Editor’s note: Sven Demeulemeester and Niels Verborgh
are sports lawyers at the Belgium law firm, Altius.
16 November 2018 judgment, the Court of Justice of the
European Free Trade Association States (the EFTA Court) delivered its eagerly
awaited ruling in the case involving Henrik Kristoffersen and the Norwegian Ski
On 17 October
2016, Kristoffersen had taken the NSF to the Oslo District Court over the
latter’s refusal to let the renowned alpine skier enter into a sponsorship with
Red Bull. At stake were the commercial markings on his helmet and headgear in
races organised under the NSF’s umbrella. The NSF refused this sponsorship because
it had already granted the advertising on helmet and headgear to its own main
sponsor, Telenor. Kristoffersen claimed before the Oslo District Court, that the
NSF should be ordered to permit him to enter into an individual marketing
contract with Red Bull. In the alternative, Kristoffersen claimed damages up to
a maximum of NOK 15 million. By a letter of 25
September 2017, the Oslo District Court referred several legal questions to the
EFTA Court in view of shedding light on the compatibility of the rules that the
NSF had invoked with EEA law.
If rules do not relate to the conduct of the
sport itself, but concern sponsorship rights and hence an economic activity,
these rules are subject to EEA law. The EFTA Court ruling is important in that
it sets out the framework for dealing with - ever more frequent - cases in
which an individual athlete’s endorsement deals conflict with the interest of
the national or international sports governing bodies (SGBs) that he or she
represents in international competitions.More...
Season 2 of #FootballLeaks is now underway
since more than a week and already a significant number of episodes (all the articles published can be found on the European Investigative Collaborations’ website) covering various aspect of the (lack of)
transnational regulation of football have been released (a short German documentary sums up pretty much the state of play). For
me, as a legal scholar, this new series of revelations is an exciting
opportunity to discuss in much more detail than usual various questions related
to the operation of the transnational private regulations of football imposed by
FIFA and UEFA (as we already did during the initial football leaks with our series of blogs on TPO in 2015/2016). Much of what
has been unveiled was known or suspected by many, but the scope and precision
of the documents published makes a difference. At last, the general public, as
well as academics, can have certainty about the nature of various shady practices
in the world of football. One key characteristic that explains the lack of
information usually available is that football, like many international sports,
is actually governed by private administrations (formally Swiss associations),
which are not subject to the similar obligations in terms of transparency than
public ones (e.g. access to document rules, systematic publication of decisions,
etc.). In other words, it’s a total black box! The football leaks are offering
a rare sneak peak into that box.
Based on what I have read so far
(this blog was written on Friday 9 November), there are three main aspects I
find worthy of discussion:
- The (lack of) enforcement of UEFA’s
Financial Fair Play (FFP) Regulations
- The European Super League project and
EU competition law
(lack of) separation of powers inside FIFA and UEFA More...
Editor's note: In the coming days we will introduce the supporters of our upcoming ISLJ Annual International Sports Law Conference 2018 (also known as #ISLJConf18). To do so, we have sent them a tailored questionnaire aimed at reflecting both their activities and their expectations for the conference. It is a good opportunity for us to thank them for their enthusiastic support and commitment to international sports law research. We are very happy to finish this series of interviews with Sven Demeulemeester from Altius, a Belgian law firm based in Brussels with a very fine (and academically-minded!) sports law team.
1. Can you explain to our readers the work of Altius in international sports law?
Across different sports’ sectors, Altius’ sports law practice advises and assists some of the world’s most high-profile sports governing bodies, clubs and athletes, at both the national and the international level. The team has 6 fully-dedicated sports lawyers and adopts a multi-disciplinary approach, which guarantees a broad range of legal expertise for handling specific cases or wider issues related to the sports industry. We are proud to be independent but, in cross-border matters, are able to tap into a worldwide network.
2. How is it to be an international sports lawyer? What are the advantages and challenges of the job?
Sports law goes beyond one specific field of law. The multiplicity of legal angles keeps the work interesting, even after years of practising, and ensures that a sports lawyer rarely has a dull moment. The main downside is that the sports industry is fairly conservative and sometimes ‘political’. While the law is one thing, what happens in practice is often another. Bringing about change is not always easy.
3. What are the burning issues in international sports law that you would like to see discussed at the conference?
The much-anticipated overhaul of the football transfer system is eagerly anticipated and is worth a thorough debate, also in terms of possible, viable alternatives. The impact of EU law - both internal market rules, competition law and fundamental rights – can hardly be underestimated. Also, dispute resolution mechanisms within the realm of sports - and an accessible, transparent, independent and impartial sports arbitration in particular - will remain a ‘hot’ topic in the sector for years to come. Furthermore, ethics and integrity issues should remain top of the agenda, as is being demonstrated by the current money-laundering and match-fixing allegations in Belgium. Finally, in a sector in which the use of data is rife, the newly-adopted GDPR’s impact remains somewhat ‘under the radar’.
4. Why did you decide to support the ISLJ Annual International Sports Law Conference?
The ISLJ Annual International Sports Law Conference is refreshing, both in terms of its topics and participants. The academic and content-driven approach is a welcome addition to other sports law conferences in which the networking aspect often predominates.
Editor's note: In the coming days we will introduce the supporters of our upcoming ISLJ Annual International Sports Law Conference 2018 (also known as #ISLJConf18). To do so, we have sent them a tailored questionnaire aimed at reflecting both their activities and their expectations for the conference. It is a good opportunity for us to thank them for their enthusiastic support and commitment to international sports law research. We are very proud to start this series of interviews with Women in Sports Law, an association launched in 2016 and which has already done so much to promote and advance the role of women in international sports law (many thanks to Despina Mavromati for kindly responding to our questions on behalf of WISLaw).
1. Can you explain to our readers what WISLaw is
Women In Sports Law (WISLaw, www.wislaw.co) is an international association based in Lausanne that unites more
than 300 women from 50 countries specializing in sports law. It is a
professional network that aims at increasing the visibility of women working in
the sector, through a detailed members’ directory and various small-scale talks
and events held in different countries around the world. These small-scale
events give the opportunity to include everyone in the discussion and enhance the
members’ network. Men from the sector and numerous arbitral institutions,
conference organizers and universities have come to actively support our
2. What are the challenges and opportunities for
women getting involved in international sports law?
Women used to be invisible in this sector. All-male
panels were typical at conferences and nobody seemed to notice this flagrant
lack of diversity. WISLaw created this much-needed platform to increase
visibility through the members’ directory and through a series of small-scale
events where all members, independent of their status or seniority, can attend
and be speakers.
Another difficulty is that European football (soccer)
is traditionally considered to be a “male-dominated” sport, despite the fact
that there are so many great female football teams around the world. The same misperception
applies to sports lawyers!
Last, there is a huge number of women lawyers
working as in-house counsel and as sports administrators. There is a glass
ceiling for many of those women, and the WISLaw annual evaluation of the
participation of women in those positions attempts to target their issues and
shed more light into this specific problem.
3. What are the burning issues in international
sports law that you would like to see discussed at the conference?
The ISLJ Annual Conference has already set up a
great lineup of topics combining academic and more practical discussions in
the most recent issues in international sports law.
4. Why did you decide to support the ISLJ Annual
International Sports Law Conference?
International Sports Law Centre has promoted and supported WISLaw since the
very beginning. The ISLJ Annual International Sports Law Conference was the
first big conference to officially include a WISLaw lunch talk in its program,
allowing thus the conference attendees to be part of a wider informal
discussion on a specific topical issue and raise their questions with respect
to WISLaw. Another important reason why WISLaw supports this conference is
because the conference organizers are making sincere efforts to have increased
diversity in the panels : this year’s ISLJ Annual International Sports Law
Conference is probably the first sports law conference to come close to a full gender
balance in its panels, with 40% of the speakers being women !
Editor’s note: Stefano
Bastianon is Associate Professor in EU Law and EU sports law at the University
of Bergamo and lawyer admitted to the Busto Arsizio bar. He is also member of
the IVth Division of the High Court of Sport Justice (Collegio di
Garanzia dello sport) at the National Olympic Committee.
1. On the
20th July 2018, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (hereinafter
referred to as “CAS”) issued its decision in the arbitration procedure between AC Milan
and UEFA. The subject matter of this arbitration procedure was
the appeal filed by AC Milan against the decision of the
Adjudicatory Chamber of the UEFA Financial Control Body
dated 19th June 2018 (hereinafter referred to as “the contested
decision”). As many likely know, the CAS has acknowledged that, although AC
Milan was in breach of the break-even requirement, the related exclusion of the
club from the UEFA Europe League was not proportionate. To date, it is the
first time the CAS clearly ruled that the sanction of exclusion from UEFA club
competitions for a breach of the break-even requirement was not proportionate.
For this reason the CAS award represents a good opportunity to reflect on the
proportionality test under Art. 101 TFEU and the relationship between the
landmark ruling of the European Court of Justice (hereinafter referred to as
“ECJ”) in the Meca Medina and Majcen affair and the very recent case-law of the CAS. More...
My favourite speed skater (Full
disclosure: I have a thing for speed skaters bothering the ISU), Claudia
Pechstein, is back in the news! And not from the place I expected. While
all my attention was absorbed by the Bundesverfassungsgericht in Karlsruhe (BVerfG
or German Constitutional Court), I should have looked to the European Court of
Human Rights in Strasbourg (ECtHR). The Pechstein and Mutu joint cases were pending
for a long time (since 2010) and I did not anticipate
that the ECtHR would render its decision before the BVerfG. The decision released last
week (only available in French at this stage) looked at first like a renewed
vindication of the CAS (similar to the Bundesgerichtshof (BGH) ruling
in the Pechstein case), and is being presented
like that by the CAS, but after careful reading of the judgment I believe this is rather
a pyrrhic victory for the status quo
at the CAS. As I will show, this ruling puts to rest an important debate
surrounding CAS arbitration since 20 years: CAS arbitration is (at least in its
much-used appeal format in disciplinary cases) forced arbitration. Furthermore,
stemming from this important acknowledgment is the recognition that CAS proceedings
must comply with Article 6 § 1 of the European Convention of Human
Rights (ECHR), in particular hearings must in principle be held in public and
decisions freely available to all. Finally, I will criticise the Court’s
finding that CAS complies with the requirements of independence and
impartiality imposed by Article 6 § 1 ECHR. I will not rehash the well-known facts of both cases, in order to
focus on the core findings of the decision. More...
Last year we decided to launch the 'ISLJ Annual International Sports Law Conference' in order to give a public platform to the academic discussions on international sports law featured in the ISLJ. The first edition of the conference was a great success (don't take my word for it, just check out #ISLJConf17 on twitter), featuring outstanding speakers and lively discussions with the room. We were very happy to see people from some many different parts of the world congregating at the Institute to discuss the burning issues of their field of practice and research.
This year, on 25 and 26 October, we are hosting the second edition and we are again welcoming well-known academics and practitioners in the field. The discussions will turn around the notion of lex sportiva, the role of Swiss law in international sports law, the latest ISU decision of the European Commission, the Mutu/Pechstein ruling of the European Court of Human Rights, or the reform proposal of the FIFA Regulations on the Transfer and Status of Players. It should be, it will be, an exciting two days!
You will find below the final programme of the conference, please feel free to circulate it within your networks. We have still some seats left, so don't hesitate to register (here) and to join us.
Looking forward to seeing you and meeting you there!
Editor's note: Panagiotis
Roumeliotis holds an LL.B. degree from National and Kapodistrian University of
Athens, Greece and an LL.M. degree in European and International Tax Law from
University of Luxembourg. He is qualified lawyer in Greece and is presently
working as tax advisor with KPMG Luxembourg while pursuing, concomitantly, an
LL.M. in International Sports Law at Sheffield Hallam University, England. His
interest lies in the realm of tax and sports law. He may be contacted by e-mail
The landmark Bosman
the Europeanization of the labour market for football players by banning
nationality quotas. In turn, in conjunction with the boom in TV revenues, this
led to a flourishing transfer market in which players’ agents or intermediaries
play a pivotal role, despite having a controversial
As a preliminary remark, it is important to touch upon the fiduciary
duty of sports agents towards their clients. The
principal-agent relationship implies that the former employs the agent so as to
secure the best employment and/or commercial opportunities. Conversely, the
latter is expected to act in the interest of the player as their relationship should be
predicated on trust and confidence, as much was made
clear in the English
Court of Appeal case of Imageview Management
Ltd v. Kelvin Jack. Notably, agents are bound to exercise the utmost
degree of good faith, honesty and loyalty towards the players.
At the core of this blog
lies a comparative case study
of the implementation of the FIFA Regulations on working with intermediaries (hereinafter “FIFA RWI”) in eight European FAs covering most of the transfers during the mercato. I will then critically analyze
the issues raised by the implementation of the RWI and, as a conclusion, offer
some recommendations. More...
Rumours are swirling around the
decision (available in French here) of the Court of Appeal of Brussels in the
case opposing RFC Seraing United to FIFA (as well as UEFA and the Belgian
Football Federation, URSBFA) over the latter’s ban on third-party ownership.
The headlines in various media are quite dramatic (see here and here), references are made to a new Bosman, or to a shaken sport’s legal system. Yet, after swiftly reading the
decision for the first time on 29th August, I did not have, unlike with the Pechstein
ruling of the Oberlandesgericht München, the immediate impression that this
would be a major game-changer for the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and
the role of arbitration in sports in general. After careful re-reading, I
understand how certain parts of the ruling can be misunderstood or
over-interpreted. I believe that much of the press coverage failed to accurately
reflect the reasoning of the court and to capture the real impact of the
decision. In order to explain why, I decided to write a short Q&A
(including the (not water-proof) English translations of some of the key
paragraphs of the decision).
Asser Instituut offers post-graduate students the opportunity to gain practical
experience in the field of international and European sports law. The
T.M.C. Asser Instituut, located in The Hague, is an inter-university research
institute specialized in international and European law. Since 2002, it is the
home of the ASSER International Sports Law Centre, a pioneer in the field of
European and international sports law. More...