professional Football League (LPFP) for a competition restrictive agreement.
The agreement prevented the hiring by First and Second League of professional football clubs, of players who unilaterally terminated their employment contract invoking issues caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

As a result of this agreement, a player who ceased his contract mentioning pandemic-related reasons could not be hired by another club in the First or Second Professional Football Leagues in Portugal, and could only be hired by a club if it was located outside of Portugal or if it participated in a competition below the two main professional leagues in Portugal.

Through a non-hiring (no-poach),  agreement companies abstain from hiring each other's workers, therefore renouncing to competition for the acquisition of human resources, in addition to depriving workers of labour mobility.

In the present case, the agreement is able to reduce the quality of football matches and thereby to harm consumers by reducing the competitive environment between clubs, preventing the hiring of players that could fill gaps in teams, and resulting in the loss of players in national competitions.

The case was opened by the AdC in May 2020, following two press releases issued by the LPFP on 7 and 8 April which referred to a deliberation/decision, adopted by agreement between the First League clubs, with the participation of the President of the LPFP, and to which the Second League clubs adhered.

This deliberation/decision stated that clubs would not hire players who unilaterally terminated their employment due to issues caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Given the nature and characteristics of the behaviour, as well as the potential damage, serious and irreparable, or of difficult reparation, arising from it for the competitive functioning of the markets, the AdC determined, the implementation of interim measures on 26 May, 2020.
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