Editor's note: Adriaan Wijckmans is an associate specialized in sports law at the Belgium law firm Altius.
In a recent judgment, the Brussels Court of
First Instance confirmed the legality of a so-called surety undertaking, i.e. an
agreement in which the parents of a minor playing football guarantee that their
child will sign a professional contract with a football club as soon as the child
reaches the legal age of majority.
This long-awaited ruling was hailed, on the one hand, by clubs as a
much needed and eagerly anticipated confirmation of a long-standing practice in
Belgian football and, on
the other hand, criticised by FIFPro, the international
player’s trade union, in a scathing press release. More...
FIFA’s Third-Party Ownership (TPO)
ban entered into force on the 1 May 2015.
Since then, an academic and practitioner’s debate is raging over its compatibility with EU law,
and in particular the EU Free Movement rights and competition rules.
The European Commission, national
courts (and probably in the end the Court of Justice of the EU) and the Court
of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) will soon have to propose their interpretations
of the impact of EU law on FIFA’s TPO ban. Advised by the world-famous Bosman lawyer, Jean-Louis Dupont, Doyen
has decided to wage through a proxy (the Belgian club FC Seraing) a legal war
against the ban. The first skirmishes have already taken place in front of the
Brussels Court of first instance, which denied in July Seraing’s request for provisional
measures. For its part, FIFA has already sanctioned the club for closing a TPO deal
with Doyen, thus opening the way to an ultimate appeal to the CAS. In parallel,
the Spanish and Portuguese leagues have lodged a complaint with the European
Commission arguing that the FIFA ban is contrary to EU competition law. One
academic has already published an assessment of the compatibility of the ban
with EU law, and many practitioners have offered their take (see here and here for example). It is undeniable that the FIFA
ban is per se restrictive of the
economic freedoms of investors and can easily be constructed as a restriction
on free competition. Yet, the key and core question under an EU law analysis,
is not whether the ban is restrictive (any regulation inherently is), but
whether it is proportionate, in other words justified. More...
to the legitimate excitement over the recent Pechstein
ruling, many have overlooked a previous German decision
rendered in the Wilhelmshaven SV case
(the German press did report on the decision here
The few academic commentaries (see here
focused on the fact that the German Court had not recognized the res judicata effect of a CAS award.
Thus, it placed Germany at the spearhead of a mounting rebellion against the legitimacy
of the CAS and the validity of its awards. None of the commentators weighed in
on the substance of the decision, however. Contrary to the Court in Pechstein, the judges decided to evaluate
the compatibility of the FIFA rules on training compensations with the EU free
movement rights. To properly report on the decision and assess the threat it
may constitute for the FIFA training compensation system, we will first
summarize the facts of the case (I), briefly explicate the mode of functioning
of the FIFA training compensation system (II), and finally reconstruct the
reasoning of the Court on the compatibility of the FIFA rules with EU law
Yesterday, UEFA published the very
much-expected settlements implementing its Financial Fair Play (FFP)
regulations. Today, we address tomorrow’s challenges for FFP, we offer five,
more or less realistic, scenarios sketching the (legal) future of the FFP
On March 27, 2014, a Brazilian
court ruling authorized the
Football Players’ Union in the State of Sao Paulo
to tap funds generated by TV rights agreements destined to a Brazilian Club,
Comercial Futebol Clube (hereinafter “Comercial”). The Court came to this
decision after Comercial did not comply with its obligation to pay players’ salaries. It is a peculiar
decision when taking into account the global problem of clubs overspending and
not complying with their financial obligations. Furthermore, it could create a precedent for
future cases regarding default by professional sporting clubs.
Nearly twenty years after the European Court of
Justice declared in the Bosman case that all professional athletes
within the EU were given the right to a free transfer at the end of their contracts,
the Spanish Tribunal Supremo
provided a judgment on 26 March 2014 that will heighten
a new debate on the rights of professional athletes once their contract expires.