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’s betting fraud detection system: How does the CAS regard this monitoring tool? By Emilio García.

Editor’s note: Emilio García (emilio.garcia@uefa.ch)  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)[1], in which he acted as main counsel for UEFA. 


Sport and 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”.[2] It has been said that there has always been match-fixing in sport.[3] 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,[4] 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.[5]

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 every year.[6] Match-fixing does not just affect football either;[7] it is also affecting other sports, most notably tennis.[8] More...


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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

Book Review: Reforming FIFA, or Not

Editor’s note: This short book review will be published in a different format in the International Sports Law Journal, due to its timeliness we decided to reproduce it here. 

Reforming FIFA, or Not

 Antoine Duval

Book Review: Mark Pieth (ed.), Reforming FIFA, Dike Verlag, St. Gallen, 2014, 28.00 CHF, p.178

 


This book looks back at the work of the Independence Governance Committee (IGC). This Committee, constituted in 2011, had as primary objective to drive a reform process of FIFA initiated by its President Sepp Blatter. After ordering from the Swiss anti-corruption expert Mark Pieth, a report on the state of FIFA’s governance, FIFA decided to mandate him with the leadership of a consulting body composed of a mix of independent experts and football insiders, which would be accompanying and supervising the internal reform process of FIFA. The IGC was officially dissolved at the end of 2013, after completing its mandate. The book is composed of eight chapters, written by former members of the IGC, including former chairman Mark Pieth. In addition to the chapters, it includes the different reports (available here, here and here) submitted by the IGC to FIFA across the years. In the words of Pieth, this account is “fascinating because it gives a hands-on, realistic perspective of the concrete efforts, the achievements and the remaining challenges in the struggle for the reform of this organization [FIFA], avoiding the usual glorification or vilification.”[1] This review will first summarize the core of the account of the FIFA reform process provided by the book, before critically engaging with the outcome of the process and outlining the deficiencies that culminated on 29 May 2015 with the re-election of Sepp Blatter as FIFA president.More...



The Spanish TV Rights Distribution System after the Royal Decree: An Introduction. By Luis Torres

On the first of May 2015, the Spanish Government finally signed the Royal Decree allowing the joint selling of the media rights of the Spanish top two football leagues. The Minister for Sport stated that the Decree will allow clubs to “pay their debts with the social security and the tax authorities and will enable the Spanish teams to compete with the biggest European Leagues in terms of revenues from the sale of media rights”.[1]Although the signing of the Royal Decree was supposed to close a very long debate and discussion between the relevant stakeholders, its aftermath shows that the Telenovela is not entirely over. 

This blog post will first provide the background story to the selling of media rights in Spain. It will, thereafter, analyse the main points of the Royal Decree and outline how the system will work in practice. Finally, the blog will shortly address the current frictions between the Spanish League (LFP) and the Spanish football federation (RFEF).More...

Sport and EU Competition Law: New developments and unfinished business. By Ben Van Rompuy

Editor's note: Ben Van Rompuy, Head of the ASSER International Sports Law Centre, was recently interviewed by LexisNexis UK for their in-house adviser service. With kind permission from LexisNexis we reproduce the interview on our blog in its entirety. 

How does competition law affect the sports sector?  

The application of EU competition law to the sports sector is a fairly recent and still unfolding development. It was only in the mid-1990s, due to the growing commercialization of professional sport, that there emerged a need to address competition issues in relation to, for instance, ticketing arrangements or the sale of media rights.  More...



Is FIFA fixing the prices of intermediaries? An EU competition law analysis - By Georgi Antonov (ASSER Institute)

Introduction

On 1 April 2015, the new FIFA Regulations on Working with Intermediaries (hereinafter referred as the Regulations) came into force. These Regulations introduced a number of changes as regards the division of competences between FIFA and its members, the national associations. A particularly interesting issue from an EU competition law perspective is the amended Article 7 of the Regulations. Under paragraph 3, which regulates the rules on payments to intermediaries (also previously referred to as ‘agents’), it is recommended that the total amount of remuneration per transaction due to intermediaries either being engaged to act on a player’s or club’s behalf should not exceed 3% of the player’s basic gross income for the entire duration of the relevant employment contract. In the case of transactions due to intermediaries who have been engaged to act on a club’s behalf in order to conclude a transfer agreement, the total amount of remuneration is recommended to not exceed 3% of the eventual transfer fee paid in relation to the relevant transfer of the player.More...

The Impact of the new FIFA Regulations for Intermediaries: A comparative analysis of Brazil, Spain and England. By Luis Torres

INTRODUCTION

Almost a year after their announcement, the new FIFA Regulations on working with Intermediaries (“FIFA Regulations”) came into force on 1 April 2015. Their purpose is to create a more simple and transparent system of regulation of football agents. It should be noted, however, that the new FIFA rules enable every national football association to regulate their own system on players’ intermediaries, provided they respect the compulsory minimum requirements adopted. In an industry that is already cutthroat, it thus remains to be seen whether FIFA’s “deregulation” indeed creates transparency, or whether it is a Pandora’s Box to future regulatory confusion.

This blog post will provide an overview of the new FIFA Regulations on working with intermediaries and especially its minimum requirements. Provided that national associations are encouraged to “draw up regulations that shall incorporate the principles established in these provisions”[1], three different national regulations have been taken as case-studies: the English FA Regulations, the Spanish RFEF Regulations and the Brazilian CBF Regulations. After mapping their main points of convergence and principal differences, the issues that could arise from these regulatory differences shall be analyzed.  More...

Blog Symposium: Why FIFA's TPO ban is justified. By Prof. Dr. Christian Duve

Introduction: FIFA’s TPO ban and its compatibility with EU competition law.
Day 1: FIFA must regulate TPO, not ban it.
Day 2: 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...

International and European Sports Law – Monthly Report – November and December 2016. By Saverio Spera.

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. 


The Headlines

The Russian State Doping Scandal and the crisis of the World Anti-Doping System

Russian 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 the second report 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...


FIFA’s provision on the protection of minors - Part 3: The compatibility of Article 19 with EU law. By Kester Mekenkamp.

Editor’s note: Kester Mekenkamp is an LL.M. student in European Law at Leiden University and an intern at the ASSER International Sports Law Centre. This blog is, to a great extent, an excerpt of his forthcoming thesis, which he shall submit in order to complete his master’s degree.

This final blog aims to provide some broader perspective, by sketching first the grander scheme in which Article 19 RSTP – FIFA's provision on the protection of minors – operates. Thereafter, the focus will shift towards testing Article 19 RSTP, thereby keeping in mind the previous blogs (Part 1: The Early Years and Part 2: The 2009 reform and its aftermath), against EU free movement law.  


Putting Article 19 RSTP into perspective: The bigger picture

After having investigated the nuts and bolts of FIFA’s provision on the protection of minors in the first two parts of this blog, it might be useful to address its bigger picture.

Article 19 RSTP and its accompanying provisions regulate only a small share of the targeted activity. There is, unfortunately, also an illegal world. Circumvention of the prohibition is allegedly commonplace.[1] Visas and passports can be falsified.[2] Work permits can be obtained on the basis of jobs arranged by clubs.[3] More...


FIFA’s provision on the protection of minors - Part 2: The 2009 reform and its aftermath. By Kester Mekenkamp.

Editor’s note: Kester Mekenkamp is an LL.M. student in European Law at Leiden University and an intern at the ASSER International Sports Law Centre. This blog is, to a great extent, an excerpt of his forthcoming thesis, which he shall submit in order to complete his master’s degree.


This is the second part of a three-piece blog on FIFA’s provision on the protection of minors, Article 19 of the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players. The contribution in its entirety aims to provide an encompassing overview of the rule’s lifespan since its inception in 2001. The previous (first) part has shed light on the “birth” and “first years” of the provision, and as such illustrated the relevant developments from 2001 till 2009. This second part covers the rule’s “adolescent years”, which span from 2009 to the present. The major changes put forward in the 2009, 2015 and 2016 versions of the RSTP will be addressed. Thereafter the important CAS decisions concerning Article 19, Muhic, Vada I and II, FC Barcelona, RFEF, and the FIFA decisions relating to Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid, will be scrutinized. The third, and final, part will constitute a substantive assessment of the provision under EU Internal Market law.

Given that the version adopted in 2008 left Article 19 untouched, the 2009 RSTP represented the next significant step in the regulation of the protection of minors. It had become clear that the system as used up to that point was inadequate to achieve its goal,[1] most notably because several national associations still neglected to strictly apply the rules.[2] More...


FIFA’s provision on the protection of minors - Part 1: The Early Years. By Kester Mekenkamp.

Editor’s note: Kester Mekenkamp is an LL.M. student in European Law at Leiden University and an intern at the ASSER International Sports Law Centre. This blog is, to a great extent, an excerpt of his forthcoming master thesis. 


On 24 November 2016, a claim was lodged before a Zurich commercial court against FIFA’s transfer regulations by a 17-year-old African football player.[1] The culprit, according to the allegation: The provision on the protection of minors, Article 19 of the Regulations for the Status and Transfer of Players.[2] The claimant and his parents dispute the validity of this measure, based on the view that it discriminates between football players from the European Union and those from third countries. Besides to Swiss cartel law, the claim is substantiated on EU citizenship rights, free movement and competition law. Evidently, it is difficult to assess the claim’s chance of success based on the sparse information provided in the press.[3] Be that as it may, it does provide for an ideal (and unexpected) opportunity to delve into the fascinating subject of my master thesis on FIFA’s regulatory system aimed at enhancing the protection of young football players and its compatibility with EU law. This three-part blog shall therefore try to provide an encompassing overview of the rule’s lifespan since its inception in 2001. More...


The entitlement to Training Compensation of “previous” clubs under EU Competition Law. By Josep F. Vandellos Alamilla

Editor’s note: Josep F. Vandellos is an international sports lawyer associated to RH&C (Spain). He is also a member of the Editorial Board of the publication Football Legal and a guest lecturer in the ISDE-FC Barcelona Masters’ Degree in Sports Management and Legal Skills.


Article 6 of Annexe IV (Training compensation) of the FIFA-RSTP (Ed. 2016) contains the so-called “Special Provisions for the EU/EEA” applicable to players moving from one association to another inside the territory of the European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area (EEA).
The provisions regarding training compensation result from the understanding reached between FIFA and UEFA with the European Union in March 2001[1], and subsequent modifications introduced in the FIFA-RSTP revised version of 2005 to ensure the compatibility of the transfer system with EU law.[2]
This blog will focus on the exception contained in article 6(3) Annexe IV of the FIFA-RSTP. According to this article, when “the former club” fails to offer a contract to the player, it loses its right to claim training compensation from the players’ new club, unless it can justify that it is entitled to such compensation. Instead, the right of “previous clubs” to training compensation is fully preserved irrespective of their behaviour with the player.[3] From a legal standpoint, such discrimination between the “former club” and the “previous clubs” raises some questions that I will try to address in this paper. More...



The EU State aid and sport saga: The Real Madrid Decision (part 2)

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.[1] 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...

Asser International Sports Law Blog | Dahmane v KRC Genk: A Rough Translation

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

Dahmane v KRC Genk: A Rough Translation

Dahmane v KRC GENK

Court of Labour of Antwerp (Hasselt district) 6 May 2014

Chamber 2

Algemeen rolnummer 2009/AH/199

 

The Facts 

  • Dahmane signed with KRC GENK on 1 July 2007 for four years (till 30 June 2011). Dahmane unilaterally terminated the contract January 2008. 
  • KRC GENK demanded from Dahmane compensation of EUR 878.888,88 (36 months wages) at the labour court of Tongeren. The demand was based on Article 5 § 2 of the Law for Professional Sportsmen (24 February 1978) and the Royal Decree of 13 July 2004 that Determines the Amount of the Compensation based on the Law for Professional Sportsmen. According to the Royal Decree (of 2004) the compensation had to be equal to 36 months of salary in the case of Dahmane. 
  • Dahmane demanded EUR 250.000,00 from KRC GENK compensation calculated in accordance with the Labour Agreements Law (03 July 1978). D. argued that according to article 40 § 1 of this law, the severance pay can only amount to 12 months of salary.  

  • 25 May 2009 - The Labour Court agreed with the demands of KRC GENK, whereas it disagreed with Dahmane’s. Dahmane placed an appeal. 

  • 22 June 2010 – Court of Labour decided that Dahmane had unlawfully unilaterally terminated the labour contract between him and KRC GENK. Dahmane had to reimburse KRC GENK with a compensation equal to 36 months of salary, because Dahmane fell under the Law regarding Labour Agreements of Professional Sportsmen of 24 February 1978. The Court rejected Dahmane’s request for damages.   

  • The Court of Labour turned to the Belgian Constitutional Court with the preliminary question whether the Law for Professional Sportsmen of 24 February 1978 breaches the Articles 10 and 11 of the Belgian Constitution on Equal Treatment, as there was an inconsistency with the Labour Agreements Law of 03 July 1978 under which the severance pay can only amount to 12 months of salary. Secondly, it was questioned whether the rule in question infringed the freedom of employment.  

  • 18 May 2011 – the Belgian Constitutional Court declared itself incompetent to answer the preliminary questions because the question whether a professional sportsmen falls under either the Law for Professional Sportsmen or the Labour Agreements Law solely depended on Royal Decree on Determining the Amount of the Compensation based on the Law for Professional Sportsmen (13 July 2004). According to Belgian law, the legality of the Royal Decree has to be decided by the Court of Labour itself. 

  • Therefore, the judgment of 6 May 2014 was the second time the Court of Labour dealt with the case regarding the unilateral termination of the player’s contract between Dahmane and KRC GENK. This time it had to decide whether the Royal Decree breached the Belgian Constitution.

 

The Case 

  • The demands by Dahmane:

    • That the Court of Labour rejects the Royal Decree on Determining the Amount of the Compensation based on the Law for Professional Sportsmen (13 July 2004) because it breaches the Belgian Constitution (part II, §1).

    • That the Court of Labour asks the CJEU the preliminary question whether the Royal Decree of 2004 breaches Article 45 TFEU since the free movement of professional sportsmen is unreasonably restricted by the Royal Decree (part II, §1).

 

  • KRC GENK arguments:

    • Football has specific characteristics that can be summarized in:

      • Atypical employment market

      • Atypical professional career (part III.b. §5).

    • That the difference between labour agreements of professional sportsmen on the one hand “normal” labour agreements is based on the “specific character of labour agreements of professional sportsmen en the specific character of sport in general”.

      The “specificity of sport” forms a special statute for sport, whereby common law cannot be applied unabridged (part III.b. §6).

    • Referring to European Case Law, and the Commission’s White book on sport, KRC GENK highlighted that to achieve the objectives inherent to sport, which include avoiding competition distortions and the preservation of the stability of participating sport clubs, certain specifics measures can be taken aimed at guarantying  legal certainty of labour relationships in the sport sector (part III.b. §6).

 

  • The Court's holdings

    • Agreed that sport exhibits certain characteristics that can deviate from other labour relationships between employer and employee, but held that since the Royal Decree in question did not mention the specificity of sport, this exception is inapplicable (part III.b. §5).

    • KRC GENK did not take the economic aspect of sport (e.g. the pursuit of economic profits) into account in its arguments, and the importance of fair competition in this regard. These economic objectives are not exclusive to the sport sector but underlie the market economy in general. Therefore, the Court sees no valid reason as to why a separate Royal Decree is necessary to achieve the objectives of the sport sector when similar objectives are pursued by other economic sectors. In other words, no separate laws should be applicable to sport when it pursues economic objectives (part III.b. §6).

    • As regards KRC GENK’s arguments that for football in particular certain legislative deviations preventing richer clubs from buying all the good players from smaller clubs, thereby distorting competition, are justifiable, the Court found them to be incorrect. Even though football’s transfer system causes movement of footballers to differ from the “normal” functioning of the labour market, in this case it is important to draw a distinction between the buying and selling of players between clubs on the one hand, and the unilateral termination of a player’s contract by either club or player on the other. Yet again the Court saw no reason why the specificity of football should enable the adoption of Royal Decrees breaching article 10 and 11 of the Belgian Constitution (part III.b. §6).

    • The Court took into account that the average career of a professional sportsman is relatively short (12 years according to RKC GENK and six to eight years according to Dahmane). A compensation amounting to 36 months of salary would for many professional sportsmen be equal to 1/3 of total career revenues and is therefore not justified in the present case (part III.b. §7).

    • The Royal Decree applies to professional sports in general, not only to football, KRC GENK’s can therefore not rely on the specificity of football to justify its legality (part III.b. §6 and §7).

    • Given that the Royal Decree is declared contrary to the Constitution, the Court sees no reason to make a preliminary reference to the ECJ (part III.b. §12).

 

Conclusion: the Court considered that a Royal Decree imposing a compensation of 36 months of salary on a player breaching his contract is disproportionate. Furthermore, the Court found the Royal Decree unjustifiable under the Constitutional principle of equal treatment and non-discrimination (part III.b. §8).

 

 

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