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Courts to decide on Messi’s situation within hours, lawyer says

Paris, Aug 9 (EFE).- The lawsuits filed with civil and administrative courts in France to prevent Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) from signing Lionel Messi will be ruled upon “in a question of hours,” attorney Juan Branco, who represents a group of partners from Barcelona, told EFE.

Branco said that he represents the interests of a group from the southeastern French city of Lyon. Simultaneous to this court proceeding, the group has also asked the European Commission to act on the matter claiming that a “distortion” in the internal market is being created by PSG’s alleged violation of “financial fair-play.”

The 31-year-old attorney, who is famous for representing Julian Assange in France, said that the French administrative justice system will rule within the next 48 hours on the lawsuit and complaint filed at midday on Monday seeking to “suspend” Messi’s signing with PSG while a definitive legal decision is awaited.

“In legal terms, we’re going to end up winning. The problem is that we’re arriving too late, if Messi has already signed when the court issues its ruling. Then, we will only have retroactive sanctions” available,” he said.

If the soccer icon signs before a court decision is reached, plaintiffs also will be unable to invoke the “urgency” element in the proceedings, Branco added.

The plaintiffs claim that PSG will violate the “financial fair-play” rules by signing Messi – meaning the that the balance between expenses and earnings will no longer exist – and thus a “distortion” in competitiveness between the Spanish soccer league and the French one will arise.

“The French League has decided to postpone sanctions on those who don’t comply with those rules until 2023, that is after the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Until then, PSG can do whatever it wants, while Barcelona has to abide by that regulation,” he said.

That is why Branco presented the complaint to the EC authorities. “They’ve given us an acknowledgement of receipt,” he said, but he admitted that the process could take up to a year.

Branco said that he is preparing a third court filing: a protective measure that prevents Messi’s contract from being approved in France if ultimately he does sign it. To do that, the French pro soccer league must be notified.

Finally, the attorney admitted that his clients are fighting against “big powers,” saying that “We know that the French government supports Messi’s arrival.”

He also criticized the Barcelona leadership, saying that “We don’t understand why they don’t join this fight. They will not want to get Messi angry, or Qatar,” given that that nation is hosting the 2022 World Cup.

PSG has been owned by a Qatari investment fund for about a decade.

Branco had said in an earlier statement that the filing demands provisional suspension before civil and administrative courts in France.

“PSG’s ratios in terms of ‘financial fair play’ are worse than those of FC Barcelona. In the 2019/20 season, the ratio between salaries and income for the Parisian team was 99 percent, while that of Barcelona was the 54 percent,” he said.

“It is inconceivable that the ‘financial fair-play’ serves to aggravate the drifts of football-business and the instrumentalization of football by sovereign powers, and the distortion of competitions,” he said.

Branco said in his statement that his clients would ask the authorities “to intervene immediately in order to block this operation.”

At a weekend press conference attended by Messi, his wife, three children and his teammates, many of whom were also in tears, the six-time Ballon d’Or winner bade farewell to the club for which he has played since the age of 13.

“This is very difficult for me. After so many years, being here my entire life, I’m not ready for this,” Messi said.

Last year, the Barcelona forward had announced that he wanted to leave the club, but he later withdrew the request because he knew that finding a team that could match his transfer clause of 700 million euros would be impossible.

A change in the leadership of the club with the reinstatement of Joan Laporta appeared to signal a new era at Barcelona, with the new president making keeping the Argentine superstar his number one priority this summer.

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