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

UEFA may have won a battle, but it has not won the legal war over FFP

Yesterday, the press revealed that the European Commission decided to reject the complaint filed by Jean-Louis Dupont, the former lawyer of Bosman, on behalf of a player agent Striani, against the UEFA Financial Fair Play (FFP) Regulations. The rejection as such is not a surprise. The Commission had repeatedly expressed support of the principles underlying the UEFA FFP. While these statements were drafted vaguely and with enough heavy caveats to protect the Commission from prejudicing a proper legal assessment, the withdrawal of its support would have been politically embarrassing.

Contrary to what is now widely assumed, this decision does not entail that UEFA FFP regulations are compatible with EU Competition Law. UEFA is clearly the big victor, but the legal reality is more complicated as it looks. More...


The Nine FFP Settlement Agreements: UEFA did not go the full nine yards

The UEFA Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations have been implemented by UEFA since the season 2011/12 with the aim of encouraging responsible spending by clubs for the long-term benefit of football. However, the enforcement of the break-even requirement as defined in Articles 62 and 63 of the Regulations (arguably the most important rules of FFP) has only started this year. Furthermore, UEFA introduced recently amendments to the Procedural rules governing the Club Financial Control Body (CFCB) allowing settlement agreements to be made between the clubs and the CFCB.  

On Friday 16 May, UEFA finally published the nine separate settlement agreements between the respective clubs and the CFCB regarding the non-compliance with the Financial Fair Play (FFP) break-even requirements. More...

FFP the Day After : Five (more or less realistic) Scenarios

Yesterday, UEFA published the very much-expected settlements implementing its Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations. Today, we address tomorrow’s challenges for FFP, we offer five, more or less realistic, scenarios sketching the (legal) future of the FFP regulations. More...

Dahmane v KRC Genk: Bosman 2.0 or Storm in a Teacup?

Mohamed Dahmane is a professional football player of French-Algerian origin, who has played for a variety of European clubs, including French club US Mauberge, Belgian club RAEC Mons and Turkish club Bucaspor. However, he will mostly be remembered as the player whose legal dispute with his former club (Belgian club KRC Genk) revived the debate on football players’ labour rights.  More...

Get Up, Stand Up at the Olympics. A review of the IOC's policy towards political statements by Athletes. By Frédérique Faut

The Olympic Games are a universal moment of celebration of sporting excellence. But, attention is also quickly drawn to their dark side, such as environmental issues, human rights breaches and poor living conditions of people living near the Olympic sites. In comparison, however, little commentary space is devoted to the views of athletes, the people making the Olympics. This article tries to remediate this, by focussing on Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter which prevents athletes from freely expressing their (political) thoughts.  More...

Final Report on the FIFA Governance Reform Project: The Past and Future of FIFA’s Good Governance Gap

Qatar’s successful bid to host the 2022 World Cup left many people thunderstruck: How can a country with a population of 2 million people and with absolutely no football tradition host the biggest football event in the world? Furthermore, how on earth can players and fans alike survive when the temperature is expected to exceed 50 °C during the month (June) the tournament is supposed to take place?

Other people were less surprised when FIFA’s President, Sepp Blatter, pulled the piece of paper with the word “Qatar” out of the envelope on 2 December 2010. This was just the latest move by a sporting body that was reinforcing a reputation of being over-conservative, corrupt, prone to conflict-of-interest and convinced of being above any Law, be it national or international.More...

Doping Paradize – How Jamaica became the Wild West of Doping

Since the landing on the sporting earth of the Übermensch, aka Usain Bolt, Jamaica has been at the centre of doping-related suspicions. Recently, it has been fueling those suspicions with its home-made scandal around the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO). The former executive of JADCO, Renee Anne Shirley, heavily criticized its functioning in August 2013, and Jamaica has been since then in the eye of the doping cyclone. More...

Cocaine, Doping and the Court of Arbitration for sport - “I don’t like the drugs, but the drugs like me”. By Antoine Duval

Beginning of April 2014, the Colombian Olympic Swimmer Omar Pinzón was cleared by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) of an adverse finding of Cocaine detected in a urine sample in 2013. He got lucky. Indeed, in his case the incredible mismanagement and dilettante habits of Bogot��’s anti-doping laboratory saved him from a dire fate: the two-year ban many other athletes have had the bad luck to experience. More...

The French “betting right”: a legislative Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. By Ben Van Rompuy

The European Commission has published the “Study on Sports Organisers’ Rights in the EU”, which was carried out by the ASSER International Sports Law Centre (T.M.C. Asser Institute) and the Institute for Information Law (University of Amsterdam). 

The study critically examines the legal protection of rights to sports events (sports organisers’ rights) and various issues regarding their commercial exploitation in the field of media and sports betting, both from a national and EU law perspective.  

In a number of posts, we will highlight some of the key findings of the study. 


“It was Hyde, after all, and Hyde alone, that was guilty.” 


In recent years, numerous national and European sports organisers have called for the adoption of a specific right to consent to the organisation of bets (“right to consent to bets”), by virtue of which no betting operator could offer bets on a sports event without first entering into a contractual agreement with the organiser. More...



Five Years UEFA Club Licensing Benchmarking Report – A Report on the Reports. By Frédérique Faut, Giandonato Marino and Oskar van Maren

Last week, UEFA, presented its annual Club Licensing Benchmark Report, which analyses socio-economic trends in European club football. The report is relevant in regard to the FFP rules, as it has been hailed by UEFA as a vindication of the early (positive) impact of FFP. This blog post is a report on the report. We go back in time, analysing the last 5 UEFA Benchmarking Reports, to provide a dynamic account of the reports findings. Indeed, the 2012 Benchmarking Report, can be better grasped in this context and longer-lasting trends be identified.More...

Asser International Sports Law Blog | Get Up, Stand Up at the Olympics. A review of the IOC's policy towards political statements by Athletes. By Frédérique Faut

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

Get Up, Stand Up at the Olympics. A review of the IOC's policy towards political statements by Athletes. By Frédérique Faut

The Olympic Games are a universal moment of celebration of sporting excellence. But, attention is also quickly drawn to their dark side, such as environmental issues, human rights breaches and poor living conditions of people living near the Olympic sites. In comparison, however, little commentary space is devoted to the views of athletes, the people making the Olympics. This article tries to remediate this, by focussing on Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter which prevents athletes from freely expressing their (political) thoughts.  

Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter on advertising, demonstrations and propaganda states in paragraph 3 that: ‘No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas’. This rule is supplemented by Bye-law to Rule 50 paragraph 1, which foresees that: ‘No form of publicity or propaganda, commercial or otherwise, may appear on persons, on sportswear, accessories or, more generally, on any article of clothing or equipment whatsoever worn or used by the athletes or other participants in the Olympic Games, except for the identification (…) of the manufacturer of the article or equipment concerned, provided that such identification shall not be marked conspicuously for advertising purposes. Any violation of the provisions of the present clause may result in disqualification or withdrawal of the accreditation of the person concerned. The decisions of the IOC Executive Board regarding this matter shall be final’.[1] 

According to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which is responsible for the enforcement of the Olympic Charter, this rule warrants the spirit of the Olympic Games – i.e. promoting unity in diversity by bringing together a diverse range of competitors and spectators from all over the world –, the protection of the athletes and their ability to compete free from external distractions.[2]  

Although the underlying reasoning appears to be a very noble pursuit, questions might arise as to whether these goals can be reached when it is not clear, at least for an outsider and perhaps even for athletes, which situations and behaviours fall under the scope of political statement or propaganda and which not. In what way does the statement made by American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos who, during the Olympic Summer Games of 1968 in Mexico City, went on the medal stand without shoes and with beads while hanging their heads and raising their fists when the national anthem set in for instance differ from the rainbow glove worn by Dutch snowboarder Cheryl Maas during the Games in Sochi? Both cases concern athletes making a statement as part of a broader political debate: Smith and Carlos wanted to express their sympathy for the struggle against racial segregation in the US and abroad, whereas Cheryl Maas, one of the openly gay athletes, showed her disregard for Russian’s anti-gay law, a controversial issue at the Sochi Olympic Games. Surprisingly, both incidents were dealt with differently by the IOC: where Smith and Carlos were thrown off the team and sent home, the IOC allowed Cheryl Maas to make her point without being penalised, as was illustrated by the fact that she was able to compete in another event later that week. 

The IOC, in general, does not elaborate further as to the reasoning used when ruling on such cases and confines itself by stating that each case is dealt with individually depending on the specific facts.[3]  Surely, several reasons can be found why both cases are, and perhaps even have to be, treated differently – both incidents took place in different times; Tommie Smith and John Carlos were staying on the medal stand when they made their statement, whereas Cheryl Maas made hers in the qualifying rounds in front of a single camera; Tommie Smith and John Carlos criticised their own country (USA) at the Olympic Games held in another country (Mexico), whereas Cheryl Maas criticised the country organising the Games (Russia); Tommie Smith and John Carlos didn’t feel sorry for the statement made, whereas Cheryl Maas stated afterwards that she didn’t have the intention to make a statement. However, one may question whether such a policy based on a case-by-case approach ensures unity and legal certainty. In the current state of affairs, it is not possible to provide general legal guidance on how a case will be tackled by the IOC. The Olympic Games should be based on transparent and equal rules for everybody, a fundamental requirement of both sport and the law. Hence, it is high-time for the IOC to provide detailed rules and guidance on the policy applying to political statements made by athletes.



[1] Olympic Charter, in force as from 9 September 2013, accessible via http://www.olympic.org/documents/ 

  olympic_charter_en.pdf

[2] http://isuprod.blob.core.windows.net/media/128853/ioc-guidellines-rule-503.pdf

[3] Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter: what you need to know as an athlete, accessible via http://assets.olympic.org/ 

   fortherecord/i8/info.html

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