The first part of this series looked at the legal framework in which FFP
sits, concluding that FFP occupied a ‘marginal’ legal position – perhaps
legal, perhaps not. Given the significant financial
interests in European football – UEFA’s figures suggest aggregate revenue of nearly €17 billion as at clubs’ 2015
accounts – and the close correlation between clubs’ spending on wages and their
success on the field, a legal
challenge to the legality of FFP’s ‘break even’ requirement (the Break Even
Requirement), which restricts a particular means of spending, was perhaps
And so it followed.
Challenges to the legality of
the Break Even Requirement have been brought by football agent Daniel Striani,
through various organs of justice of the European Union and through the Belgian
courts; and by Galatasaray in the Court of Arbitration for Sport. As an
interesting footnote, both Striani and Galatasaray were advised by “avocat superstar” Jean-Louis Dupont, the lawyer who acted in several of sports law’s
most famous cases, including the seminal Bosman case. Dupont has been a vocal critic of FFP’s legality since its inception. More...
Editor's Note: Christopher is an editor of the Asser International Sports Law Blog. His research interests cover a spectrum of sports law topics, with a focus on financial regulatory disputes, particularly in professional football, a topic on which he has regularly lectured at the University of the West of England.
It is five years since the Union of
European Football Associations (UEFA) formally introduced ‘Financial Fair Play’
(FFP) into European football through its Club
Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations, Edition 2012. With FFP having now been in
place for a number of years, we are in a position to analyse its effect, its
legality, and how the rules have altered over the last half decade in response
to legal challenges and changing policy priorities. This article is split into
three parts: The first will look at the background, context and law applicable
to FFP; Part Two will look at the legal challenges FFP has faced; and Part
Three will look at how FFP has iteratively changed, considering its normative
impact, and the future of the rules. 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.
ISLJ Annual Conference on International Sports Law
On 26 and 27 October 2017, the T.M.C. Asser Institute in The Hague will host the first ever ISLJ Annual International Sports Law Conference. This year's edition will feature panels on the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the world anti-doping system, the FIFA transfer regulations, human rights and sports, the labour rights of athletes, and EU law and sport. We will also welcome the following distinguished keynote speakers:
- Miguel Maduro, former Advocate General at the European Court of Justice and former head of the FIFA's Governance Committee;
- Michael Beloff QC, English barrister known as one of the 'Godfathers' of sports law;
- Stephen Weatherill, Professor at Oxford University and a scholarly authority on EU law and sport;
- Richard McLaren, CAS Arbitrator, sports law scholar and former head of the World Anti-Doping Agency's investigation into the Russian doping scandal.
You will find all the necessary information related to the conference here. Do not forget to register as soon as possible if you want to secure a place on the international sports law pitch! [Please note that we have a limited amount of seats available, which will be attributed on a 'first come, first served' basis.] More...
Tomáš Grell holds an LL.M.
in Public International Law from Leiden University. He contributes to
the work of the ASSER International Sports Law Centre as a research
Concerns about adverse
human rights impacts related to FIFA's activities have intensified ever since its
late 2010 decision to award the 2018 and 2022 World Cup to Russia and Qatar
respectively. However, until recently, the world's governing body of football
had done little to eliminate these concerns, thereby encouraging human rights
advocates to exercise their critical eye on FIFA.
In response to growing
criticism, the Extraordinary FIFA Congress, held in February 2016, decided to include an explicit
human rights commitment in the revised FIFA Statutes which came into force in April 2016. This commitment
is encapsulated in Article 3 which reads as follows: ''FIFA is committed to respecting all internationally recognized human
rights and shall strive to promote the protection of these rights''. At
around the same time, Professor John Ruggie, the author of the United Nations Guiding
Principles on Business and Human Rights ('UN Guiding
Principles') presented in his report 25 specific recommendations for FIFA on how to
further embed respect for human rights across its global operations. While
praising the decision to make a human rights commitment part of the
organization's constituent document, Ruggie concluded that ''FIFA does not have yet adequate systems in
place enabling it to know and show that it respects human rights in practice''.
With the 2018 World Cup
in Russia less than a year away, the time is ripe to look at whether Ruggie's
statement about FIFA's inability to respect human rights still holds true
today. This blog outlines the most salient human rights risks related to FIFA's
activities and offers a general overview of what the world's governing body of
football did over the past twelve months to mitigate these risks. Information
about FIFA's human rights activities is collected primarily from its Activity Update on Human Rights published alongside FIFA's Human Rights Policy in June 2017. 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.
ISLJ Annual Conference on International Sports Law
On 26 and 27 October, the T.M.C. Asser Institute in The Hague will host the first ever ISLJ Annual International Sports Law Conference. This year’s edition will feature panels on the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the world anti-doping system, the FIFA transfer regulations, human rights and sports, the labour rights of athletes, and EU law and sport. More...
Editor’s note: Mario Vigna is a Senior
Associate at Coccia De Angelis Vecchio & Associati in Rome, Italy. His main
practice areas are sports law, commercial law, and IP law. He also has
extensive experience in the Anti-doping field, serving as Deputy-Chief
Prosecutor of the Italian NADO and as counsel in domestic and international sports
proceedings. He is a frequent speaker at various conferences and workshops. He was
not involved in either of the cases discussed below.
Gambling in football is a
popular and potentially lucrative activity. It also raises numerous issues. When
faced with the issue of gambling, the European Court of Justice (now Court of
Justice of the EU) determined that gambling was economic activity per se, notwithstanding gambling’s
vulnerability to ethical issues, and thus could not be prohibited outright.
With the legality of gambling established, it was left to the proper
legislative bodies (national legislatures, national and international federations,
etc.) to regulate gambling in order to guard against fraud and corruption. Gambling
was not going to disappear; the dangers inherent to gambling would require
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
The end of governance reforms at FIFA?
The main sports governance
story that surfaced in the press (see here and here) during the last month is related to significant
personal changes made by the FIFA Council within the organization’s
institutional structure. In particular, the FIFA Council dismissed the heads of
the investigatory (Mr Cornel Borbély) and adjudicatory (Mr Hans-Joachim Eckert)
chambers of the Independent Ethics Committee, as well as the Head (Mr Miguel Maduro) of the Governance and Review Committee. The decision to remove Mr Maduro was taken arguably
in response to his active role in barring Mr Vitaly Mutko, a Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, from sitting on
the FIFA Council due to an imminent conflict of interests. These events
constitute a major setback to governance reforms initiated by the football’s
world governing body in 2015. For a more detailed insight into the governance
reforms at FIFA, we invite you to read the recent blog written by our senior researcher Mr
Antoine Duval. More...
Editor’s note: Serhat
is a lecturer in sports law in Loughborough University. His research focuses on
the regulatory framework applicable to intermediaries. Antoine Duval (@Ant1Duval) is the head of
the Asser International Sports Law Centre.
Last week, while FIFA was firing
the heads of its Ethics and Governance committees, the press was overwhelmed
with ‘breaking news’ on the most expensive transfer in history, the come back
of Paul Pogba from Juventus F.C. to Manchester United. Indeed, Politiken
(a Danish newspaper) and Mediapart
(a French website specialized in investigative journalism) had jointly
discovered in the seemingly endless footballleaks
files that Pogba’s agent, Mino Raiola, was involved (and financially
interested) with all three sides (Juventus, Manchester United and Pogba) of the
transfer. In fine, Raiola earned a grand total of € 49,000,000 out of the deal,
a shocking headline number almost as high as Pogba’s total salary at
Manchester, without ever putting a foot on a pitch. This raised eyebrows,
especially that an on-going investigation by FIFA into the transfer was
mentioned, but in the media the sketching of the legal situation was very often
extremely confusing and weak. Is this type of three-way representation legal
under current rules? Could Mino Raiola, Manchester United, Juventus or Paul
Pogba face any sanctions because of it? What does this say about the
effectiveness of FIFA’s Regulations
on Working with Intermediaries? All these questions deserve thorough
answers in light of the publicity of this case, which we ambition to provide in
Doyen (aka Doyen Sports Investment Limited) is
nothing short of heroic in its fight against FIFA’s TPO ban. It has (sometimes
indirectly through RFC Seraing) attacked the ban in front of the French courts,
the Belgium courts, the European Commission and the Court of Arbitration for
Sport. This costly, and until now fruitless, legal battle has been chronicled
in numerous of our blogs (here
It is coordinated by Jean-Louis Dupont, a lawyer who is, to say the least, not
afraid of fighting the windmills of sport’s private regulators. Yet, this time
around he might have hit the limits of his stubbornness and legal ‘maestria’.
As illustrated by the most recent decision of the saga, rendered in March by
the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in a case opposing the Belgium club
RFC Seraing (or Seraing) to FIFA. The arguments in favour of the ban might override
those against it. At least this is the view espoused by the CAS, and until
tested in front of another court (preferably the CJEU) it will remain an influential
one. The French text of the CAS award has just been published
and I will take the opportunity of having for once an award in my native
language to offer a first assessment of the CAS’s reasoning in the case,
especially with regard to its application of EU law. More...
Editor’s Note: Saverio Spera
is an Italian lawyer and LL.M. graduate in International Business Law at King’s
College London. He is currently an intern at the ASSER International Sports Law
football world the use of unilateral extension options (hereafter UEOs) in
favour of the clubs is common practice. Clubs in Europe and, especially, South
America make extensive use of this type of contractual clauses, since it gives
them the exclusive possibility to prolong the employment relationship with
players whose contracts are about to come to an end. This option gives to a
club the right to extend the duration of a player’s contract for a certain
agreed period after its initial expiry, provided that some previously
negotiated conditions are met. In particular, these clauses allow clubs to sign
young promising players for short-term contracts, in order to ascertain their
potential, and then extend the length of their contracts.
Here lies the great value of UEOs for clubs: they can let the player go if he
is not performing as expected, or unilaterally retain him if he is deemed
valuable. Although an indisputably beneficial contractual tool for any football
club, these clauses are especially useful to clubs specialized in the
development of young players. After
case, clubs have increasingly used these clauses in order to prevent players
from leaving their clubs for free at the end of their contracts. The
FIFA Regulations do not contain any provisions regulating this practice,
consequently the duty of clarifying the scope and validity of the options lied
with the national courts, the FIFA Dispute Resolution Chamber (DRC) and the
CAS. This two-part blog will attempt to provide the first general overview on
the issue. My
first blog will be dedicated to the validity of UEOs clauses in light of
national laws and of the jurisprudence of numerous European jurisdictions. In a
second blog, I will review the jurisprudence of the DRC and the CAS on this