Monaco (Reuters) – Monaco were forced to remove advertising boards for online betting firm bwin.com before the kickoff of Saturday’s Ligue 1 match against Le Mans.
The French Professional Football League (LFP) on Friday banned its clubs from advertising any form of gambling and online betting.
An LFP official told Monaco the boards around the pitch had to be removed or the match would not start.
„Monaco insist on the fact that the decision to remove all advertising for bwin was imposed by the LFP as a condition for the match to start,“ Monaco said in a statement.
The club added that it contested the decision by the LFP and might take legal action to fight it.
The LFP ban came after the two joint chief executives of Austrian online betting firm bwin.com Interactive Entertainment were placed under investigation earlier this month for alleged violation of French gaming laws.
Gambling is a state monopoly in France and online betting firms are banned from seeking clients on French territory.
Bwin are the shirt sponsors of Monaco and have sponsorship deals with several other Ligue 1 clubs, including Le Mans, and other leading European sides.
Manfred Bodner and Norbert Teufelberger, joint CEOs of bwin, were detained for questioning just before the start of a Sept. 15 news conference to outline a sponsorship between bwin and Monaco.
The principality team said they had asked French soccer authorities for information before deciding to chose bwin as sponsors.
LFP president Frederic Thiriez said he had informed the French clubs several times since 2005 of the risk they were taking by choosing online betting firms as sponsors.
„Given the threat of legal action weighing on the clubs that do not respect the ban on advertising for gambling, it is our responsibility to protect the clubs and make sure the competitions are not disturbed by banning such publicity for the time being,“ Thiriez said in Friday’s statement.