note: Thomas Terraz is a third year LL.B.
candidate at the International and European Law programme at The Hague
University of Applied Sciences with a specialisation in European Law. Currently
he is pursuing an internship at the T.M.C. Asser Institute with a focus on
International and European Sports Law.
Christmas has come very early
this year for the EU sports law world in the form of the Court of Justice of
the European Union’s (CJEU) judgment in
TopFit eV, Daniele Biffi v Deutscher Leichtathletikverband eV by exclusively analyzing the case on the
basis of European citizenship rights and its application to rules of sports
governing bodies that limit their exercise. The case concerned an Italian
national, Daniele Biffi, who has been residing in Germany for over 15 years and
participates in athletic competitions in the senior category, including the
German national championships. In 2016, the Deutscher Leichtathletikverband
(DLV), the German Athletics Federation, decided to omit a paragraph in its
rules that allowed the participation of EU nationals in national championships
on the same footing as German citizens. As a result, participation in the
national championship was subject to prior authorization of the organizers of
the event, and even if participation was granted, the athlete may only compete
outside of classification and may not participate in the final heat of the
competition. After having been required to compete out of classification for
one national championship and even dismissed from participating in another, Mr.
Biffi and TopFit, his athletics club based in Berlin, brought proceedings to a German
national court. The national court submitted a request for a preliminary ruling
to the CJEU in which it asked essentially whether the rules of the DLV, which
may preclude or at least require a non-national to compete outside
classification and the final heat, are contrary to Articles 18, 21 and 165
TFEU. Articles 18 and 21 TFEU, read together, preclude discrimination on the
basis of nationality against European citizens exercising their free movement.
The underlying (massive) question here is whether these provisions can be
relied on by an amateur athlete against a private body, the DLV.
Covered in a previous blog, the Advocate General’s (AG) opinion addressed the case from an
entirely different angle. Instead of tackling the potentially sensitive
questions attached with interpreting the scope of European citizenship rights,
the opinion focused on the application of the freedom of establishment because
the AG found that participation in the national championships was sufficiently
connected to the fact Mr. Biffi was a professional trainer who advertised his
achievements in those competitions on his website. Thus, according to the AG,
there was a sufficient economic factor to review the case under a market freedom.
The CJEU, in its decision, sidelined this approach and took the application of
European citizenship rights head on.
The following will dissect the
Court’s decision by examining the three central legal moves of the ruling: the
general applicability of EU law to amateur sport, the horizontal applicability
of European citizenship rights, and justifications and proportionality
requirements of access restrictions to national competitions. More...
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...
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...
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...
García joined the School of Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences at Loughbourough University in January
2009 as a Lecturer in Sport Management and Policy. He holds a PhD in Politics,
International Relations and European Studies from Loughborough University
(United Kingdom), where he completed his thesis titled ‘The European Union and
the Governance of Football: A game of levels and agendas’.
this leafy and relatively mild autumn, we are celebrating two important
anniversaries. Recently, we just passed ‘Back to the Future day’, marking the
arrival of Marty McFly to 2015. In a few weeks, we will be commemorating the
20th anniversary of the Bosman ruling. Difficult to decide which
one of the two is more important. As we move well into the 21st century’s
second decade, these two dates should mark a moment to consider innovation.
They are perhaps occasions to take stock and reflect how much sport has evolved
to reach this new future… or not. More...
Editor's note: This is a short introduction written for the special Issue of the Maastricht Journal of European and Comparative Law celebrating the 20 years of the Bosman ruling and dedicated to the new frontiers of EU law and Sport (the articles are available here). For those willing to gain a deeper insight into the content of the Issue we organize (in collaboration with Maastricht University and the Maastricht Journal) a launching event with many of the authors in Brussels tomorrow (More info here).More...
On 21 January 2015, the Court of
arbitration for sport (CAS) rendered its award in the latest avatar of the Mutu case, aka THE sports law case that
keeps on giving (this decision might still be appealed to the Swiss Federal
tribunal and a complaint by Mutu is still pending in front of the European
Court of Human Right). The decision was finally published on the CAS website on
Tuesday. Basically, the core question focuses on the interpretation of Article
14. 3 of the FIFA Regulations on the Status and
Transfer of Players in its 2001 version. More precisely, whether, in case of a dismissal of a player
(Mutu) due to a breach of the contract without just cause by the
player, the new club (Juventus and/or Livorno) bears the duty to pay the
compensation due by the player to his former club (Chelsea). Despite winning maybe
the most high profile case in the history of the CAS, Chelsea has been desperately
hunting for its money since the rendering of the award (as far as the US), but
it is a daunting task. Thus, the English football club had the idea to turn
against Mutu’s first employers after his dismissal in 2005, Juventus and
Livorno, with success in front of the FIFA Dispute Resolution Chamber (DRC),
but as we will see the CAS decided otherwise. 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
Mohamed Dahmane is a professional football player of
French-Algerian origin, who has played for a variety of European clubs,
including French club US Mauberge, Belgian club RAEC Mons and Turkish club Bucaspor.
However, he will mostly be remembered as the player whose legal dispute with his former club (Belgian
club KRC Genk) revived the debate on football players’ labour rights. More...