By Ceyhun Pehlivan and Jorge Monclús
The Spanish Supreme Court has ordered French daily newspaper Le Monde to pay damages of €300,000 to Real Madrid and €15,000 to FC Barcelona for linking the Spanish football clubs to a doping plot.
Real Madrid and FC Barcelona filed a lawsuit against Le Monde as a consequence of the publication of two articles titled “Le Real Madrid et le Barça liés au docteur Fuentes” (Real Madrid and Barça linked to Dr. Fuentes) and “Dopage: le football après le cyclisme” (Doping: Footbal after cycling) relating them to Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes, the doctor involved in a sports doping plot known as “Operation Puerto”.
The Supreme Court upheld the judgment of the lower courts in favour of Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, and confirmed that Le Monde infringed the right to honour of the Spanish clubs.
On the basis of established case law criteria, the Supreme Court said that the primacy of freedom of information over the right to honour is justified when the information is of general interest, true and its purpose is not exceeded in an offensive, denigrating, disproportionate or unnecessary manner.
The Supreme Court ruled that although the articles published by Le Monde were of general interest, they were defamatory and based on facts that could not be proven to be true as the journalist had not provided enough evidence to back them up.
The French newspaper has announced that it would appeal against the Supreme Court’s ruling to the Spanish Constitutional Court.