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International and European Sports Law – Monthly Report – March 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 Joseph S. Blatter v. FIFA

In the first half of March, the CAS published its long-awaited award in the arbitration procedure between FIFA’s former President Mr Joseph S. Blatter and FIFA itself. The Panel dismissed the appeal filed by Mr Blatter against the decision rendered by the FIFA Appeal Committee on 16 February 2016. As a result, Mr Blatter remains banned from taking part in any football-related activity at national and international level for six years as of 8 October 2015.

The dispute in question concerned (i) a payment of CHF 2,000,000 made by FIFA to Mr Michel Platini in early 2011 allegedly remunerating work performed by Mr Platini for FIFA between January 1999 and June 2002; and (ii) Mr Blatter’s alleged authorization which entitled Mr Platini to receive credit towards his FIFA ExCo pension fund for his service to FIFA from 1998 to 2002. With regard to the former, the Panel held that assuming there actually had been an oral agreement between Mr Blatter and Mr Platini dating back to 1998, such an agreement would nevertheless have been superseded by the written employment contract signed in August 1999 (according to that contract, Mr Platini were to be remunerated ‘only’ CHF 300,000 a year). Consequently, the Panel concluded that there was no contractual basis for the payment of CHF 2,000,000 in favour of Mr Platini. In respect of the second point of contention, namely the contribution towards Mr Platini’s FIFA ExCo pension fund, the Panel held that Mr Platini was simply not entitled to receive such a contribution for his service to FIFA from 1998 to 2002, as he became a member of the FIFA Executive Committee only in 2002.

The CAS award in Seraing FC v. FIFA 

The dispute between the Belgian football club Seraing FC and FIFA has its roots in the decision rendered by the FIFA Disciplinary Committee in September 2015. In this decision, the FIFA Disciplinary Committee imposed a transfer ban (four consecutive registration periods) and a fine of CHF 150,000 on Seraing FC for violating Articles 18bis and 18ter of the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players which prohibit the third-party influence on clubs and the third-party ownership of players’ economic rights (TPO) respectively. The Belgian club challenged the said decision (as confirmed by the FIFA Appeal Committee) before the CAS.

In its press release dated 10 March 2017, FIFA expressed its content with the award delivered by the CAS. According to FIFA, ‘the CAS has recognized and confirmed the validity of FIFA’s ban on TPO, which was adopted in order to preserve the independence of clubs and players in matters of recruitment and transfer, and to ensure the integrity of matches and competitions’. The CAS has not yet published the award, nor has it issued any statement in this regard.

WADA calls upon athletes and other persons to ‘Speak Up!’ 

On 9 March 2017, WADA launched a new digital platform called ‘Speak Up!’, which seeks to encourage athletes and others to come forward and report (i) alleged Anti-Doping Rule Violations under the World Anti-Doping Code (Code); (ii) non-compliance violations under the Code; or (iii) any act or omission that could undermine the fight against doping in sport. On this occasion, WADA’s Director General, Mr Olivier Niggli, stated that ‘WADA’s independent Pound and McLaren Investigations, which were both triggered by whistleblowers, highlighted the importance of these individuals to the Agency and to clean sport on the whole’. The platform is accessible via a secure app for iPhone and Android phones.

 

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