Editor’s Note: Saverio
Spera is an Italian lawyer and LL.M. graduate in International Business Law from
King’s College London. He is currently an intern at the ASSER International
Sports Law Centre.
is ripe to take a closer look at the CAS and its transparency, as this is one
of the ways to ensure its public accountability and its legitimacy. From 1986
to 2013, the number of arbitrations submitted to the CAS has grown from 2 to more
than 400 a year. More specifically, the number of appeals submitted almost doubled
in less than ten years (from 175 in 2006, to 349 in 2013).
Therefore, the Court can be considered the judicial apex of an emerging transnational
sports law (or lex sportiva).
In turn, the increased authority and power of this institution calls for
increased transparency, in order to ensure its legitimacy.
Yesterday the sports law world was
buzzing due to the Diarra decision of
the Tribunal de Commerce du Hainaut (the Tribunal) based in Charleroi, Belgium.
Newspapers were lining up (here, here and here) to spread the
carefully crafted announcement of the new triumph of Jean-Louis Dupont over his
favourite nemesis: the transfer system. Furthermore, I was lucky enough to
receive on this same night a copy of the French text of the judgment. My first
reaction while reading quickly through the ruling, was ‘OMG he did it again’!
“He” meaning Belgian lawyer Jean-Louis Dupont, who after a string of defeats in
his long shot challenge against FIFA’s TPO ban or UEFA’s FFP (see here and here), had [at least
I believed after rushing carelessly through the judgment] manufactured a new
“it”: a Bosman. Yet, after carefully re-reading the judgment, it
became quickly clear to me that this was rather a new Mutu (in the sense of the latest CAS award in the ‘Mutu
saga’, which I have extensively analysed on this blog and in a recent commentary for the new Yearbook of International Sports Arbitration) coupled with some reflections reminding a bit (but
not really as will be explicated below) the Pechstein
In this blog, I will retrace briefly
the story behind the case and then analyse the decision of the Belgium court.
In doing so, I will focus on its reasoning regarding its jurisdiction and the
compatibility of article 17(2) RSTP with EU law.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 14 July 2016, the
Belgian competition authority refused to grant provisional measures to the
White Star Woluwe Football Club (“The White Star”), which would have allowed it
to compete in the Belgian top football division. The club was refused a licence
to compete in the above mentioned competition first by the Licences Commission
of the national football federation (“Union Royale Belge des Sociétés de
Foootball Association” or “URBSFA”) and then by the Belgian court of
arbitration for sports (“Cour Belge d’Arbitrage pour le Sport” or “CBAS”). The
White Star lodged a complaint to the national competition authority (“NCA”) and
requested provisional measures. The
Belgian competition authority rendered a much-overlooked decision (besides one commentary) in which it seems to
accept the reviewability of an arbitral award’s conformity with EU competition
law (articles 101 and 102 TFEU). 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
What a month June
turned out to be. Waking up the morning after the 23rd, the results
of the UK referendum on EU membership were final. The words of Mark Twain: “Apparently
there is nothing that cannot happen today”, might provide the most apt
description of the mood felt at the time.
The Leave campaign’s narrow victory has brought along tremendous economic,
political and legal uncertainties for both the UK and the (other) Member
States. To give but one example, with regard to the implications of Brexit on Europe’s
most profiting football league, we recommend an older blog
by Daniel Geey and Jonny Madill. More...
The decision of the
Bundesgerichtshof (BGH), the Highest Civil Court in Germany, in the Pechstein case was eagerly awaited. At
the hearing in March, the Court decided it would pronounce itself on 7 June,
and so it did. Let’s cut things short: it is a striking victory for the Court
of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and a bitter (provisory?) ending for Claudia
Pechstein. The BGH’s press
release is abundantly clear that the German judges endorsed the CAS
uncritically on the two main legal questions: validity of forced CAS
arbitration and the independence of the CAS. The CAS and ISU are surely right
to rejoice and celebrate the ruling in their respective press releases that
quickly ensued (here
At first glance, this ruling will be comforting the CAS’ jurisdiction for years
to come. Claudia Pechstein’s dire financial fate - she faces up to 300 000€ in
legal fees – will serve as a powerful repellent for any athlete willing to
challenge the CAS.More...
Book Review: Vaitiekunas A (2014) The Court of
Arbitration for Sport : Law-Making and the Question of Independence,
Stämpfli Verlag, Berne, CHF 89,00
book under review is the published version of a PhD thesis defended in 2013 by
Andrew Vaitiekunas at Melbourne Law School. A PhD is often taking stock of
legal developments rather than anticipating or triggering them. This was
definitely not the case of this book. Its core subject of interest is the study
of the independence of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) – an issue that
has risen to prominence with the recent Pechstein ruling of January 2015 of the
Oberlandesgericht München. It is difficult to be timelier indeed. More...
The Pechstein ruling
Oberlandesgericht (OLG) München rocked the sports arbitration world earlier
this year (see our initial commentary of the decision here and a longer version here). The decision has been appealed to the German
Bundesgerichtshof (BGH), the highest German civil court, and the final word on
the matter is not expected before 2016. In any event, the case has the merit of
putting a long-overdue reform of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) back
on the agenda. The last notable reform of the structure and functioning of the
CAS dates back to 1994, and was already triggered by a court ruling, namely the
famous Gundel case of the Swiss Federal Tribunal
(SFT). Since then, the role of the CAS has shifted and its practical
significance has radically changed (the growth of CAS’s caseload has been exponential). It has become the most visible
arbitration court in Switzerland in terms of the number of awards appealed to
the SFT, but more importantly it deals with all the high-profile disputes that
arise in global sport: think, for instance, of Pistorius, the recent Dutee Chand decision or the upcoming FIFA
It took only days for the de facto immunity of the Court of
Arbitration for Sport (CAS) awards from State court interference to collapse
like a house of cards on the grounds
of the public policy exception mandated under Article V(2)(b) of the New York Convention on the Recognition and
Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards . On 15 January 2015, the
Munich Court of Appeals signalled an unprecedented turn in the
longstanding legal dispute between the German speed skater, Claudia Pechstein,
and the International Skating Union (ISU). It refused to recognise a CAS
arbitral award, confirming the validity of a doping ban, on the grounds that it
violated a core principle of German cartel law which forms part of the German public
policy. A few weeks before, namely on 30 December 2014, the Court of Appeal of Bremen held a CAS award, which ordered the German Club, SV Wilhelmshaven, to
pay ‘training compensation’, unenforceable for non-compliance with mandatory
European Union law and, thereby, for violation of German ordre public. 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
The Pechstein decision of the
Oberlandesgericht of Munich is “ground-breaking”, “earth-shaking”, “revolutionary”,
name it. It was the outmost duty of a “German-reading” sports lawyer to
translate it as fast as possible in order to make it available for the sports
law community at large (Disclaimer: This is not an official translation and I
am no certified legal translator). Below you will find the rough translation of
the ruling (the full German text is available here), it is omitting solely the parts,
which are of no direct interest to international sports law.
of CAS is in the balance and this ruling should trigger some serious
rethinking of the institutional set-up that underpins it. As you will see, the
ruling is not destructive, the Court is rather favourable to the function of
CAS in the sporting context, but it requires a fundamental institutional
reshuffling. It also offers a fruitful legal strategy to challenge CAS awards
that could be used in front of any national court of the EU as it is based on reasoning
analogically applicable to article 102 TFEU (on abuse of a dominant position),
which is valid across the EU’s territory.
Enjoy the read!
PS: The translation can also be downloaded at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2561297