Cruz Azul scandal boosts Liga MX fiscal facelift

Cruz Azul fan (Photo by /Jam Media/Getty Images)
Cruz Azul fan (Photo by /Jam Media/Getty Images) /
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Liga MX Cruz Azul scandal
Last year, Liga MX chief executive Enrique Bonilla signed an agreement with federal auditors as a first step in cleaning up the league’s shaky image. This came after reports indicated several teams had been given questionable tax breaks. (Photo by Hector Vivas/LatinContent via Getty Images) /

Liga MX makes commitment to financial transparency

As the Veracruz fiasco played out last year, the Liga MX signed a transparency agreement with the new federal auditor. Since taking over the UIF in December 2018, Santiago Nieto has aggressively sought to root out financial crimes in Mexico, at the behest of Andrés Manuel López Obrador who made corruption the centerpiece of his presidential campaign.

The agreement gives the UIF free access to league and team financial accounts and Nieto declared his team would focus on preventing money-laundering, tax-evasion and “funny” bookkeeping.

The Finance Secretariat had earlier revealed that several soccer teams had benefited from questionable tax avoidance. The report indicated many Liga MX teams had unjustifiably been granted tax forgiveness over the past two decades. In 2013 alone, Atlante (playin in Liga MX back then) had been forgiven 61 million pesos in taxes, while two other teams – UNAM (1.6 million) and Monterrey (nearly 1 million) – had avoided paying significant amounts.

As last year came to an end, the Liga MX and its teams were frantically trying to balance their books. Six months later, the UIF is now taking a close look at the financial operations of the Ascenso MX, Mexico’s second division soccer league that was recently disbanded by Liga MX.

Both houses of Congress are considering bills to clean up Mexico’s soccer game, in particular tax payments. Players will also come under greater scrutiny and contracts will also have to adhere to specific formats approved by the Finance Secretariat.

Other aspects of the soccer environment – promoters, agents, television contracts, ticket sales, etc. – will be examined by the UIF to prevent money laundering.

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Though the Liga MX might suffer a few more lumps from the ongoing audit, improved financial practices and greater transparency will be beneficial in the long run.