Asser International Sports Law Blog

Our International Sports Law Diary
The Asser International Sports Law Centre is part of the T.M.C. Asser Instituut

RFC Seraing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport: How FIFA’s TPO ban Survived (Again) EU Law Scrutiny

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 and 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...

The Validity of Unilateral Extension Options in Football – Part 1: A European Legal Mess. By Saverio Spera

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 Centre.

                 

In the 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.[1] 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.[2] After the Bosman case, clubs have increasingly used these clauses in order to prevent players from leaving their clubs for free at the end of their contracts.[3] 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.[4] 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 matter. More...

Call for papers: ISLJ Annual Conference on International Sports Law - 26-27 October 2017

The editorial board of the International Sports Law Journal (ISLJ) is very pleased to invite you to submit abstracts for its first Annual Conference on International Sports Law. The ISLJ, published by Springer in collaboration with ASSER Press, is the leading publication in the field of international sports law. Its readership includes both academics and many practitioners active in the field. On 26-27 October 2017, the International Sports Law Centre of the T.M.C. Asser Instituut and the editorial board of the International Sports Law Journal will host in The Hague the first ever ISLJ Annual Conference on International Sports Law. The conference will feature panels on the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the world anti-doping system, the global governance of sports, the FIFA transfer regulations, comparative sports law, and much more.

More...


International and European Sports Law – Monthly Report – March 2017. By Tomáš Grell

 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.

 More...

The legality of surety undertakings in relation to minor football players: the Lokilo case. By Adriaan Wijckmans

Editor's note: Adriaan Wijckmans is an associate specialized in sports law at the Belgium law firm Altius.

In a recent judgment, the Brussels Court of First Instance confirmed the legality of a so-called surety undertaking, i.e. an agreement in which the parents of a minor playing football guarantee that their child will sign a professional contract with a football club as soon as the child reaches the legal age of majority.

This long-awaited ruling was hailed, on the one hand, by clubs as a much needed and eagerly anticipated confirmation of a long-standing practice in Belgian football[1] and, on the other hand, criticised by FIFPro, the international player’s trade union, in a scathing press release. More...



Kosovo at the Court of Arbitration for Sport – Constructing Statehood Through Sport? By Ryan Gauthier (Thompson Rivers University)

Editor's Note: Ryan is Assistant Professor at Thompson Rivers University, he defended his PhD at Erasmus University Rotterdam in December 2015. His dissertation examined human rights violations caused by international sporting events, and how international sporting organisations may be held accountable for these violations. 


“Serious sport…is war minus the shooting.” – George Orwell

 

In May 2016, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) admitted the Football Federation of Kosovo (Kosovo) as a member. The voting was close, with 28 member federations in favour, 24 opposed, and 2 whose votes were declared invalid. The practical outcome of this decision is that Kosovo would be able participate in the UEFA Euro championship, and that Kosovo teams could qualify for the UEFA Champions’ League or Europa League. More...


International and European Sports Law – Monthly Report – February 2017. By Tomáš Grell

 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. More...

FIFA's Responsibility for Human Rights Abuses in Qatar – Part II: The Zurich Court's Ruling - By Tomáš Grell

Editor’s note: Tomáš Grell comes from Slovakia and is currently an LL.M. student in Public International Law at Leiden University. He contributes also to the work of the ASSER International Sports Law Centre as a part-time intern.

This is a follow-up contribution to my previous blog on FIFA's responsibility for human rights abuses in Qatar published last week. Whereas the previous part has examined the lawsuit filed with the Commercial Court of the Canton of Zurich ('Court') jointly by the Dutch trade union FNV, the Bangladeshi Free Trade Union Congress, the Bangladesh Building and Wood Workers Federation and the Bangladeshi citizen Nadim Shariful Alam ('Plaintiffs') against FIFA, this second part will focus on the Court's ruling dated 3 January 2017 ('Ruling').[1]  More...



FIFA's Responsibility for Human Rights Abuses in Qatar - Part I: The Claims Against FIFA - By Tomáš Grell

Editor’s note: Tomáš Grell comes from Slovakia and is currently an LL.M. student in Public International Law at Leiden University. He contributes also to the work of the ASSER International Sports Law Centre as a part-time intern.

On 2 December 2010, the FIFA Executive Committee elected Qatar as host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup ('World Cup'), thereby triggering a wave of controversies which underlined, for the most part, the country's modest size, lack of football history, local climate, disproportionate costs or corruption that accompanied the selection procedure. Furthermore, opponents of the decision to award the World Cup to the tiny oil-rich Gulf country also emphasized the country's negative human rights record.

More than six years later, on 3 January 2017, the Commercial Court of the Canton of Zurich ('Court') dismissed the lawsuit filed against FIFA[1] jointly by the Dutch trade union FNV, the Bangladeshi Free Trade Union Congress, the Bangladesh Building and Wood Workers Federation and the Bangladeshi citizen Nadim Shariful Alam ('Plaintiffs').[2] The Plaintiffs requested the Court to find FIFA responsible for alleged human rights violations of migrant workers in connection with the World Cup in Qatar. Had the Plaintiffs' claims been upheld by the Court, such decision would have had far-reaching consequences on the fate of thousands of migrants, mostly from India, Nepal and Bangladesh, who are currently working on the construction of sporting facilities and other infrastructure associated with organization of the World Cup. More...

Asser International Sports Law Blog | 20 Years After Bosman - The New Frontiers of EU Law and Sport - Special Issue of the Maastricht Journal of European and Comparative Law

Asser International Sports Law Blog

Our International Sports Law Diary
The Asser International Sports Law Centre is part of the T.M.C. Asser Instituut

20 Years After Bosman - The New Frontiers of EU Law and Sport - Special Issue of the Maastricht Journal of European and Comparative Law

Editor's note: This is a short introduction written for the special Issue of the Maastricht Journal of European and Comparative Law celebrating the 20 years of the Bosman ruling and dedicated to the new frontiers of EU law and Sport (the articles are available here). For those willing to gain a deeper insight into the content of the Issue we organize (in collaboration with Maastricht University and the Maastricht Journal) a launching event with many of the authors in Brussels tomorrow (More info here).



 20 Years After Bosman - The New Frontiers of EU Law and Sport

By Antoine Duval

The Bosman ruling is not just another ruling of the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU), it is by far the most well-known decision of the Court outside of the Euro-bubble.[1] In the UK the phrase ‘a Bosman’ is commonly used to qualify the free move of a football player to a new club at the end of his contract. Beyond its anchoring in the English idiom, Bosman stands out as a shared European reference. However, it is often – misleadingly - credited for all the ills and wrongs of football. In any case, it is part and parcel of the European (even worldwide) public debate on football and its regulation. If a European public sphere is to emerge at some point, the heated public discussion that was triggered in Europe by Bosman is probably an avant-goût of it. Therefore, 20 years after the ruling, the least a European sports lawyer and academic can do, is to acknowledge ones indebtedness and, to some extent, gratitude for this ruling.

One aspect that needs to be emphasized is that Bosman is not an instrument with the paramount objective to deregulate the football market or the world of sport in general. It is not, as many on the side of the Sports Governing Bodies (SGBs), and FIFA and UEFA in particular, have portrayed it, a decision aimed at destroying the transnational legal system (also known as lex sportiva) they had put in place to coordinate the organization and unfolding of transnational sporting competitions. On the contrary, SGBs have the possibility to justify their rules and regulations. As Stephen Weatherill rightly pointed out long ago, the only requirement SGBs have to fulfil to ensure that their regulations comply with EU law is to explain convincingly why they are needed.[2] Thus, a constructive (and positive) perspective on Bosman stresses its constitutional over its deregulatory function. Private regulations adopted by private powers, which are not particularly renowned for the quality of their governance, need to be subject to checks and balances. After Bosman, the EU free movement rights and competition law have impersonated such a check on (or counter-power to) the rules privately adopted and enforced by SGBs. In fact, it is here that the true, long-lasting legacy of Bosman lies.

This issue brings together a mixed line-up of both young and established scholars, sports law experts and EU law specialists, to discuss the legacy of Bosman and the future of the relationship between EU law and sport. Besides the synthetic and comprehensive introductory piece of Stefaan Van Den Bogaert that brings us back to the original crusade of Mr Bosman, all the contributions are geared towards the recent and future legacies of the ruling. A broad range of legal problems raised by the interaction of EU law and sport is touched upon. 

In the first article, Ben Van Rompuy builds on Advocate General Lenz’s conclusions in Bosman, the following practice adopted by the EU Commission as well as on the case law of the CJEU on competition law and sport to argue that competition law can be a powerful tool to impose a legal check on the regulatory practices of SGBs.

In the second piece, Phedon Nicolaides analyses a relatively new front line between EU law and sport: state aid. Although not directly connected to Bosman, state aid cases are taking a prominent place in the practice of the EU Commission in the field of sport. In fact, state aid law has become a useful legal proxy to control the way public authorities decide to support economically sporting organizations and their events.

The third piece by the editor of this issue is dedicated to the interaction between the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and EU law. Indeed, the emergence of the CAS is probably the most important institutional legacy of Bosman, and EU law now has a role to play in exercising a form of ‘Solange’ control over CAS’s judicial activity.

In the fourth article, which follows most clearly into the footpath of Bosman, Richard Parrish discusses the compatibility of the FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfers of Players (RSTP) with EU law. He suggests that the RSTP as it stands can be deemed contrary to EU law.

The fifth article of the issue by Jacob Kornbeck, a former member of the sports unit of the European Commission, analyses the role of the Commission in the drafting process of the new World Anti-Doping Code recently adopted by the World Anti-Doping Agency. He highlights that the ethos of Bosman spread to other spheres of action of the EU in sport and shows concretely in what way it influenced the position of the EU in the negotiations over the new Code that entered into force in January 2015. Finally, Anna Sabrina Wollmann, Olivier Vonk and Gerard-René de Groot look at the growing problem of nationality requirements in sports. If Bosman stands more particularly for an Europeanization of football, globalization and the ease of cross-border movement for professional sportspeople have heightened the question of the sporting nationality of athletes worldwide. This contribution critically analyses the many calls for a separate sporting nationality and proposes an alternative path.


[1] Case C-415/93 Union royale belge des sociétés de football association ASBL v. Jean-Marc Bosman, Royal club liégeois SA v. Jean-Marc Bosman and others and Union des associations européennes de football (UEFA) v. Jean-Marc Bosman, EU:C:1995:463.

[2] ‘The ECJ has collapsed the idea that there are purely sporting practices unaffected by EC law despite their economic effect, but it has not refused to accept that sport is special. Its message to governing bodies – explain how!’, S. Weatherill, European Sports Law (T.M.C. Asser Press, 2007), p. 353.


Comments are closed