Real Madrid v Manchester United - UEFA Champions League Round of 16

Real Madrid, Barcelona under investigation from EU


Turns out the two richest teams in Spain may be in very big trouble.

Real Madrid and Barcelona top the list of seven Spanish teams under investigation by the European Union (EU) over irregular public funding, as the European Commission starts a lengthy process to put the top Spanish clubs under the spotlight.

Osasuna, Athletic Bilbao, Valencia, Elche and second-tier Hercules are the other sides in question, as Madrid, Barca, Athletic Bilbao and Osasuna are accused of a corporate tax advantage of 5%.

One of the most severe allegations is against Real, who are said to have sold training ground land to the City of Madrid at an over-inflated price of 22.7m euros. ($31.9 million) While Valencia-based clubs Valencia, Hercules and Elche have apparently been handed up to $104 million in state-backed loans.

The clubs, if found guilty, would have to pay the vast sums of money back to the Spanish government.

However, Spain’s foreign minister Jose Manuel Garcia Margallo denied the clubs had broken EU rules. “The government will fight to defend Spanish clubs because they’re also part of the Spanish brand.”

While all this is happening under the looming cloud of Financial Fair Play coming into force in European soccer. FFP lurking in the background has made these allegations all the more harmful as it looks as though Spanish teams are trying to get their houses in order before strict financial regulations hit them hard. Under new rules large amounts of spending beyond their means and taking out loans will be limited as teams are encouraged to only spend the money the generate from endorsements, ticket sales and prize money.

Clearly the big boys in Spain can’t keep snapping up the biggest names in world soccer with only limited revenue streams to rely on.

The European Commission is in charge of the proceedings and its likely to take months to decipher whether or not the clubs acted incorrectly. But let’s break down one particular area, Madrid’s land by their training ground which they sold to the state.

According to a statement from the commission:

“Real Madrid appears to have benefited from a very advantageous real property swap with the City of Madrid. This swap was based on a re-evaluation of a plot of land at a value of 22.7m euros, instead of its earlier supposed value in 1998 of 595,000 euros.”

When City officials, businessman and soccer clubs are all involved, things like this happen quite a lot. But the sheer discrepancy in the value of that land is mind boggling.

It seems as though Spanish soccer is going to be under the spotlight and scrutinized for many months ahead.

EURO 2016: Who’s headed to France?

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC - OCTOBER 10: Volkan Sen of Turkey in action during the UEFA EURO 2016 Group A Qualifier match between Czech Republic and Turkey at Letna Stadium on October 10, 2015 in Prague, Czech Republic. (Photo by Matej Divizna/Getty Images)
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The group stage of qualification is complete, as 20 teams have clinched a berth at EURO 2016, which kicks off next summer in France.

The top-two finishers in each group automatically qualified, as did the best third-place side out of all the groups (Turkey). France qualified automatically as the host nation.

[ MORE: EURO 2016 roundup ]

That leaves eight third-place teams to battle for the final four spots through a play-off. The draw for the matchups will take place on October 18, and those matches will be held from November 12-17 as a home-and-home play-off.

Group A

  1. Czech Republic
  2. Iceland
  3. Turkey (automatically qualified as best third-place side)

Group B

  1. Belgium
  2. Wales
  3. Bosnia and Herzegovina (qualified for play-off)

Group C

  1. Spain
  2. Slovakia
  3. Ukraine (qualified for play-off)

Group D

  1. Germany
  2. Poland
  3. Republic of Ireland (qualified for play-off)

Group E

  1. England
  2. Switzerland
  3. Slovenia (qualified for play-off)

Group F

  1. Northern Ireland
  2. Romania
  3. Hungary (qualified for play-off)

Group G

  1. Austria
  2. Russia
  3. Sweden (qualified for play-off)

Group H

  1. Italy
  2. Croatia
  3. Norway (qualified for play-off)

Group I

  1. Portugal
  2. Albania
  3. Denmark (qualified for play-off)

EURO 2016: Dutch disaster as Netherlands fail to qualify

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - OCTOBER 13:  Robin van Persie of the Netherlands (19) reacts during the UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying Group A match between the Netherlands and the Czech Republic at Amsterdam Arena on October 13, 2015 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
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The group stage of qualifying for the 2016 European Championship has come to a close, and one of the top teams in the world will not be playing in France next summer.

Netherlands 2-3 Czech Republic

The Netherlands finished second at the 2010 World Cup and third at the 2014 World Cup, but have failed to qualify for EURO 2016. Playing in front of a home crowd in a must-win match against the Czech Republic, the Dutch got off to a dreadful start, falling behind 2-0 as manager Danny Blind was forced to make a substitution within the opening 40 minutes. The Czech Republic was sent to ten men before the break, but an own-goal from Robin Van Persie made it 3-0 as the Dutch couldn’t recover. A disastrous result for the Netherlands, as big changes will surely come from the top down.

[ RELATED: David de Gea fighting for starting goalkeeper position with Spain ]

Italy 2-1 Norway

Italy finishes atop Group H without a loss after defeating Norway 2-1 today. Norway took the lead through Norwich City’s Alexander Tettey, but late goals from Alessandro Florenzi and Southampton’s Graziano Pelle gave the Italians all three points.

Malta 0-1 Croatia

With Norway’s loss, Croatia jumped into second place in Group H and secured qualification to EURO 2016 with a 1-0 win away at Malta. Inter Milan’s Ivan Perisic scored the game’s only goal, as Croatia advances despite having one point deducted due to inappropriate actions from their fans.

Elsewhere in EURO qualifying

Group A

Turkey 1-0 Iceland
Latvia 0-1 Kazakhstan

Group B

Belgium 3-1 Israel
Wales 2-0 Andorra
Cyprus 2-3 Bosnia and Herzegovina

Group H

Bulgaria 2-0 Azerbaijan