Mexican Watchdog Goes After Soccer Clubs In First No-Poach Probe

Mexico’s antitrust authority fined more than a dozen soccer clubs and the Mexican Football Federation (FMF) in a historic move over salary caps for female players and labor movement restrictions.

The FMF, 17 clubs and eight unidentified people were handed fines totaling 177.6 million pesos (US$8.9 million), according to a statement by COFECE, the antitrust authority.

After the women’s league was created in 2016, the clubs colluded to impose ceilings on female players’ salaries of between 500 pesos (US$25) and 2,000 pesos (US$100) monthly, COFECE stated. Younger players in the Under-17 category were not paid a salary, only provided with aid for education and food.

The FMF sent communications to “persuade” the clubs to adhere to the limits and verified that they were in compliance, COFECE alleged.

In the 2018-19 season, the agreement was modified and salary ceilings were set at 15,000 pesos (US$750) monthly.

“The practice… not only had a negative impact on their income, but also had the consequence of widening the gender pay gap,” COFECE stated of the impact on players in a statement.

The fined clubs and the FMF for a decade applied a so-called “gentlemen’s agreement” through which clubs maintained the right to retain players even after their contracts expired.

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