Editor's note: We (Ben Van Rompuy and Antoine Duval) are at the origin of today's decision by the European Commission finding that the International Skating Union's eligibility rules are contrary to EU competition law. In 2014, we were both struck by the news that ISU threatened lifetime ban against speed skaters wishing to participate in the then projected Icederby competitions and convinced that it was running against the most fundamental principles of EU competition law. We got in touch with Mark and Niels and lodged on their behalf a complaint with the European Commission. Three years after we are pleased to see that the European Commission, and Commissioner Vestager in particular, fully embraced our arguments and we believe this decision will shift the tectonic structure of sports governance in favour of athletes for years to come.
Here is our official statement:
Today is a great day for Mark Tuitert and Niels Kerstholt, but more importantly for all European athletes. The European Commission did not only consider the International Skating Union's eligibility rules contrary to European law, it sent out a strong message to all international sports federations that the interests of those who are at the centre of sports, the athletes, should not be disregarded. This case was always about giving those that dedicate their lives to excelling in a sport a chance to compete and to earn a decent living. The majority of athletes are no superstars and struggle to make ends meet and it is for them that this decision can be a game-changer.
However, we want to stress that this case was never about threatening the International Skating Union’s role in regulating its sport. And we very much welcome the exceptional decision taken by the European Commission to refrain from imposing a fine which could have threatened the financial stability of the International Skating Union. The International Skating Union, and other sports federations, are reminded however that they cannot abuse their legitimate regulatory power to protect their economic interests to the detriment of the athletes.
We urge the International Skating Union to enter into negotiations with representatives of the skaters to devise eligibility rules which are respectful of the interests of both the athletes and their sport.
Since the summer of 2014, it has been our honour to stand alongside Mark and Niels in a 'David versus Goliath' like challenge to what we always perceived as an extreme injustice. In this fight, we were also decisively supported by the team of EU Athletes and its Chance to Compete campaign.
Finally, we wish to extend a special thank you to Commissioner Vestager. This case is a small one for the European Commission, but Commissioner Vestager understood from the beginning that small cases do matter to European citizens and that European competition law is there to provide a level playing for all, and we are extremely grateful for her vision.
Dr. Ben Van Rompuy (Leiden University) and Dr. Antoine Duval (T.M.C. Asser Instituut)
Editor's Note: Ryan Gauthier is Assistant Professor at Thompson Rivers University in Canada. Ryan’s research addresses the governance of sports organisations, with a particular focus on international sports organisations. His PhD research examined the accountability of the International Olympic Committee for human rights violations caused by the organisation of the Olympic Games.
Publicly Financing a Stadium – Back in the Saddle(dome)
Calgary, Canada, held their municipal elections on October 16, 2017, re-electing Naheed Nenshi for a third term as mayor. What makes this local election an interesting issue for sports, and sports law, is the domination of the early days of the campaign by one issue – public funding for a new arena for the Calgary Flames. The Flames are Calgary’s National Hockey League (NHL) team, and they play in the Scotiabank Saddledome. More...
Editor’s Note: Oytun
Azkanar holds an LLB degree from Anadolu University in Turkey and an LLM degree
from the University of Melbourne. He is currently
studying Sports Management at the Anadolu University.
October 2017, the Turkish Professional Football Disciplinary Committee (Disciplinary
Committee) rendered an extraordinary decision regarding the fixing of the
game between Manisaspor and Şanlıurfaspor played on 14 May 2017. The case
concerned an alleged match-fixing agreement between Elyasa Süme (former
Gaziantepspor player), İsmail Haktan Odabaşı and Gökhan Sazdağı (Manisaspor
players). The Disciplinary Committee
acknowledged that the evidence
relevant for proving the match-fixing allegations was obtained illegally and therefore
inadmissible, and the remaining evidence was not sufficient to establish that the game
was fixed. Before discussing the allegations, it is important to note that the
decision is not only significant for Turkish football but is also crucial to the
distinction between disciplinary and criminal proceedings in sports. More...
The first part of this
two-part blog on multi-club ownership in European football outlined the circumstances
leading to the adoption of the initial rule(s) aimed at ensuring the integrity
of the UEFA club competitions (Original Rule) and retraced the
early existence of such rule(s), focusing primarily on the complaints brought
before the Court of Arbitration for Sport and the European Commission by the
English company ENIC plc. This second part will, in turn, introduce the
relevant rule as it is currently enshrined in Article 5 of the UCL Regulations
2015-18 Cycle, 2017/18 Season (Current Rule). It will then explore how the UEFA Club Financial
Control Body (CFCB) interpreted and applied the Current Rule in the Red Bull
case, before drawing some concluding remarks. 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
13 September 2017, more than 40,000 people witnessed the successful debut of
the football club RasenBallsport Leipzig (RB Leipzig) in the UEFA Champions
League (UCL) against AS Monaco. In the eyes of many supporters of the
German club, the mere fact of being able to participate in the UEFA's flagship
club competition was probably more important than the result of the game
itself. This is because, on the pitch, RB Leipzig secured their place in the
2017/18 UCL group stage already on 6 May 2017 after
an away win against Hertha Berlin.
However, it was not until 16 June 2017 that the UEFA Club Financial Control
Body (CFCB) officially allowed RB Leipzig to participate in the 2017/18 UCL alongside its sister club,
Austrian giants FC Red Bull Salzburg (RB Salzburg).
As is well known, both clubs have (had) ownership links to the beverage company
Red Bull GmbH (Red Bull), and therefore it came as no surprise that the idea
of two commonly owned clubs participating in the same UCL season raised
concerns with respect to the competition's integrity. 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
2024 and 2028 Olympic Games to be held in Paris and
Los Angeles respectively
On 13 September 2017,
the Session of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) held in Lima, Peru, elected Paris and Los Angeles as host cities of the 2024 and
2028 Olympic Games respectively. On this occasion, the IOC President Thomas
Bach said that ''this historic double
allocation is a 'win-win-win' situation for the city of Paris, the city of Los
Angeles and the IOC''. The idea of a tripartite agreement whereby two
editions of the Olympic Games would be awarded at the same time was presented
by a working group of the IOC Vice-Presidents established in March 2017. Both
Paris and Los Angeles have pledged to make the Olympic Games cost-efficient, in
particular through the use of a record-breaking number of existing and
temporary facilities. In addition to economic aspects, it will be worthwhile to
keep an eye on how both cities will address human rights and other similar concerns
that may arise in the run-up to the Olympic Games. More...
Editor’s note: Josep F. Vandellos Alamilla is an
international sports lawyer and academic based in Valencia (Spain) and a member
of the Editorial Board of the publication Football Legal. Since 2017 he is the
Director of the Global Master in Sports
Management and Legal Skills FC Barcelona – ISDE.
I think we would all agree that the reputation of
players’ agents, nowadays called intermediaries, has never been a good one for
plenty of reasons. But the truth is their presence in the football industry is
much needed and probably most of the transfers would never take place if these
outcast members of the self-proclaimed football
family were not there to ensure a fluid and smooth communication between all
For us, sports lawyers, intermediaries are also
important clients as they often need our advice to structure the deals in which
they take part. One of the most recurrent situations faced by intermediaries and
agents operating off-the-radar (i.e. not registered in any football association
member of FIFA) is the risk of entering in a so-called multiparty or dual representation
and the potential risks associated with such a situation.
The representation of the interests of multiple
parties in football intermediation can take place for instance when the agent represents
the selling club, the buying club and/or the player in the same transfer, or when
the agent is remunerated by multiple parties, and in general when the agent incurs
the risk of jeopardizing the trust deposited upon him/her by the principal. The
situations are multiple and can manifest in different manners.
This article will briefly outline the regulatory
framework regarding multiparty representation applicable to registered
intermediaries. It will then focus on provisions of Swiss law and the
identification of the limits of dual representation in the light of the CAS
jurisprudence and some relevant decisions of the Swiss Federal Tribunal.More...
Part Two of this series looked at the
legal challenges FFP has faced in the five years since the controversial ‘break
even’ requirements were incorporated.
Those challenges to FFP’s legality have been ineffective in defeating
the rules altogether; however, there have been iterative changes during FFP’s
lifetime. Those changes are marked by
greater procedural sophistication, and a move towards the liberalisation of
equity input by owners in certain circumstances. In light of recent statements from UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin, it is possible that the financial regulation of European football
will be subject to yet further change. More...
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...