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

Blog Symposium: The “Athlete Patient” and the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code: Competing Under Medical Treatment. By Marjolaine Viret and Emily Wisnosky

Introduction: The new WADA Code 2015
Day 1: The impact of the revised World Anti-Doping Code on the work of National Anti-Doping Agencies
Day 3: Proof of intent (or lack thereof) under the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code
Day 4: Ensuring proportionate sanctions under the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code

Editor's Note
Marjolaine Viret: An attorney-at-law at the Geneva bar, specialising in sports and health law. Her doctoral work in anti-doping was awarded a summa cum laude by the University of Fribourg in early 2015. She gained significant experience in sports arbitration as a senior associate in one of Switzerland’s leading law firms, advising clients, including major sports federations, on all aspects of anti-doping. She also holds positions within committees in sports organisations and has been involved in a variety of roles in the implementation of the 2015 WADC. Her book “Evidence in Anti-Doping at the Intersection of Science & Law” is scheduled for publication in 2015.

Emily Wisnosky: An attorney-at-law admitted to the California bar, she currently participates in the WADC 2015 Commentary research project as a doctoral researcher. She also holds an LLM from the University of Geneva in International Dispute Settlement, with a focus on sports arbitration. Before studying law, she worked as a civil engineer. More...





Blog Symposium: The impact of the revised World Anti-Doping Code on the work of National Anti-Doping Agencies. By Herman Ram

Introduction: The new WADA Code 2015
Day 2: The “Athlete Patient” and the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code: Competing Under Medical Treatment
Day 3: Proof of intent (or lack thereof) under the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code
Day 4: Ensuring proportionate sanctions under the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code

Editor's note
Herman Ram is the Chief Executive Officer of the Anti-Doping Authority the Netherlands, which is the National Anti-Doping Organization of the country. He has held this position since 2006. After working twelve years as a librarian, Herman Ram started his career in sport management in 1992, when he became Secretary general of the Royal Netherlands Chess Federation. In 1994, he moved on to the same position at the Netherlands Badminton Federation. He was founder and first secretary of the Foundation for the Promotion of Elite Badminton that was instrumental in the advancement of Dutch badminton. In 2000 he was appointed Secretary general of the Netherlands Ski Federation, where he focused, among other things, on the organization of large snowsports events in the Netherlands. Since his appointment as CEO of the Anti-Doping Authority, he has developed a special interest in legal, ethical and managerial aspects of anti-doping policies, on which he has delivered numerous presentations and lectures. On top of that, he acts as Spokesperson for the Doping Authority. Herman Ram holds two Master’s degrees, in Law and in Sport Management. More...




Blog Symposium: The new WADA Code 2015 - Introduction

Day 1: The impact of the revised World Anti-Doping Code on the work of National Anti-Doping Agencies
Day 2: The “Athlete Patient” and the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code: Competing Under Medical Treatment
Day 3: Proof of intent (or lack thereof) under the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code
Day 4: Ensuring proportionate sanctions under the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code

On 1 January, a new version of the World Anti-Doping Code (WADC or Code) entered into force. This blog symposium aims at taking stock of this development and at offering a preliminary analysis of the key legal changes introduced. The present blog will put the WADC into a more general historical and political context. It aims to briefly retrace the emergence of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and its Code. It will also reconstruct the legislative process that led to the adoption of the WADC 2015 and introduce the various contributions to the blog symposium.More...






To pay or not to pay? That is the question. The case of O’Bannon v. NCAA and the struggle of student athletes in the US. By Zlatka Koleva

Editor's note
Zlatka Koleva is a graduate from the Erasmus University Rotterdam and is currently an Intern at the ASSER International Sports Law Centre.

The decision on appeal in the case of O’Bannon v. NCAA seems, at first sight, to deliver answers right on time regarding the unpaid use of names, images and likenesses (NILs) of amateur college athletes, which has been an ongoing debate in the US after last year’s district court decision that amateur players in the college games deserve to receive compensation for their NILs.[1] The ongoing struggle for compensation in exchange for NILs used in TV broadcasts and video games in the US has reached a turning point and many have waited impatiently for the final say of the Court of Appeal for the 9th circuit. The court’s ruling on appeal for the 9th circuit, however, raises more legitimate concerns for amateur sports in general than it offers consolation to unprofessional college sportsmen. While the appellate court agreed with the district court that NCAA should provide scholarships amounting to the full cost of college attendance to student athletes, the former rejected deferred payment to students of up to 5,000 dollars for NILs rights. The conclusions reached in the case relate to the central antitrust concerns raised by NCAA, namely the preservation of consumer demand for amateur sports and how these interests can be best protected under antitrust law. More...



The European Commission’s ISU antitrust investigation explained. By Ben Van Rompuy

In June 2014, two prominent Dutch speed skaters, Mark Tuitert (Olympic Champion 1500m) and Niels Kerstholt (World Champion short track), filed a competition law complaint against the International Skating Union (ISU) with the European Commission.


ChanceToCompeteTwitter.png (50.4KB)


Today, the European Commission announced that it has opened a formal antitrust investigation into International Skating Union (ISU) rules that permanently ban skaters from competitions such as the Winter Olympics and the ISU World and European Championships if they take part in events not organised or promoted by the ISU. The Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager, stated that the Commission "will investigate if such rules are being abused to enforce a monopoly over the organisation of sporting events or otherwise restrict competition. Athletes can only compete at the highest level for a limited number of years, so there must be good reasons for preventing them to take part in events."

Since the case originates from legal advice provided by the ASSER International Sports Law Centre, we thought it would be helpful to provide some clarifications on the background of the case and the main legal issues at stake. More...





Interview with Wil van Megen (Legal Director of FIFPro) on FIFPro’s EU Competition Law complaint against the FIFA Transfer System

Editor’s note
Wil is working as a lawyer since 1980. He started his legal career at Rechtshulp Rotterdam. Later on he worked for the Dutch national trade union FNV and law firm Varrolaan Advocaten. Currently he is participating in the Labour Law Section of lawfirm MHZ-advocaten in Schiedam in the Netherlands. He is also a member of a joint committee advising the government in labour issues.

Since 1991 he is dealing with the labour issues of the trade union for professional football players VVCS and cyclists’ union VVBW. Since 2002, he works for FIFPro, the worldwide union for professional football players based in Hoofddorp in the Netherlands. He is involved in many international football cases and provides legal support for FIFPro members all over the world. Wil was also involved in the FIFPro Black Book campaign on match fixing and corruption in Eastern Europe. More...


The Scala reform proposals for FIFA: Old wine in new bottles?

Rien ne va plus at FIFA. The news that FIFA’s Secretary General Jérôme Valcke was put on leave and released from his duties has been quickly overtaken by the opening of a criminal investigation targeting both Blatter and Platini.

With FIFA hopping from one scandal to the next, one tends to disregard the fact that it has been attempting (or rather pretending) to improve the governance of the organisation for some years now. In previous blogs (here and here), we discussed the so-called ‘FIFA Governance Reform Project’, a project carried out by the Independent Governance Committee (IGC) under the leadership of Prof. Dr. Mark Pieth of the Basel Institute on Governance. Their third and final report, published on 22 April 2014, listed a set of achievements made by FIFA in the area of good governance since 2011, such as establishing an Audit and Compliance Committee (A&C). However, the report also indicated the reform proposals that FIFA had not met. These proposals included the introduction of term limits for specific FIFA officials (e.g. the President) as well as introducing an integrity review procedure for all the members of the Executive Committee (ExCo) and the Standing Committees. More...

Why the CAS #LetDuteeRun: the Proportionality of the Regulation of Hyperandrogenism in Athletics by Piotr Drabik

Editor's note
Piotr is an intern at the ASSER International Sports Law Centre.

Introduction

On 24 July the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) issued its decision in the proceedings brought by the Indian athlete Ms. Dutee Chand against the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) and the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) in which she challenged the validity of the IAAF Regulations Governing Eligibility of Female with Hyperandrogenism to Compete in Women’s Competition (Regulations). The Regulations were established in 2011 as a response to the controversies surrounding South African athlete Caster Semenya (see e.g. here, here, and here), and for the purpose of safeguarding fairness in sport by prohibiting women with hyperandrogenism, i.e. those with excessive levels of endogenous (naturally occurring) testosterone, from competing in women athletics competitions. Owing to the subject-matter that the Regulations cover, the case before the CAS generated complex legal, scientific and ethical questions. The following case note thus aims at explaining how the Panel addressed the issues raised by the Indian athlete. It follows a previous blog we published in December 2014 that analysed the arguments raised in favour of Ms. Chand. More...




Not comfortably satisfied? The upcoming Court of Arbitration for Sport case of the thirty-four current and former players of the Essendon football club. By James Kitching

Editor's note: James Kitching is Legal Counsel and Secretary to the AFC judicial bodies at the Asian Football Confederation. James is an Australian and Italian citizen and one of the few Australians working in international sports law. He is admitted as barrister and solicitor in the Supreme Court of South Australia. James graduated from the International Master in the Management, Law, and Humanities of Sport offered by the Centre International d'Etude du Sport in July 2012.


Introduction

On 12 May 2015, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) announced that the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) had filed an appeal against the decision issued by the Australian Football League (AFL) Anti-Doping Tribunal (AADT) that thirty-four current and former players of Essendon Football Club (Essendon) had not committed any anti-doping rule violation (ADRV) identified within the AFL Anti-Doping Code (AADC). The players had each been charged with using Thymosin-Beta 4 (TB4) during the 2012 AFL season.

On 1 June 2015, WADA announced that it had filed an appeal against the decision by the AADT to clear Mr. Stephen Dank (Dank), a sports scientist employed at Essendon during the relevant period, of twenty-one charges of violating the AADC. Dank was, however, found guilty of ten charges and banned for life.

This blog will solely discuss the likelihood of the first AADT decision (the Decision) being overturned by the CAS. It will briefly summarise the facts, discuss the applicable rules and decision of the AADT, review similar cases involving ‘non-analytical positive’ ADRVs relating to the use of a prohibited substance or a prohibited method, and examine whether the Code of Sports-related Arbitration (CAS Code) is able to assist WADA in its appeal.

This blog will not examine the soap opera that was the two years leading-up to the Decision. Readers seeking a comprehensive factual background should view the excellent up-to-date timeline published by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. More...


EU Law is not enough: Why FIFA's TPO ban survived its first challenge before the Brussels Court


Star Lawyer Jean-Louis Dupont is almost a monopolist as far as high profile EU law and football cases are concerned. This year, besides a mediatised challenge against UEFA’s FFP regulations, he is going after FIFA’s TPO ban on behalf of the Spanish and Portuguese leagues in front of the EU Commission, but also before the Brussels First Instance Court defending the infamous Malta-based football investment firm Doyen Sport. FIFA and UEFA’s archenemy, probably electrified by the 20 years of the Bosman ruling, is emphatically trying to reproduce his world-famous legal prowess. Despite a first spark at a success in the FFP case against UEFA with the Court of first instance of Brussels sending a preliminary reference to the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU), this has proven to be a mirage as the CJEU refused, as foretold, to answer the questions of the Brussels Court, while the provisory measures ordered by the judge have been suspended due to UEFA’s appeal. But, there was still hope, the case against FIFA’s TPO ban, also involving UEFA and the Belgium federation, was pending in front of the same Brussels Court of First Instance, which had proven to be very willing to block UEFA’s FFP regulations. Yet, the final ruling is another disappointment for Dupont (and good news for FIFA). The Court refused to give way to Doyen’s demands for provisional measures and a preliminary reference. The likelihood of a timely Bosman bis repetita is fading away. Fortunately, we got hold of the judgment of the Brussels court and it is certainly of interest to all those eagerly awaiting to know whether FIFA’s TPO ban will be deemed compatible or not with EU law. More...


Asser International Sports Law Blog | Case note: TAS 2016/A/4474 Michel Platini c. Fédération Internationale de Football Association. By Marine Montejo

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

Case note: TAS 2016/A/4474 Michel Platini c. Fédération Internationale de Football Association. By Marine Montejo

Editor's note: Marine Montejo is a graduate from the College of Europe in Bruges and is currently an intern at the ASSER International Sports Law Centre.

On 3 June 2015, Sepp Blatter resigned as President of FIFA after another corruption scandal inside the world’s football governing body was brought to light by the American authorities supported by the Swiss prosecutor office. Two months after Michel Platini announced he would be a candidate for the next FIFA Presidential election, on 25 September 2015, the Swiss prosecutor opened an investigation against S. Blatter on an alleged disloyal payment he authorised to M. Platini. On 8 October 2015, the FIFA Ethics Committee announced both of them were provisionally suspended upon their hearings, a suspension that was later confirmed by CAS. In the end, M. Platini was sanctioned with an eight years ban from all football activities, later reduced to a six years ban by FIFA Appeal Commission on 24 February 2016. In the meantime, he withdrew his candidacy to become the next FIFA President. On 9 May 2016, after M. Platini appealed this sanction, the CAS confirmed the suspension but reduced it to four years, leading to his resignation from the UEFA presidency and the announcement of his intention to challenge the CAS award in front of the Swiss Federal Tribunal.

On 19 September, the CAS finally published the full text of the award in the dispute between M. Platini and FIFA. The award is in French as M. Platini requested that the procedure be conducted in that language. You will find below a summary of the ‘highlights’ of the 63-page decision. 


Facts of the case

The detailed analysis of the facts of the case by CAS is well worth reading as it contains a precise description of the developments giving rise to the dispute. It also describes the alleged work done by M. Platini for FIFA and the related payments received from the organisation that are also investigated by Swiss authorities.

The first meeting between M. Platini (the France 1998 World Cup organising committee co-President at that time) and S. Blatter (the contemporaneous FIFA Secretary General) was held in January 1998 where the latter asked M. Platini to be the next candidate for FIFA’s Presidential election. M. Platini refused the offer. They both met a few months later (no precise date was given in the award – simply “spring 1998”) and agreed that M. Platini would support S. Blatter’s candidature for the FIFA Presidency, forming a “ticket”. In the case of a successful outcome, M. Platini would become either one of FIFA’s directors or sports advisers. During this meeting, they allegedly also discussed the remuneration for M. Platini’s future work for FIFA. The former UEFA President said that he proposed 1 million per year, leaving the choice of currency to S. Blatter. During the CAS procedure, M. Platini and S. Blatter stated they had agreed (“oral agreement”) on remuneration of CHF 1 million for M. Platini’s sports or technical advisory services, which is roughly €900,000. Jacques Lambert (the former France 1998 World Cup organising committee chief executive) said before the CAS Panel that M. Platini had told him about that oral agreement, but also acknowledged that no other person was physically present during the meeting to confirm it. 

In the award, it is noted that M. Platini participated in the campaign in an informal manner and that M. Blatter, shortly after his election, publicly announced that he would be his “Foreign Affairs Minister”. As such, the exact position of M. Platini remained uncertain at that time. With regard to these findings, the award relied on former UEFA Secretary General Gerhard Aigner’s testimony during FIFA’s internal procedure. An internal note written by Mr. Aigner, dated 19 September 1998, questioned M. Platini’s future role at FIFA and the rumours circulating about his desire to be based in Paris; it also speculated that this seemed inappropriate for the position of FIFA sports director. He likewise questioned the CHF 1 million salary. This note was given to the members of the UEFA Executive Committee Board (meeting on 12 November 1998) but no official document was received by UEFA confirming M. Platini’s salary. More importantly, the note was added to a set of documents collected for a meeting between the UEFA President (and Secretary General) and individuals from FIFA’s Executive Committee. This meeting aimed to prepare for FIFA’s Executive Committee meeting (3 and 4 December 1998), but there is no certainty that the document was actually discussed during the meeting of 3 December. Amongst these documents, another, dated 29 November 1998 and addressed only to the European members of FIFA Executive Committee, reported once again the rumours surrounding M. Platini’s future job, this time referring to his role as “the head of a development programme” or as a “personal political advisor”. In a nutshell, by the end of 1998 there was no official announcement by FIFA on M. Platini’s position and remuneration except rumours.

M. Platini’s official functions for FIFA started on 1 January 1999 but, in reality, he had commenced work for FIFA in the second part of 1998. In August 1999, M. Platini asked S. Blatter to formalise their contract (“written contract”). This was signed by M. Platini and S. Blatter (as a representative of FIFA) on 25 August 1999. This contract is the first official document where M. Platini’s role is defined as the FIFA Presidential advisor on international football issues (“la [FIFA] conseiller et l’assister, en particulier son Président, pour toutes les questions relatives au football au niveau international”). A salary of CHF 300,000 is written by hand in the document and, in the annex, daily allowances in and outside Europe are also mentioned. S. Blatter and M. Platini said that they were aware of FIFA’s financial difficulties at that time and had agreed, without formally stating the amounts and conditions for payment, that the remaining money would be paid later. M. Platini worked from his office in Paris with two other persons, and all of their expenses paid by FIFA. With S. Blatter’s authorisation, M. Platini also saw the rights from his so-called benefit plan extended. The plan was set up in 2005 for members of FIFA’s Executive Committee and remained operational for more than eight years after they left. M. Platini’s rights were exceptionally extended to the years he was the FIFA Presidential advisor; thus, it also covered 1998 to 2002 when he resigned and became a full member of FIFA’s Executive Committee.

In 2010, M. Platini sought the payment of the full amount he was due in conformity with the oral agreement. He explained that FIFA was financially stable and, notably, that its executives’ salaries had been raised substantially. An invoice was sent to FIFA that requested payment of the balance for the four years, amounting to CHF 2,000,000. The CAS Panel raised an important query at that point surrounding the amount claimed – namely, for a salary of CHF 1,000,000 per year over a period of 4 years, the Panel suggested that the amount claimed ought to have been CHF 2,800,000. M. Platini waved away the divergence by saying that he thought he received CHF 500,000 p.a. from FIFA and not only CHF 300,000. However, he had previously stated that he mentioned to S. Blatter at the time the written contract was signed that the salary was less than the one they had previously agreed to, so he should have known how much he was paid. S. Blatter explained that he did not check the accuracy of the invoice and authorised the payment. The payment was included in FIFA’s 2010 account which was approved during FIFA’s Finance Commission meeting of 2 March 2011, to which M. Platini attended as the UEFA representative. During the Swiss investigation, M. Angel Villar Llona, UEFA’s Vice-President, stated that M. Julio Grondona, President of the FIFA Finance Commission at the time, told him about the payment owed to M. Platini because the full amount could not be written down for political reasons. The payment was made on 19 November 2012.

The CAS award then discussed the presidential atmosphere around FIFA and the opening of the Swiss investigation as well as the procedure before FIFA against M. Platini. As a reminder, let’s recall that the former UEFA President was first sentenced to an eight year ban by the Adjudicatory Chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee for several breaches of the FIFA Code of Ethics (“CEF”). This sanction was later reduced to a six year suspension by the FIFA Appeal Committee.


Substance of the case

The CAS Panel first rejected the alleged procedural wrongs raised by M. Platini’s defence after the disciplinary proceedings before FIFA. The arbitrators recalled that the Panel shall have the full power to review the facts and the law.[1] As such the appeal cures any procedural breaches that might have occurred earlier. The arbitrators also spent some time on the legal debate around the notion of proof. This discussion concerned whether FIFA needed to prove that M. Platini violated the CEF as the payment he received was without any basis and that M. Platini bears the burden to prove that such grounds existed.

- Concerning the violation of article 20 CEF (“Offering and accepting gifts and other benefits”), the FIFA Appeal Committee decision concluded that M. Platini received a CHF 2,000,000 payment in 2011 that could not be based on a contractual agreement. Consequently, this payment was said to be undue and constituted an infringement of article 20 CEF. The CAS Panel likewise came to the conclusion that there wasn’t sufficient proof to establish the existence of an oral agreement. As a consequence, the amount was paid pursuant to a non-existent legal obligation, which constituted a breach of article 20 CEF. The CAS Panel even went a step further and found that the extension of the benefit plan was also a breach of that same provision.

First, with regard to the oral agreement, the CAS award highlights that there is no direct or contemporaneous proof that such an agreement was made.[2] The only and closest element of proof the CAS Panel could find is the written contract of August 1999, which establishes the CHF 300,000 salary for M. Platini as FIFA advisor. The arbitrators also stated that this contract constitutes unambiguous proof that there was not, unless otherwise proven, another contract that stipulated a CHF 1,000,000 salary.[3] As such, the CAS Panel ruled out M. Lambert’s testimony as it is indirect and cannot constitute proof that such an agreement was legally concluded. Moreover, the Panel noted that he had first mentioned this agreement in 2015. It also did the same with the two notes coming from UEFA and M. Villar Llona’s testimony, finding that they were only proof that negotiations were ongoing at the time for M. Platini to become an advisor at FIFA; they could not constitute an actual official confirmation of the alleged remuneration. Furthermore, the CAS Panel[4] put forward that M. Blatter, during his audition before CAS, said that the oral contract was a “gentlemen’s agreement” and, as such, not legally binding. Additionally, he stated that he was not sure he had the sole competence at the time, as FIFA’s Secretary General, to negotiate such an agreement. The CAS Panel then drew the conclusion that at no point was a clear commitment given by M. Blatter regarding the alleged remuneration. The Panel also considered that the fact that FIFA paid M. Platini is not a proof that the oral agreement existed. It highlights Blatter’s “centralised and old fashioned” [5] management and concluded that the other executives at FIFA did not have any option other than to execute the orders, namely the payment of M. Platini’s bill.

Subsequently, the CAS moved to apply Swiss national law (article 55 of the Swiss Civil Code). M. Platini said that M. Blatter acted on behalf of FIFA. The Panel firmly disagreed with him: firstly, by saying that M. Platini had not acted in good faith as he knew the written contract did not disclose the full amount he supposedly was due after the oral agreement; and, secondly, the Panel discussed the possible abuse of power by M. Blatter as he supposedly gave authorisation for remuneration that was even higher than his own and the Secretary General’s, concluding that he probably diverged from the normal course of business[6] and, as such, could not have represented FIFA’s will. As a consequence, the only valid agreement was the written contract of August 1999. Furthermore, the arbitrators could not find any proof of the alleged deferment of the final amount payable in that oral agreement and held that the only remuneration M. Platini was due was the one in the written contract. The CAS Panel was even more severe with M. Platini, of whom it found was not an “athlete without experience” but an “experienced manager in football” who should have known the importance of such a contract; this tended to demonstrate that there wasn’t any oral agreement.[7] The CAS Panel insisted that M. Platini’s claim that he waited until 2010 to ask for the full payment because of FIFA’s bad financial situation was contradicted by the facts. Moreover, M. Platini’s claims that FIFA’s executives received bonuses without justification meant that he did not act in the interest of FIFA but only in his own.[8] Finally, concerning the fact that M. Platini allegedly miscalculated the rest of his salary (CHF 500,000 per year instead of CHF 700,000) the Panel was, to say the least, not convinced by his explanation and concluded that both incoherencies on the amount and on the date of the invoice contradict M. Platini’s position.

Finally, regarding the extension of the benefit plan, the CAS Panel was straightforward by finding that M. Platini was not entitled to it during his years as FIFA’s Presidential advisor because this plan is only for members of the Executive Committee. This extension only occurred due to S. Blatter’s decision.[9] Even though no payment has been made yet as a result of this plan, the extension was also held to be a breach of article 20 CEF. 

- With regard to the violation of article 19 CEF (“Conflicts of interest”), the FIFA Appeal Committee decision concluded that M. Platini was in a situation of conflict of interest when he signed M. Blatter’s statement of support in May 2011 after he received the contested payment. He also participated in a meeting of FIFA’s Finance Commission without notifying the organisers that he was personally affected by the payment inserted into the agenda of the meeting.

On the topic of M. Blatter’s statement of support, the CAS Panel outlined that the declaration was signed by M. Platini as UEFA President and not as a FIFA official. As a consequence, article 19 CEF cannot apply in that case. However, the CAS Panel was, once again, severe with M. Platini by stating that, even though article 19 CEF cannot apply in these circumstances, there was nonetheless a conflict of interest in this case, albeit to UEFA’s disadvantage in this instance.[10]

To support his participation at FIFA’s Finance Commission in March 2011, M. Platini argued he had to replace the UEFA executive that fell sick (M. Marios Lefkaritis, UEFA treasurer). The CAS Panel concluded that M. Platini was in a situation of conflict of interest when he took part in the meeting that approved the 2010 annual report containing the CHF 2,000,000 payment he was not entitled to received. Even though the payment did not appear individually on the document, M. Platini should have disclosed during the meeting that he was personally affected. Hence, the CAS Panel stated that M. Platini could not act with integrity, independence and determination as a member of FIFA’s Finance Commission, because he had a personal interest in obfuscating that payment and making sure that FIFA’s 2010 account were adopted .[11] 

- With regard to the violation of articles 13 CEF (“General rules of conduct”) and 15 CEF (“Loyalty”), the CAS Panel did not follow the FIFA Appeal Committee decision. The arbitrators used the lex specialis derogat generali principle through which, if a behaviour falls under a general and a specific rule, only the latter rule will apply. Both provisions were applied because the acts in breach of articles 19 and 20 (specific provisions) and were not separate facts falling under articles 13 and 15 (general provisions). As a consequence, the CAS Panel concluded that there were no breaches of articles 13 and 15, but it did not spare M. Platini – it specifically stated that the Panel didn’t condone M. Platini’s behaviour nor were the former UEFA President’s actions ethical or loyal (§328 and §335). 

- Concerning the sanction. The Panel reduced the sanction to a three year suspension for the breach of article 20 CEF because of a number of mitigating circumstances. These include the added value M. Platini has given over the years to football, his cooperation in the procedure before the Panel and the fact that he is at the end of his career. The CAS Panel also took into account the fact that FIFA already knew about the undue payment in 2011 but did not start an investigation until 2015.[12]

By contrast, the CAS Panel found that the high level positions M. Platini occupied in football constituted an aggravating factor for the sanction. Likewise, the fact that he did not express any regret was also counted against him.[13] He was also sanctioned by a one year suspension for the breach of article 19 CEF which brings the total suspended period to four years (as from 8 October 2015) and a CHF 60,000 fine.


Conclusion

The arbitral award is very detailed and the justifications given by M. Platini, S. Blatter and their lawyers were examined at great length by the arbitrators. The description of the facts and the discussion of the grounds of the decision are precise and meticulous. It is striking how M. Platini’s defence appears to be the one of someone who was not very well informed about his own financial affairs. He extensively said that he was not a man of means and his arguments portrayed him as careless, negligent or even indifferent, which does not sit well with a former UEFA President. The arbitrators are not buying any of it and are severe, to say the least, in their appreciation. In particular, regarding the breach of article 20 CEF for which they highlighted that it was the most serious offense of M. Platini. However, the arbitrators, at the sanctioning stage, found mitigating factors to reduce the sanction that are surprising. Finally, after a third examination of its case, M. Platini’s sanction seems to keep on reducing whereas the offenses identified remained more or less the same.




[1] §223. « … la Formation rappelle qu’en vertu de l’article R57 du Code, le TAS jouit d’un plein pouvoir d’examen en fait et en droit… » §224. « Ainsi, la procédure devant le TAS guérit toutes les violations procédurales qui auraient pu être commises par les instances précédentes. »

[2] §234. « …qu’il n’existe aucune preuve directe et contemporaine de la conclusion dudit accord. »

[3] §235. « … Devant cet élément indiscutable, la Formation examinera ci-dessous si des éléments de preuve supplémentaires pourraient venir appuyer les explications de M. Platini et pourraient renverser la preuve résultant du texte univoque de la Convention écrite. »

[4] §253. « … au vu du style de management centralisateur et à l’ancienne de M. Blatter, les autres intervenants au sein de la FIFA n’avaient que peu de marge de manœuvre face à une instruction de ce dernier… ».

[5] §238 and 239

[6] §257. « … un contrat du type de celui de l’Accord oral dépasserait le cadre des affaires que peut conclure un représentant diligent d’une personne morale ».

[7] §274. « … puisqu’au moment des faits… [M. Platini] n’était pas un jeune athlète sans expérience, mais un ancien footballeur de très haut niveau, ancien sélectionneur de l’Equipe de France et ancien co-Président du comité d’organisation de la Coupe du Monde FIFA en France, c’est-à-dire un dirigeant expérimenté dans le domaine du football, qui devait savoir qu’un contrat de l’importance de celui qu’il prétend avoir conclu devait être couché sur papier… Ceci démontre encore l’invraisemblance de l’Accord oral. »

[8] §276. « … En faisant cette déclaration, M. Platini semble sous-entendre que constatant que d’autres dirigeants avaient obtenu des paiements sans justification particulière, il avait lui aussi tenté de le faire. Ce faisant, il ne démontre pas avoir agi dans l’intérêt de la FIFA, dont il était membre du Comité exécutif, mais uniquement dans son intérêt personnel. »

[9] §293. « … Les courriers de M. Valcke et M. Kattner de 2009 font clairement apparaître que l’inclusion des années 1998 à mi-2002 était inhabituelle et résultait de la seule décision de M. Blatter. »

[10]§304. « … le conflit d’intérêt (qui existait bien, de l’avis de la Formation) … ».

[11] §311. « Il est ainsi évident que M. Platini ne pouvait agir avec intégrité, indépendance et détermination en tant que membre de la Commission des finances, puisqu’il avait un intérêt personnel à cacher l’existence du paiement de CHF 2'000 000 dont il avait bénéficié, afin que les comptes 2010 soient adoptés sans que ce paiement soit évoqué. »

[12] §358. « … Enfin, la Formation prend également en compte le fait que la FIFA n’a débuté l’investigation contre M. Platini qu’en 2015, et de surcroît uniquement après que l’enquête du MPC a débuté, alors qu’elle avait connaissance du paiement concerné en 2011 (même si elle ignorait à ce moment-là le véritable motif du paiement). »

[13] §359. « En revanche, la Formation considère comme facteurs aggravants le fait que M. Platini a exercé des fonctions très élevées tant à la FIFA qu’à l’UEFA et qu’il avait donc un devoir accru de respecter les règles internes de ces organisations. De surcroît, il n’a manifesté aucun repentir.

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