Barcelona is taking legal action against Zenit St. Petersburg at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the highest court in sports, over a bonus payment they say they’re owed. This case ties back to the transfer of Brazilian player Malcom to Zenit in 2019, which included a clause promising Barcelona a payment every time Zenit made it to the Champions League group stage.
However, the situation took a complicated turn due to geopolitical tensions. After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, UEFA banned Russian clubs from its competitions, including the Champions League. This meant Zenit, even though they won their domestic league and qualified for the Champions League, couldn’t participate in the 2022-23 season.
Following this, FIFA ruled that Zenit didn’t have to pay Barcelona the bonus, reasoning that Zenit couldn’t earn any profit from the Champions League because they were banned from participating.
The disagreement centers around USD 525,000 that Barcelona expected to receive when Zenit qualified for the Champions League while Malcom was playing for them. Despite the unexpected circumstances leading to Zenit’s ban, Barcelona is pressing forward with its claim for the money.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport has set March 22 as the date to hear this case. This legal battle is not just about the money but also highlights how international events, like geopolitical conflicts, can impact football, affecting clubs and their agreements.
Before the conflict, Zenit had a successful run in the Champions League, earning significant prize money. The club’s decision to sell Malcom to Al Hilal for a considerable profit further complicates the narrative, intertwining football’s business aspects with the unforeseen consequences of international politics.