* Atletico, Malaga and Sporting among those affected
* Clubs not taking rules seriously, says Rummenigge
(adds ECA comments, Malaga statement)
Sept 11 Europa League winners Atletico Madrid
were among 23 clubs to have prize money withheld as European
soccer's governing body UEFA revealed the first sanctions under
its financial fair play rules on Tuesday.
The measures were announced as members of the European Clubs
Association (ECA), which represents more than 200 clubs, were
warned at a meeting in Geneva that some of them were not taking
the new rules seriously.
"ECA members unanimously endorsed the financial fair play
project back in 2010," said ECA president Karl-Heinz Rummenigge,
who is also Bayern Munich's chief executive.
"However, it seems that quite a few clubs have not
understood the message. Time has come to take the new rules
seriously. ECA will continue to support financial fair play."
ECA also heard from former Belgian Prime Minister Jean-Luc
Dehaene, who heads the UEFA committee charged with enforcing the
new financial rules.
"I am still very worried about the current situation," he
told clubs, according to an ECA statement.
"The Financial Fair Play Regulations are known for more than
two years, but I have the impression that some clubs still need
to do their homework."
UEFA said the 23 clubs, who also include Qatari-owned La
Liga side Malaga and Portugal's Sporting, were found to have
"important" overdue payments to other teams, their own employees
or social and tax authorities.
As a result their money for taking part in European
competition would be withheld pending further investigation,
UEFA said in a statement.
The clubs will have to provide an updated report on Sept. 30
to Dehaene's committee.
"This ... measure will remain in force until all identified
balances have been settled in full or until a final decision by
the (UEFA committee) is taken," said UEFA.
Among other clubs under investigation are Dinamo Bucharest
and Rapid Bucharest of Romania, Turkey's Fenerbahce and Serbia's
All are involved in this season's UEFA competitions.
There were no clubs from the English Premier League, German
Bundesliga, Italy's Serie A or France's Ligue 1 among the clubs
Malaga recognised they owed money to the Spanish tax service
and said they were trying to reach an settlement.
"One month ago, an internal restructuring process was
started to guarantee the future viability of the club," Malaga
said in a statement.
"In this process, the club has normalised its financial
situation with other clubs, employees and players and has
started negotiations with the tax service, with which the club
has not reached a final agreement although we have reduced the
amount owed considerably in the last month."
UEFA approved the introduction of the far-reaching financial
fair play rules in 2009 in a bid to reduce debt and introduce
better and more transparent financial dealings among clubs
playing in its competitions.
UEFA president Michel Platini said the measures have been
introduced to stop clubs from spending their way into oblivion
and to force them to live within their means.
They are also intended to stop wealthy owners from trying to
buy success with limitless spending on players, distorting the
transfer market in the process.
Transfer fees and outgoing payments have been monitored
since the start of the 2011/12 season with clubs tasked with
breaking even in 2012 and 2013 and being assessed during the
If clubs have not come into line by then, they could be
thrown out of European competition.
(Reporting by Mitch Phillips and Brian Homewood)