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International and European Sports Law – Monthly Report – April 2017. By Tomáš Grell

 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 Headlines 

The CAS award in RFC Seraing v. FIFA

On 10 March 2017, FIFA published a short press release which praised the long-awaited award delivered by the CAS in the appeal of the Belgian football club RFC Seraing against FIFA’s decision. The French version of the award is now available on the CAS’s website.

The dispute in question emerged from agreements concluded between RFC Seraing and Doyen Sports Investments Limited, a private investment company known for its engagement in the acquisition of professional football players’ economic rights (Doyen). These agreements allowed Doyen to (i) influence the independence and the policy of the Belgian club; and (ii) receive an indemnity payable in connection with the future transfer of certain players. In September 2015, the FIFA Disciplinary Committee held that by entering into these agreements, RFC Seraing violated Articles 18bis and 18ter of the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players (RSTP) prohibiting the third-party influence on clubs and the third-party ownership of players’ economic rights. As a result, the Belgian club was banned from registering players on a national and international level for four consecutive registration periods and obliged to pay a fine of CHF 150,000.

On appeal, the CAS Panel has confirmed that Articles 18bis and 18ter RSTP are valid under European law and Swiss law. Having considered the sanction imposed by the FIFA Disciplinary Committee on RFC Seraing disproportionate, the CAS Panel reduced the transfer ban from four to three consecutive registration periods. For an in-depth analysis of the award, we invite you to read the recent blog written by our senior researcher Mr Antoine Duval.

The CAS award in Olga Abramova v. International Biathlon Union

On 1 January 2016, WADA prohibited the use of meldonium for the first time. A few days later, Ms Olga Abramova, a Russian-born Ukrainian biathlete, underwent an in-competition doping control which revealed the presence of meldonium in her body. An independent investigation was conducted by the Anti-Doping Hearing Panel (ADHP) of the International Biathlon Union. On 14 November 2016, the ADHP rendered a decision in which (i) Ms Abramova was found to have committed an anti-doping rule violation (meldonium); and (ii) a one-year period of ineligibility was imposed on her. Eventually, Ms Abramova appealed the said decision before the CAS.

In its press release dated 19 April 2017, the CAS announced that the appeal filed by Ms Abramova had been partially upheld. The CAS Panel has found to its comfortable satisfaction that Ms Abramova fulfilled her obligation to ensure that meldonium did not enter her body after 1 January 2016 (i.e. the date when meldonium was added to the list of prohibited substances). In other words, Ms Abramova ‘could not reasonably have known or suspected even with the exercise of utmost caution that meldonium could still be detected in her blood after 1 January 2016’. Accordingly, the CAS Panel has cancelled the one-year period of ineligibility imposed on Ms Abramova. It should be noted, however, that, in accordance with WADA Guidelines, the CAS Panel has confirmed the disqualification of any results achieved by Ms Abramova between 10 January 2016 and 3 February 2016.

France investigates potential corruption linked to the selection procedure for the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cup

Following the United States and Switzerland, France has recently become the third country to open a criminal investigation into potential corruption relating to the selection procedure for the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cup finals which are scheduled to take place in Russia and Qatar respectively. The Parquet National Financier, a French authority responsible for law enforcement against serious financial crime, has reportedly interviewed the former FIFA President Mr Joseph Blatter. The former UEFA President Mr Michel Platini, who admitted in the past that he had eventually decided to cast his vote for Qatar following a lunch with the former French President Mr Nicolas Sarkozy and senior Qatari officials, has not been interrogated by French authorities yet.

Sports Law Related Decisions

Official Documents and Press Releases

In the news

Doping

Football 

Other

Academic Materials

 International Sports Law Journal, April 2017, Volume 16, Issue 3

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