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Football clubs do too little against money laundering

For more than a year, professional clubs in Belgium have been required to participate in the fight against money laundering practices in the world of football. But according to the checks carried out by the public authorities, no club is in order.

Since July 1 of last year, football clubs have been required to report suspicious transactions to the Ctif, the anti-money laundering unit. The latter analyzes the reports and sends them, if necessary, to justice. Clubs must carry out risk analyses, carry out internal controls, verify the identity of counterparties, scrutinize transactions, etc. The FPS Economy, for its part, checks whether the clubs have done what is necessary.

These new obligations follow the scandals that shook professional football in Belgium. More than a year after the introduction of the new obligations, it appears that none of the clubs that have been checked are in order. Verification made with the FPS Economy, nine clubs were checked and shortcomings were noted with each of them. Lien Meurisse, SPF spokesperson: “The breaches relate to identity verification and transaction-level risk analysis.”



Suspicions may relate to transactions involving persons already implicated in the past or transactions involving tax havens.

It is not specified which clubs it is. No administrative sanctions have been imposed so far. Die: “The clubs receive a warning. Further checks will be carried out later. For some clubs, there is still work to be done. The legislation is new and requires a new internal organization on the part of the clubs.”

Football is priority

For the Ctif, football is a priority. Last year, the Belgian Union made ten reports concerning suspicious transactions to which we can add four reports from three clubs. Suspicions may relate to transactions involving persons already implicated in the past or transactions involving tax havens. The Ctif is receiving more and more reports, confirms secretary-general Kris Meskens, who says he is satisfied with the seriousness and usability of the information transmitted.



“Belgian football is the only one in the world to be subjected to preventive tests in terms of money laundering.”

Lorin Parys

Pro League CEO

Belgian football is the only one in the world to be subjected to preventive tests in terms of money laundering. It’s a new exercise and certainly not easy for the clubs”, underlines Lorin Parys, who has chaired the Pro League since last April. “Give our clubs a little more time. We are at the beginning of a process that requires time and energy. We work proactively with the FPS Economy, because we share the same objectives.”

Club Brugge and RSC Anderlecht are the most advanced: they have hired a compliance manager to fulfill these new obligations. Neither has been checked so far. “We apply anti-money laundering legislation in our day-to-day operations and we have invested,” said Club Brugge CFO Nicky Laukens.

“However, we still have some problems with the implementation,” he continues. “Thus, there is still no royal decree which sets out how the football sector must apply the law. The current law was drafted at the time for banks before being extended to other sectors, such as diamond dealers and notaries. But our sector also has its specificity. Consider, for example, the transfer market. The law provides that all counterparties, whether agents or other clubs, must be screened in detail, in particular as to the origin of the funds, before they can sign the contract. But these obligations are only valid in Belgium while the transfer market is international. We would like all of this to be settled on a European scale, or even better on a global scale.”

The summary

  • Since July 1 of last year, football clubs have been required to report suspicious transactions to the Ctif.
  • So far nine clubs have been checked and shortcomings have been observed at each of them.
  • It is a new exercise and certainly not easy for clubsdefends the Pro League.
  • the Club Brugge and RSC Anderlechtwho have hired a compliance manager to fulfill these new obligations, are the most advanced.
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