note: Emilio García (email@example.com) is a doctor in law and head of disciplinary and
integrity at UEFA. Before joining UEFA, he was the Spanish Football
Federation’s legal director (2004–12) and an arbitrator at the CAS (2012–13).In
this blog, Emilio García provides a brief review of a recent case before the Court
of Arbitration for Sport (CAS): Klubi
Sportiv Skënderbeu v UEFA
(CAS 2016/A/4650), in
which he acted as main counsel for UEFA.
match-fixing – A quick overview
Match-fixing is now legally defined as “an intentional
arrangement, act or omission aimed at an improper alteration of the result or
the course of a sports competition in order to remove all or part of the
unpredictable nature of the aforementioned sports competition with a view to
obtaining an undue advantage for oneself or for others”.
It has been said that there has always been match-fixing in sport.
From the ancient Olympic Games to the most important global sports competitions
of today, manipulation of results has always been an all-too-frequent occurrence.
We have seen a number of very prominent instances of
this kind of issue over the years. One of the most remarkable examples, which was
even the subject of a film,
was the match-fixing episode during the 1919 World Series, where several
players from the Chicago White Sox were found guilty of accepting bribes and
deliberately losing matches against the Cincinnati Reds.
The situation has changed considerably since then. In particular,
the globalisation of the sports betting industry has had a massive impact, with
recent studies estimating that between €200bn and €500bn is betted on sport
Match-fixing does not just affect football either;
it is also affecting other sports, most notably tennis. 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...
Editor's note: This blog is part of a special blog series on the Russian doping scandal at the CAS. Last year I analysed the numerous decisions rendered by the CAS ad hoc Division in Rio and earlier this year I reviewed the CAS award in the IAAF case.
the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), the
International Paralympic Committee (IPC) was very much unaffected by the
Russian doping scandal until the publication of the first McLaren report in July
report highlighted that Russia’s doping scheme was way more comprehensive than
what was previously thought. It extended beyond athletics to other disciplines,
including Paralympic sports. Furthermore, unlike the International Olympic
Committee (IOC) the IPC had a bit more time to deal with the matter, as the Rio
Paralympic Games were due to start “only” in September.
the release of the McLaren Report, the IPC president Sir Philip Craven was “truly shocked, appalled
and deeply saddened at the extent of the state sponsored doping programme
implemented in Russia”. He immediately announced the IPC’s intention to review
the report’s findings and to act strongly upon them. Shortly thereafter, on 22
July, the IPC decided to open suspension proceedings
against the National Paralympic Committee of Russia (NPC Russia) in light of
its apparent inability to fulfil its IPC membership responsibilities and
obligations. In particular, due to “the prevailing doping culture endemic
within Russian sport, at the very highest levels, NPC Russia appears unable or
unwilling to ensure compliance with and the enforcement of the IPC’s
Anti-Doping Code within its own national jurisdiction”. A few weeks later, on 7
August, the IPC Governing Board decided to suspend the Russian
Paralympic Committee with immediate effect “due to its inability to fulfil its
IPC membership responsibilities and obligations, in particular its obligation
to comply with the IPC Anti-Doping Code and the World Anti-Doping Code (to which
it is also a signatory)”. Indeed, these “obligations are a fundamental
constitutional requirement for all National Paralympic Committees (NPCs), and
are vital to the IPC’s ability to ensure fair competition and to provide a
level playing field for all Para athletes around the world”. Consequently, the
Russian Paralympic Committee lost all rights and privileges of IPC membership. Specifically,
it was not entitled to enter athletes in competitions sanctioned by the IPC,
and/or to participate in IPC activities. Thus, “the Russian Paralympic
Committee will not be able to enter its athletes in the Rio 2016 Paralympic
Since the release of the earth-shattering
ARD documentary two years ago, the
athletics world has been in a permanent turmoil. The International Athletics
Association Federation (IAAF) is faced with both a never-ending corruption
scandal (playing out in front of the French police authorities) and the related systematic doping of Russian
athletes. The situation escalated in different phases led by the revelations of
Russian insiders. First, in December 2014 with the ARD documentary, which demonstrated
how widespread (and organized) the recourse to doping was in Russian athletics.
It triggered the Pound investigation financed by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which led to two
damaging reports (available here and here) for the Russian
anti-doping system and the IAAF itself. Thereafter, in November 2015, the IAAF
had no other choice but to provisionally suspend the Russian athletics
federation (ARAF then RusAF) and its members from IAAF competitions. Yet, this
was only the beginning as shortly after the former head of Moscow’s anti-doping
laboratory provided a
detailed sketch to the New York Times
of the operation of a general state-led doping scheme in Russia. The system was
designed to avert any positive doping tests for top-level Russian sportspeople and
was going way beyond athletics. These allegations were later largely confirmed
and reinforced by the McLaren investigation initiated by WADA in May 2016, and which published its first report in July 2016 shortly before the Rio Olympics. In June 2016, the IAAF anticipated
the conclusions of the report (it had received most of McLaren’s evidence beforehand) and decided to
maintain the ineligibility of Russian athletes for IAAF competitions, and for
the Rio Olympics. It did, however, foresee a narrow exception for Russian
athletes able to show that they were properly tested outside of Russia.
Nonetheless, the athletes using this exception were to compete under a neutral
flag at the Olympics. Unsurprisingly, Russian athletes led by pole superstar
(and now IOC member), Yelena Isinbayeva, and the Russian Olympic Committee
decided to challenge this decision in front of the Court of Arbitration for
Sport (CAS). Interestingly, while the decision was rendered on 21 July 2016, the
full text of the award was publically released only on 10 October 2016. In September,
I analysed the Rio
CAS Ad Hoc Decisions involving Russian athletes aiming to participate to the
Olympics. I will now turn to the IAAF
decision, which is of great importance to the future of the anti-doping system.
Indeed, it lays out the fundamental legal boundaries of the capacity of
international federations to impose sanctions on their members (and their
members) in order to support the world anti-doping fight. 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
The Russian State Doping Scandal and the
crisis of the World Anti-Doping System
doping and the state of the Anti-Doping System has been the dominant international
sports law story in November and December. This is mainly due to the release of
of the McLaren’s investigation on 9 December 2016. The
outcome of McLaren’s work showed a “well-oiled systemic cheating scheme” that
reached to the highest level of Russian sports and government, involving the striking
figure of 30 sports and more than 1000 athletes in doping practices over four
years and two Olympic Games. The report detailed tampering with samples to swap
out athletes’ dirty urine with clean urine.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...
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.
are looking for an International Sports Law Intern (with a particular interest
in the CAS)! More information can be found here.
The (terrible) State of the World
The fight against doping is still on
top of the agenda after the Russian doping scandal. The national anti-doping
organizations (NADOs) have reiterated their call for an in depth reform of the
World Anti-Doping Agency at a special summit in Bonn, Germany. These reforms are deemed urgent
and necessary to “restore confidence of clean athletes and those who value the
integrity of sport” and secure “the public’s desire for a fair and level
playing field”. The NADOs propose, amongst others things, to separate the
investigatory, testing and results management functions from sports
organizations, and to remove sports administrators from crucial anti-doping
executive functions. More...
Editor's Note: Marjolaine is an attorney admitted to the Geneva bar (Switzerland) who specialises in sports and life sciences. She currently participates as a scientific collaborator at the University of Neuchâtel on a research project to produce the first article-by-article legal commentary of the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code. Her latest book Evidence in Anti-Doping at
the Intersection of Science & Law was published in 2016 in the International Sports Law Book Series of T.M.C. ASSER Press.
On 30 September 2016, a panel of the Court
of Arbitration for Sport (“CAS”) rendered its award
in the matter opposing high-profile tennis player Maria Sharapova to the
International Tennis Federation (“ITF”). Maria Sharapova was appealing the
two-year ban imposed on
her by the ITF Tribunal in June 2016 for her use of Meldonium, a substance
newly added to the WADA Prohibited List 2016.
Since neither the ITF nor WADA had chosen to challenge the Tribunal’s decision,
the stakes of the case were rather simple: would the player convince the CAS
panel that she should benefit from a finding of “No Significant Fault or
thereby allowing for a reduction of the sanction down to a minimum of one year,
or should the decision of the Tribunal be upheld? In its award, the CAS panel
decided to grant such finding and reduced the sanction to 15 months.
This blog does not purport to be a ‘comment’
on the CAS award. Rather, it seeks to place the Sharapova matter into a broader
context with respect to a specific issue: the expectations on Athletes when it
comes to their awareness of the prohibited character of a substance,
specifically when taking a medication.
In July 2016, I presented at the T.M.C Asser Institute in The Hague various current
challenges of anti-doping that the Meldonium cases exposed (see the video here). One of these
challenges concerned the modalities for including new substances onto the
Prohibited List. This blog represents a follow-up on my presentation, in the
light of the findings contained in the CAS award. 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...