Bilbao Threatens to Sue Bayern over Javi Martinez Deal

MUNICH, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 02: Javi Martinez of Muenchen gestures during the Bundesliga match between FC Bayern Muenchen and VfB Stuttgart at Allianz Arena on September 2, 2012.

We thought we'd put the Javi Martinez story to bed last week, when the Spainish midfielder joined FC Bayern for a cool 40 million Euro, and when he subsequently took part in Bayern's 6-1 thrashing of Stuttgart this weekend. Nope. Sore losers Athletic Bilbao refuse to let the story die: they now claim they're going to bring a lawsuit against Bayern over the whole affair.

The above link is from Fox Soccer, but bettor.com and a few other sites have a similar story. As we know, Javi traveled to Bayern last week, supposedly to take a physical and pick up a check that would buy him out of his contract. Now, Bilbao president Josu Urrutia says that the physical was undertaken "without Athletic's permission."

As far as the legal possibilities, it's unclear whether Martinez has broken any rules. If he had signed a contract or registered with the DFB before his buy-out was complete, he'd be in violation of FIFA's Article 9, which provides for the issuance of international transfer certificates. But it doesn't appear he registered with the German association until Thursday, when the buy-out was already undertaken. I guess the question would be whether undergoing a physical / medical examination, but without registering with the new FA or signing a contract with the new team, would be prohibited without permission. Article 9 doesn't seem to say that it is; however, Bilbao could also say that Bayern and/or Javi is in violation of Article 13, "Respect of Contract," which states that contracts can only be terminated by expiry or by mutual consent. The complete FIFA transfer and status rules are here; I'd have to read Javi's (old) Athletic Bilbao contract to know if he is in violation of it. If so, they could argue that Bayern is liable for damages.

Ultimately, though, I don't think it matters, because I don't think Athletic Bilbao is really looking to sue anyone. They are probably just upset that one of their best players forced his way out. Additionally, they're surely trying to demonstrate to their fans that they really wanted to keep him, and that the decision to leave was Javi's alone. Which is fair, I suppose (although I notice they kept the 40 million Euro check), but they'd be better off figuring out how to get some good new talents with that money and how to remain in one of those top spots in La Liga. Whatever happens, it's pretty clear that Javi isn't going back.

Needless to say, we'll be tracking the story. If I get a hold of language from Javi's old contract, I might need a Spanish reader to help me decipher. Meanwhile, we'll be here all week with a recap of recent Bundesliga action and a look ahead at the forthcoming international break. Thanks for reading.

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