Editor’s note: Kester Mekenkamp is an LL.M. student in European Law
at Leiden University and an intern at the ASSER International Sports Law
Centre. This blog is, to a great extent, an excerpt of his forthcoming master
On 24 November
2016, a claim was
lodged before a Zurich commercial court against FIFA’s transfer regulations by
a 17-year-old African football player.
The culprit, according to the allegation: The provision on the protection of
minors, Article 19 of the Regulations
for the Status and Transfer of Players.
The claimant and his parents dispute the validity of this measure, based on the
view that it discriminates between football players from the European Union and
those from third countries. Besides to Swiss cartel law, the claim is
substantiated on EU citizenship rights, free movement and competition law. Evidently,
it is difficult to assess the claim’s chance of success based on the sparse information
provided in the press.
Be that as it may, it does provide for an ideal (and unexpected) opportunity to
delve into the fascinating subject of my master thesis on FIFA’s regulatory
system aimed at enhancing the protection of young football players and its
compatibility with EU law. This three-part blog shall therefore try to provide
an encompassing overview of the rule’s lifespan since its inception in 2001. More...
Editor’s note: Josep
F. Vandellos is an international sports lawyer associated to RH&C (Spain).
He is also a member of the Editorial Board of the publication Football
Legal and a guest lecturer in the ISDE-FC Barcelona
Masters’ Degree in Sports Management and Legal Skills.
6 of Annexe IV (Training compensation) of the
FIFA-RSTP (Ed. 2016) contains the so-called “Special Provisions for the EU/EEA” applicable to players moving
from one association to another inside the territory of the European Union (EU)
or the European Economic Area (EEA).
The provisions regarding training compensation result from the
understanding reached between FIFA and UEFA with the European Union in March
and subsequent modifications introduced in the FIFA-RSTP revised version of
2005 to ensure the compatibility of the transfer system with EU law.
blog will focus on the exception contained in article 6(3) Annexe IV of the
FIFA-RSTP. According to this article, when “the
former club” fails to offer a contract to the player, it loses its right to
claim training compensation from the players’ new club, unless it can justify that
it is entitled to such compensation. Instead, the right of “previous clubs” to training compensation
is fully preserved irrespective of their behaviour with the player. From
a legal standpoint, such discrimination between the “former club” and the “previous
clubs” raises some questions that I will try to address in this paper. More...
This is the second and final part of the ‘Real Madrid Saga’. Where the first part outlined the background of the case and
the role played by the Spanish national courts, the second part focuses on the
EU Commission’s recovery decision of 4 July 2016 and dissects the arguments advanced by the Commission to reach it. As
will be shown, the most important question the Commission had to answer was
whether the settlement agreement of 29 July 2011
between the Council of Madrid and Real Madrid constituted a selective economic advantage
for Real Madrid in the sense of Article 107(1) TFEU. Before
delving into that analysis, the blog will commence with the other pending
question, namely whether the Commission also scrutinized the legality of the operation Bernabeú-Opañel under EU State aid law. By way of
reminder, this operation consisted of Real Madrid receiving from the
municipality the land adjacent to the Bernabéu stadium, while transferring in
return €6.6 million, as well as plots of land in other areas of the city. More...
Out of all the State aid investigations of recent years involving
professional football clubs, the outcome of the Real Madrid case was probably the most eagerly awaited.
Few football clubs have such a global impact as this Spanish giant, and any
news item involving the club, whether positive or negative, is bound to make
the headlines everywhere around the globe. But for many Spaniards, this case
involves more than a simple measure by a public authority scrutinized by the
European Commission. For them, it exemplifies the questionable relationship
between the private and the public sector in a country sick of never-ending
Moreover, Spain is only starting to recover from its worst financial crisis in
decades, a crisis founded on real estate speculation, but whose effects were
mostly felt by ordinary citizens.
Given that the Real Madrid case
involves fluctuating values of land that are transferred from the municipality
to the club, and vice versa, it represents a type of operation that used to be
very common in the Spanish professional football sector, but has come under
critical scrutiny in recent years. More...
On 28 September 2016, the Commission published the
non-confidential version of its negative Decision and recovery order regarding the preferential
corporate tax treatment of Real Madrid, Athletic Bilbao, Osasuna and FC
Barcelona. It is the second-to-last publication of the Commission’s Decisions
concerning State aid granted to professional football clubs, all announced on 4 July of this year.
Contrary to the other “State aid in football” cases, this Decision concerns
State aid and taxation, a very hot topic in
today’s State aid landscape. Obviously, this Decision will not have the same
impact as other prominent tax decisions, such as the ones concerning Starbucks and Apple.
This case dates back to November 2009, when a representative
of a number of investors specialised in the purchase of publicly listed shares,
and shareholders of a number of European football clubs drew the attention of
the Commission to a possible preferential corporate tax treatment of the four
mentioned Spanish clubs.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 overlooked.
September hosted the very last bit of the sport summer 2016, most
notably in the form of the Rio Paralympic Games. Next to the spectacular
achievements displayed during these games, in the realm of sports law similar
thrilling developments hit town. The first very much expected #Sportslaw
highlight was the decision by the German Bundesgerichtshof
in the case concerning SV Wilhelmshaven. The second major (less expected) story
was the Statement of Objections issued by the European Commission against the International
Football intermediaries, or agents, are again under attack in the news. For some, corrupt behaviour has become endemic in football’s culture. It is always dangerous to scapegoat a whole profession or a group of
people. Many intermediaries are trying their best to lawfully defend the
interests of their clients, but some are not. The key focus should be on
providing an adequate legal and administrative framework to limit the
opportunities for corrupt behaviour in the profession. This is easier said than
done, however. We are dealing with an intrinsically transnationalized business,
often conducted by intermediaries who are not subjected to the disciplinary
power of federations. Sports governing bodies are lacking the police power and
human resources necessary to force the intermediaries to abide by their private
standards. In this context, this blog aims to review a recent case in front of
the regional court of Frankfurt in Germany, which highlights the legal
challenges facing (and leeway available to) national federations when
regulating the profession. 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...
This is part two of the blog on the Willem
II and MVV State Aid decisions. Where
part one served as an introduction on the two cases, part two will analyze the
compatibility assessment made by the Commission in two decisions.
compatibility of the aid to MVV and Willem II (re-)assessed
Even though it was the Netherlands’
task to invoke possible grounds of compatibility and to demonstrate that the
conditions for such compatibility were met, the aid granted to both Willem II
and MVV was never notified. The Netherland’s failure to fulfill its notification
obligation, therefore, appears to be at odds with the Commission’s final
decision to declare the aid compatible with EU law. Yet, a closer look at the
Commission’s decision of 6 March 2013 to launch the formal investigation shows
that the Commission was giving the Netherlands a ‘second chance’ to invoke
grounds that would lead to a justification of the measures.More...
The European Commission’s decisions of 4 July 2016 to order the recovery of the State aid granted to seven
Spanish professional football clubs
were in a previous blog called historic. It was
the first time that professional football clubs have been ordered to repay aid
received from (local) public authorities. Less attention has been given to five
other decisions also made public that day, which cleared support measures for five football clubs in the Netherlands. The clubs in question were PSV Eindhoven, MVV Maastricht, NEC Nijmegen,
FC Den Bosch and Willem II.
Given the inherent political sensitivity of State aid recovery
decisions, it is logical that the “Spanish decisions” were covered more widely
than the “Dutch decisions”. Furthermore, clubs like Real Madrid and FC
Barcelona automatically get more media attention than FC Den Bosch or Willem
II. Yet, even though the “Dutch decisions” are of a lower profile, from an EU
State aid law perspective, they are not necessarily less interesting.
A few days before entering the quiet month of August, the Commission
published the non-confidential versions of its decisions concerning PSV Eindhoven, Willem II and MVV Maastricht (hereinafter:
“MVV”). The swiftness of these publications is somewhat surprising, since it often
takes at least three months to solve all the confidentiality issues.
Nonetheless, nobody will complain (especially not me) about this opportunity to
analyze in depth these new decisions. More...