Editor’s note: Mario Vigna is a Senior
Associate at Coccia De Angelis Vecchio & Associati in Rome, Italy. His main
practice areas are sports law, commercial law, and IP law. He also has
extensive experience in the Anti-doping field, serving as Deputy-Chief
Prosecutor of the Italian NADO and as counsel in domestic and international sports
proceedings. He is a frequent speaker at various conferences and workshops. He was
not involved in either of the cases discussed below.
Gambling in football is a
popular and potentially lucrative activity. It also raises numerous issues. When
faced with the issue of gambling, the European Court of Justice (now Court of
Justice of the EU) determined that gambling was economic activity per se, notwithstanding gambling’s
vulnerability to ethical issues, and thus could not be prohibited outright.
With the legality of gambling established, it was left to the proper
legislative bodies (national legislatures, national and international federations,
etc.) to regulate gambling in order to guard against fraud and corruption. Gambling
was not going to disappear; the dangers inherent to gambling would require
Editor's note: This report compiles all relevant news, events and
materials on International and European Sports Law based on the daily coverage
provided on our twitter feed @Sportslaw_asser. You
are invited to complete this survey via the comments section below, feel free
to add links to important cases, documents and articles we might have
Since yesterday FIFA is back in turmoil (see here
after the FIFA Council decided
to dismiss the heads of the investigatory (Cornel Borbély) and adjudicatory
(Hans-Joachim Eckert) chambers of the Independent
Ethics Committee, as well as the Head (Miguel Maduro) of the Governance
and Review Committee. It is a disturbing twist to a long reform process (on
the early years see our blogs here
that was only starting to produce some tangible results. More...
Editor's note: Marine Montejo is a graduate from the College of Europe in Bruges and
is currently an intern at the ASSER International Sports Law Centre.
On 3 June
2015, Sepp Blatter resigned as President of FIFA after another corruption scandal inside the world’s football
governing body was brought to light by the American authorities supported by
the Swiss prosecutor office. Two months after Michel Platini announced he would be a candidate for
the next FIFA Presidential election, on 25 September 2015, the Swiss prosecutor
opened an investigation against S.
Blatter on an alleged disloyal payment he authorised to M. Platini. On 8
October 2015, the FIFA Ethics Committee announced both of them were provisionally
suspended upon their hearings, a suspension that was later confirmed by CAS. In the end, M.
Platini was sanctioned with an eight years ban from
all football activities, later reduced to a six years ban by FIFA
Appeal Commission on 24 February 2016. In the meantime, he withdrew his candidacy to become the
next FIFA President. On 9 May 2016, after M. Platini appealed this sanction, the CAS confirmed the suspension but reduced it
to four years, leading to his resignation from the UEFA presidency and the
announcement of his intention to challenge the CAS award in front of the Swiss
September, the CAS finally published the full text of the award in the dispute between M.
Platini and FIFA. The award is in French as M. Platini requested that the
procedure be conducted in that language. You will find below a summary of the ‘highlights’
of the 63-page decision. More...
Editor’s note: This report
compiles all relevant news, events and materials on International and European
Sports Law based on the daily coverage provided on our twitter feed @Sportslaw_asser. You are invited to complete this survey via the comments section
below, feel free to add links to important cases, documents and articles we
might have overlooked.
Marine Montejo is a graduate from the College of
Europe in Bruges and is currently an Intern at the ASSER International Sports
The Belgian Court of Appeal released its
judgment this month regarding Doyen’s legal battle against the FIFA TPO ban.
The Appeal Court confirmed the first instance decision and ruled out any provisional
measures to block the ban’s implementation (for an in depth review, see
our blog post). More importantly, the Court
reaffirmed that Swiss based sport federations are liable in front of EU Members’
States courts when EU competition law is involved. That means the next
important step for this legal battle is whether or not the European Commission
is going to open a formal proceeding (Doyen
already lodged a complaint) to assess the compatibility,
and more importantly, the proportionality of the TPO ban with EU law. Only a
preliminary ruling by the CJEU could hasten the decision if one of the European
national courts, hearing a case brought by Doyen (France or Belgium), decided
to refer a preliminary question.More...
Editor’s note: This report compiles all relevant news, events and materials on
International and European Sports Law based on the daily coverage provided on
our twitter feed @Sportslaw_asser. You are invited to complete this survey via the comments section
below, feel free to add links to important cases, documents and articles we
might have overlooked.
The eagerly awaited FIFA Presidential elections of 26 February provided
for a “new face” at the pinnacle of international football for the first time
since 1998. One could argue whether Infantino is the man capable
of bringing about the reform FIFA so desperately needs or whether he is simply
a younger version of his predecessor Blatter. More...
Gesa Kuebek holds an LLM and graduated from the University of Bologna, Gent and Hamburg as part of the Erasmus Mundus Master Programme in Law and Economics and now work as an intern for the Asser Instituut.
On Monday, 9 November,
the German Football Association (DFB) announced in a Press Release the
resignation of its head, Wolfgang Niersbach, over the 2006 World Cup
Affair. In his statement, Niersbach argued that he had “no
knowledge whatsoever” about any “payments flows” and is now being confronted
with proceedings in which he was “never involved”. However, he is now forced to
draw the “political consequences” from the situation. His resignation occurred
against the backdrop of last week’s raid of the DFB’s Frankfurt headquarters
and the private homes Niersbach, his predecessor Theo Zwanziger and
long-standing DFB general secretary Horst R. Schmidt. The public prosecutor’s
office investigates a particularly
severe act of tax evasion linked to awarding the 2006 World
Cup. The 2006 German “summer fairy-tale” came under pressure in mid-October
2015, after the German magazine “Der Spiegel”
shocked Fußballdeutschland by
claiming that it had seen concrete evidence proving that a €6.7 million loan,
designated by the FIFA for a “cultural programme”, ended up on the account of
Adidas CEO Robert-Louis Dreyfuß. The magazine further argued that the money was
in fact a secret loan that was paid back to Dreyfuß. Allegedly, the loan was
kept off the books intentionally in order to be used as bribes to win the 2006
World Cup bid. The public prosecutor now suspects the DFB of failing to
register the payment in tax returns. German FA officials admit that the DFB
made a “mistake” but deny all allegations of vote buying. However, the current
investigations show that the issues at stakes remain far from clear, leaving
many questions regarding the awarding of the 2006 World Cup unanswered.
The present blog
post aims to shed a light on the matter by synthetizing what we do know about
the 2006 World Cup Affair and by highlighting the legal grounds on which the
German authorities investigate the tax evasion. More...
Rien ne va plus at FIFA. The news that FIFA’s Secretary General Jérôme Valcke
was put on leave and released from his
duties has been quickly overtaken by the opening of a criminal investigation targeting
both Blatter and Platini.
With FIFA hopping from one scandal to the next, one
tends to disregard the fact that it has been attempting (or rather pretending) to
improve the governance of the organisation for some years now. In previous
blogs (here and here), we
discussed the so-called ‘FIFA Governance Reform Project’, a project carried out
by the Independent Governance Committee (IGC) under the leadership of Prof. Dr.
Mark Pieth of the Basel Institute on Governance. Their third and final report, published
on 22 April 2014, listed a set of achievements made by FIFA in the area of good
governance since 2011, such as establishing an Audit and Compliance Committee (A&C).
However, the report also indicated the reform proposals that FIFA had not met.
These proposals included the introduction of term limits for specific FIFA
officials (e.g. the President) as well as introducing an integrity review
procedure for all the members of the Executive Committee (ExCo) and the
Standing Committees. More...
note: Chuck Blazer declined our official interview request but thanks to some trusted
sources (the FIFA indictment and
Chuck’s testimony) we
have reconstructed his likely answers. This is a fictional interview. Any resemblance with real facts is purely coincidental.
Blazer, thank you for agreeing to this interview, especially considering the
circumstances. How are you doing?
I am facing ten charges concerning, among others,
conspiracy to corrupt and money laundering. But apart from that, I am doing
good to know that you have not lost your spirit. And since you’ve been involved
in football, or as you call it soccer, for years could you please first tell us
what was your career at FIFA and its affiliates like?
Let me see… Starting from the 1990s I was employed by and
associated with FIFA and one of its constituent confederations, namely the
Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF).
At various times, I also served as a member of several FIFA standing
committees, including the marketing and television committee. As CONCACAF’s
general secretary, a position I proudly held for 21 years, I was responsible,
among many other things, for negotiations concerning media and sponsorship
rights. From 1997 to 2013 I also served at FIFA’s executive committee where I
participated in the selection process of the host countries for the World Cup
tournaments. Those years at the helm of world soccer were truly amazing years
of travel and hard work mainly for the good of the beautiful game. I might add
that I even managed to document some of my voyages on my blog. I initially
called it “Travels with Chuck Blazer” but Vladimir (Putin) convinced me to
change the name to “Travels
with Chuck Blazer and his Friends”. You should check it out.
Editor’s note: This short book review will be
published in a different format in the International Sports Law Journal, due to
its timeliness we decided to reproduce it here.
FIFA, or Not
Book Review: Mark Pieth
FIFA, Dike Verlag, St. Gallen, 2014, 28.00 CHF, p.178
book looks back at the work of the Independence Governance Committee
(IGC). This Committee, constituted in 2011, had as
primary objective to drive a reform process of FIFA initiated by its President
Sepp Blatter. After ordering from the Swiss anti-corruption expert Mark Pieth,
on the state of FIFA’s governance, FIFA decided to mandate him with the leadership
of a consulting body composed of a mix of independent experts and football
insiders, which would be accompanying and supervising the internal reform
process of FIFA. The IGC was officially dissolved
at the end of 2013, after completing its mandate. The book is composed of eight
chapters, written by former members of the IGC, including former chairman Mark
Pieth. In addition to the chapters, it includes the different reports
submitted by the IGC to FIFA across the years. In the words of Pieth, this
account is “fascinating because it gives a hands-on, realistic perspective of
the concrete efforts, the achievements and the remaining challenges in the
struggle for the reform of this organization [FIFA], avoiding the usual
glorification or vilification.”
This review will first summarize the core of the account of the FIFA reform
process provided by the book, before critically engaging with the outcome of
the process and outlining the deficiencies that culminated on 29 May 2015 with
the re-election of Sepp Blatter as FIFA president.More...