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Doyen Sports to challenge FIFA ban on third-party ownership in court - report

Hedge fund Doyen Sports has filed a complaint with a French court to overturn FIFA's ban on third-party ownership (TPO) of players, Bloomberg reports.

Based in Malta, Doyen Sports is controlled by a small group of investors, and has acquired €80.4 million of players' rights from clubs since 2011, according to the papers.

Doyen Sports Investments Ltd., a unit of Doyen Capital LLP, filed the complaint with a Paris court regarding the ban on investors acquiring football player's transfer rights.

Doyen is accusing the footballing authorities of breaking several European Union regulations with the restriction, which will come into into force on May 1.

The French court has reportedly ordered FIFA, UEFA, the French federation and league to appear before judges on May 28.

According to the complaint, a global ban on TPO would force Doyen Sports to shut down within a few months. Doyen Sports' CEO Nelio Lucas declined to comment on the court action and FIFA didn't immediately return an e-mail from Bloomberg seeking comment.

Doyen currently represents players including Juventus' Alvaro Morata, Valencia's Alvaro Negredo and Sevilla's Jose Antonio Reyes.

The Premier League has already banned TPO, but it remains a common practice in South America as well as in Spain and Portugal.

The Spanish and Portuguese professional leagues said in early February that they plan to challenge FIFA's TPO ban to the European Union's competition commission.

"The prohibition of TPO constitutes an economic agreement that restricts the economic liberty of clubs, players and third parties without any justification or proportionality," the leagues said in a joint statement.

Sporting Lisbon president Bruno de Carvalho said in August 2014 he expected to face Doyen in court over the controversial transfer of Marcos Rojo to Manchester United.

Marcos Rojo's transfer from Sporting to Manchester United caused controversy last summer due to Doyen's involvement.

Carvalho was angry at Doyen Sports' involvement in the departure of Rojo last summer and suggested that the group offered the Argentine for transfer without the permission of Sporting and the club's management, saying: "Of course [Rojo was offered to clubs]. To all the world. To everybody."

UEFA president Michel Platini has defended the ban on TPO, labelling the practice "shameful"and a form of "slavery."

Portuguese super agent Jorge Mendes, whose clients include Cristiano Ronaldo, James Rodriguez and Jose Mourinho, called FIFA's move to ban the practice as "catastrophic" and would like to see the courts overturn it.


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