Ferran Soriano has claimed Manchester City’s two-year Champions League ban is “less about justice and more about politics”.
The chief executive is the first club figure to speak since City were found to have seriously misled Uefa and broken financial fair play rules. The Premier League champions, who were also fined €30m (£25m), say they are innocent and are to appeal to the court of arbitration for sport.
“Based on our experience and our perception this seems to be less about justice and more about politics,” Sorriano told City’s website, without explaining what politics he was referring to. He added: “Of course a lot of people come now and say: ‘Well what were you expecting? This is the way it works. You should have expected a negative outcome the way the system is designed.’ But we didn’t believe that.
“We worked very hard. We provided the evidence but in the end this FFP investigatory chamber relied more on out-of-context stolen emails than all the other evidence we provided of what actually happened and I think it is normal that we feel like we feel.”
Emails were published by Der Speigel, a German media outlet. Soriano, who described the players as calm and focused, hopes the appeal to the Cas will be heard swiftly.
He said: “We are looking for an early resolution obviously through a thorough process and a fair process, so my best hope is that this will be finished before the beginning of the summer and until then for us, it is business as usual.”
Soriano also dismissed the ruling by the adjudicatory chamber of Uefa’s club financial control body (CFCB) that City failed to co-operate in the investigation.
“We did co-operate with this process,” he said. “We delivered a long list of documents and support that we believe is irrefutable evidence that the claims are not true. It was hard because we did this in the context of information being leaked to the media in the context of feeling that every step of the way, every engagement we had, we felt that we were considered guilty before anything was even discussed. But at the end, this is an internal process that has been initiated and then prosecuted and then judged by this FFP chamber at Uefa.”
The chair of the investigatory committee, Yves Leterme, has strongly denied leaks or “unlawful activities” by the CFBC.
Soriano reiterated City’s insistence that they have done nothing wrong. “These allegations are simply not true,” he said. “The owner has not put money in this club that has not been properly declared. We are a sustainable football club, we are profitable, we don’t have debt, our accounts have been scrutinised many times, by auditors, by regulators, by investors and this is perfectly clear.”
Soriano tried to distance the investigatory chamber from the rest of Uefa. “The experience with this FFP IC has been negative for us, more than what I would have imagined. But this is not Uefa. We are not talking about the whole of Uefa, which is an association of associations. I personally know many people that work at Uefa, very hard for the benefit of Uefa, but also for the benefit of the clubs of Uefa like ours, but also for the benefit of football. If the negative experience that we had and the way this process went is negative, it is negative also for them. Uefa is much bigger than this FFP Chamber.”