Barcelona take Zenit to court over $525K bonus they missed out on

AP , Wednesday 7 Feb 2024

Barcelona are taking Zenit St. Petersburg to sport's highest court in pursuit of a bonus payment they missed out on after the Russian club was banned from the Champions League following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

FILE - Barcelona players hug teammate Malcolm, center, after he scored his side's first goal during the Copa del Rey semifinal first-leg football match between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, on Feb. 6, 2019. Photo: AP


Barcelona claim they are owed $525,000 from Zenit because of a clause in the transfer deal that saw Brazil winger Malcom join the Russian club in 2019.

That deal required Zenit to pay Barcelona 490,000 euros ($525,000) each time they qualified for the Champions League group stage in a season where Malcom had played in at least half its domestic league games.

But FIFA ruled last year that Zenit didn't have to pay that money after it was excluded from the 2022-23 Champions League season as part of a UEFA ban on Russian clubs, even though it had won the domestic league title to qualify for the competition.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport said Wednesday it scheduled a hearing on March 22 to resolve the dispute.

Zenit earned 41 million euros ($44 million) in UEFA prize money from the Champions League group stage in the 2021-22 season — its last appearance in the competition.

In the FIFA ruling, judge Thulaganyo Gaoshubelwe said Zenit should not be obliged to “share an economical profit which it never obtained,” and added that the war in Ukraine was a fact “not directly ascribable to (Zenit).”

Zenit agreed to pay 40 million euros ($43 million) plus future bonuses for Malcom in August 2019, Barcelona said at the time of the transfer.

Zenit sold Malcom last July to Saudi club Al-Hilal for a reported 60 million euros (then $66 million).

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