‘Le Monde’ condemned paying a 15,000 euro fine for damaging FC Barcelona’s honour in 2006

The French newspaper ‘Le Monde’ published an article in December 2006 that falsely linked FC Barcelona with doping practices. A first trial condemned ‘Le Monde’ to pay 300,000 euros to the Catalan sports club, but the French newspaper and the journalist Stéphane Mandard appealed. A second court reduced the fine to 15,000 euros, but they appealed again. The Spanish Supreme Court has upheld the last sentence and dismissed the French newspaper's appeal.


November 15, 2011 03:27 PM

Barcelona (FCB).- The Spanish Supreme Court ratified on Monday the previous sentence condemning the French newspaper ‘Le Monde’ and dismissed its appeal. The Supreme Court has upheld the sentence which Barcelona Provincial Court handed down condemning ‘Le Monde’ for damaging FC Barcelona’s honour and also ordering damages to be paid through a 15,000 euro fine. The Provincial Court also foresaw the sentence to be published on two newspapers, a general information one and another focused on sport, published in Barcelona and with a distribution covering the whole of Spain. The Court decided that the Barça’s right to honour should prevail over freedom of information and considered that the lack of fact-checking done by the journalist Stéphane Mandard was a lack of diligence in carrying out his work as a reporter.

The case has its origins in an article published on the French newspaper ‘Le Monde’ in December 2006, first on the website and the day after on the paper edition. The article alleged a link between FC Barcelona and Doctor Eufemiano Fuentes, who was involved in the ‘Operación Puerto’ case. This led to the Catalan sports club bringing a case for libel against the French newspaper.

A lower court condemned ‘Le Monde’ to pay 300,000 euros and to publish the sentence on its online and paper editions. The French newspaper and the journalist Stéphane Mandard  appealed and a higher court –Barcelona’s Provincial Court– lowered the damages to 15,000 euros and dismissed ‘Le Monde’ to publish the sentence, as it considered FC Barcelona’s version denying the information had already been published on the newspaper. Nevertheless, the higher court’s sentence foresaw its publication on two Catalan newspapers with a distribution throughout Spain: a sports media and a general information one.

This higher court decision was then again appealed by the French newspaper and the journalist to the Spanish Supreme Court. This Monday the Supreme Court upheld the second sentence and ordered ‘Le Monde’ to pay the trial costs.