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: Third-party entitlement to shares of transfer fees: problems and solutions
Day 3: The Impact of the TPO Ban on South American Football.
Day 4: Third Party Investment from a UK Perspective. 

Editor’s note: Finally, the last blog of our TPO ban Symposium has arrived! Due to unforeseen circumstances, FIFA had to reconsider presenting its own views on the matter. However, FIFA advised us to contact Prof. Dr. Christian Duve to author the eagerly awaited blog on their behalf. Prof. Dr. Christian Duve is a lawyer and partner with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP and an honorary professor at the University of Heidelberg. He has been a CAS arbitrator until 2014. Thus, as planned, we will conclude this symposium with a post defending the compatibility of the TPO ban with EU law. Many thanks to Prof. Dr. Duve for having accepted this last-minute challenge! More...






Blog Symposium: Third Party Investment from a UK Perspective. By Daniel Geey

Introduction: FIFA’s TPO ban and its compatibility with EU competition law.
Day 1: FIFA must regulate TPO, not ban it.
Day 2: Third-party entitlement to shares of transfer fees: problems and solutions
Day 3: The Impact of the TPO Ban on South American Football.
Day 5: Why FIFA's TPO ban is justified.

Editor's note: In this fourth part of our blog symposium on FIFA's TPO ban Daniel Geey shares his 'UK perspective' on the ban. The English Premier League being one of the first leagues to have outlawed TPO in 2010, Daniel will outline the regulatory steps taken to do so and critically assess them. Daniel is an associate in Field Fisher Waterhouse LLP's Competition and EU Regulatory Law Group. As well as being a famous 'football law' twitterer, he has also published numerous articles and blogs on the subject.

 

What is Third Party Investment?
In brief Third Party Investment (TPI) in the football industry, is where a football club does not own, or is not entitled to, 100% of the future transfer value of a player that is registered to play for that team. There are numerous models for third party player agreements but the basic premise is that companies, businesses and/or individuals provide football clubs or players with money in return for owning a percentage of a player’s future transfer value. This transfer value is also commonly referred to as a player’s economic rights. There are instances where entities will act as speculators by purchasing a percentage share in a player directly from a club in return for a lump sum that the club can then use as it wishes. More...





Blog Symposium: The Impact of the TPO Ban on South American Football. By Ariel N. Reck

Introduction: FIFA’s TPO ban and its compatibility with EU competition law.
Day 1: FIFA must regulate TPO, not ban it.
Day 2: Third-party entitlement to shares of transfer fees: problems and solutions
Day 4: Third Party Investment from a UK Perspective.
Day 5: Why FIFA's TPO ban is justified.

Editor’s note: Ariel N. Reck is an Argentine lawyer specialized in the football industry. He is a guest professor at ISDE’s Global Executive Master in International Sports Law, at the FIFA CIES Sports law & Management course (Universidad Católica Argentina) and the Universidad Austral Sports Law diploma (Argentina) among other prestigious courses. He is a regular conference speaker and author in the field of sports law.

Being an Argentine lawyer, Ariel will focus on the impact FIFA’s TPO ban will have (and is already having) on South American football.More...





Blog Symposium: Third-party entitlement to shares of transfer fees: problems and solutions - By Dr. Raffaele Poli (Head of CIES Football Observatory)

Introduction: FIFA’s TPO ban and its compatibility with EU competition law.
Day 1: FIFA must regulate TPO, not ban it.
Day 3: The Impact of the TPO Ban on South American Football.
Day 4: Third Party Investment from a UK Perspective.
Day 5: Why FIFA's TPO ban is justified.

Editor’s note: Raffaele Poli is a human geographer. Since 2002, he has studied the labour and transfer markets of football players. Within the context of his PhD thesis on the transfer networks of African footballers, he set up the CIES Football Observatory based at the International Centre for Sports Studies (CIES) located in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. Since 2005, this research group develops original research in the area of football from a multidisciplinary perspective combining quantitative and qualitative methods. Raffaele was also involved in a recent study on TPO providing FIFA with more background information on its functioning and regulation (the executive summary is available here).

This is the third blog of our Symposium on FIFA’s TPO ban, it is meant to provide an interdisciplinary view on the question. Therefore, it will venture beyond the purely legal aspects of the ban to introduce its social, political and economical context and the related challenges it faces. More...






Blog Symposium: FIFA must regulate TPO, not ban it. The point of view of La Liga.

Introduction: FIFA’s TPO ban and its compatibility with EU competition law.
Day 2: Third-party entitlement to shares of transfer fees: problems and solutions
Day 3: The Impact of the TPO Ban on South American Football.
Day 4: Third Party Investment from a UK Perspective.
Day 5: Why FIFA's TPO ban is justified.

Editor's note: This is the first blog of our symposium on FIFA's TPO ban, it features the position of La Liga regarding the ban and especially highlights some alternative regulatory measures it would favour. La Liga has launched a complaint in front of the European Commission challenging the compatibility of the ban with EU law, its ability to show that realistic less restrictive alternatives were available is key to winning this challenge. We wish to thank La Liga for sharing its legal (and political) analysis of FIFA's TPO ban with us.

INTRODUCTION

The Spanish Football League (La Liga) has argued for months that the funding of clubs through the conveyance of part of players' economic rights (TPO) is a useful practice for clubs. However, it also recognized that the practice must be strictly regulated. In July 2014, it approved a provisional regulation that was sent to many of the relevant stakeholders, including FIFA’s Legal Affairs Department. More...






Asser International Sports Law Blog | Report from the first ISLJ Annual International Sports Law Conference - 26-27 October at the T.M.C. Asser Instituut

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

Report from the first ISLJ Annual International Sports Law Conference - 26-27 October at the T.M.C. Asser Instituut

Close to 100 participants from 37 different countries attended the first ISLJ Annual International Sports Law Conference that took place on 26-27 October 2017 in The Hague. The two-day programme featured panels on the FIFA transfer system, the labour rights and relations in sport, the protection of human rights in sport, EU law and sport, the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and the world anti-doping system. On top of that, a number of keynote speakers presented their views on contemporary topics and challenges in international sports law. This report provides a brief summary of the conference for both those who could not come and those who participated and would like to relive their time spent at the T.M.C. Asser Institute.



Day 1

Opening Keynote by Miguel Maduro

The audience did not have to wait long for one of the highlights of the conference as Miguel Maduro, a former Chair of the FIFA Governance Committee, took the floor immediately after Johan Lindholm, an Editor-in-Chief of the International Sports Law Journal, and Antoine Duval, the Head of the Asser International Sports Centre, had delivered their opening speeches. Drawing on his experience as a Chair of the FIFA Governance Committee, Miguel identified the resistance to public scrutiny, accountability and transparency as root causes of the governance crisis currently faced by FIFA. He suggested that an independent international agency be established to supervise the governance of international sports governing bodies. According to him, only the European Union is capable of taking such an initiative.

 

Panel Sessions

The first panel, chaired by Johan Lindholm, revolved around the FIFA transfer system. Jakub Laskowski from Legia Warszawa explained why we might need a different approach to solidarity in professional football. Eleanor Drywood from the University of Liverpool then examined the FIFA's ban on the international transfer of minors, suggesting that international sports governing bodies in general, and FIFA in particular, should take account of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in order to enhance the protection of minors in sport. Finally, William McAuliffe, a sports lawyer practising in Switzerland, spoke about buy-out clauses and the club's consent to transfer under the FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players.

The afternoon session started with a panel on the labour rights and relations in sport chaired by Professor Richard Parrish from Edge Hill University. Jack Withaar from Tilburg University focused on employment contracts in professional sport, concluding with the question whether international sports federations should take into consideration labour standards elaborated by the International Labour Organization. Thereafter, Matthew Graham from the World Players Association shared his insights on the functioning of international players' unions. Finally, Andrea Cattaneo from Edge Hill University encouraged a greater use of social dialogue to regulate professional football.

The last panel of the day, chaired by Professor Mark James from Manchester Metropolitan University, tackled a relatively new topic in international sports law – the protection of human rights. Whereas our research intern Tomáš Grell and Daniela Heerdt from Tilburg University discussed how human rights could be affected by the organisation of a mega-sporting event, Brendan Schwab from the World Players Association shed light on the more specific human rights risks faced by professional athletes. Both Tomáš Grell and Daniela Heerdt agreed that international sports governing bodies need to translate their human rights commitments from bidding and hosting agreements to actual practice. Brendan Schwab, for his part, emphasised that sportspeople are human first and athletes second, and introduced the World Player Rights Policy adopted by the World Players Association in July 2017.

Keynote Discussion between Michael Beloff QC and Sean Cottrell

Throughout his more than 50-years-long career in sports law, Michael Beloff QC, also known as one of the 'godfathers of sports law', has witnessed first-hand the professionalization of sport. This and many more aspects of his truly exceptional career as a sports lawyer featured in his keynote discussion with Sean Cottrell from LawInSport (a trusted media partner of the conference). Michael also touched upon some of the contemporary sports law themes, among which the lack of gender equality in the composition of international sports governing bodies, the role of athletes in good governance of sport, inaccuracies in sporting regulations or transparency at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.   



Day 2

Keynote Lecture by Stephen Weatherill

The second day also kicked off with a keynote lecture, this time delivered by Professor Stephen Weatherill from Oxford University, who examined the conditional autonomy enjoyed by international sports governing bodies under EU law. Against the background of UEFA's Financial Fair Play rules or the FIFA's ban on third-party ownership, he explained how sporting rules that would otherwise be incompatible with EU law could nevertheless be justified on account of the specific nature of sport, what he called the 'sporting margin of appreciation'. However; he also criticised the pyramidal structure of international sport for not allowing those at the bottom end (athletes and clubs) to participate in decision-making processes of international sports governing bodies.


Morning Session

The first panel of the day, chaired by Ben Van Rompuy from Leiden University, offered some interesting perspectives on the application of EU law to sport. Stefania Marassi from The Hague University of Applied Sciences explored the policies adopted by the European Union with a view to contributing to the promotion of sporting issues in line with Article 165 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. Christopher Flanagan, a lawyer practising in England, discussed why attempts to regulate the financial aspects of professional football are met with challenges under EU law. Employing FIFA's private order as a case study, Branislav Hock from the University of Portsmouth argued in his presentation that successful private modes of governance continuously emerge from public interventions, provided that the public acts as a reversed civil society. It is worthwhile to note that Branislav won the award for the best paper presented at the conference.

Thanks to Women in Sports Law, an association that unites women from more than 40 countries who specialise in sports law, the conference also continued over lunch. Lindsay Brandon, a sports lawyer practising in the United States, and Despina Mavromati, a Co-Founder of Women in Sports Law and a former Managing Counsel at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, talked about the current state of whereabouts requirements in the world anti-doping system. They were joined in the discussion by Professor Richard McLaren.

Keynote Lecture by Richard McLaren

After lunch, Professor Richard McLaren from Western University in Ontario, the former head of WADA's investigation into the Russian doping scandal, spoke about broader challenges to the operation of the world anti-doping system. Among other things, he stressed that athletes have a crucial role in uncovering doping practices, as they know much more about these practices than anybody else. Having insisted that whistleblowers are of utmost importance, he also criticised the International Olympic Committee for its treatment of the Russian athlete Yuliya Stepanova who was eventually blocked from competing at the Rio Olympics despite her exceptional contribution to the fight against doping. In more general terms, Richard asserted that the integrity of sport is threatened not only by doping but also by archaic governance, corruption or match-fixing.



Afternoon Session

After the lecture given by Richard McLaren, the conference continued with a panel on international sports arbitration chaired by Despina Mavromati. Howard Jacobs, an American sports lawyer, together with Lindsay Brandon from his office, discussed the proposal to create a permanent anti-doping division at the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Professor Jernej Letnar Černič from the Graduate School of Government and European Studies in Ljubljana then looked at how the guarantee of a fair trial could be strengthened in proceedings before the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Finally, Kazushige Ogawa from Rikkyo University in Tokyo shared his insights on the functioning of the Japan Sports Arbitration Agency.

The last panel of the conference, chaired by Antoine Duval, addressed one of the most pressing issues in the world of sport – the fight against doping. Kelsey Erickson from Leeds Beckett University examined a range of psychological factors influencing athletes who intend to blow the whistle on doping. Jan Exner from the Czech Olympic Committee focused on the sanctions for anti-doping rule violations, suggesting that a four-year period of ineligibility might be disproportionate. Finally, our last speaker Louise Reilly, an Irish barrister and a former counsel at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, provided a precise overview of jurisprudence dealing with intentional anti-doping rule violations under the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code.


A thank you note

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all the speakers and participants not only for joining but also for actively contributing to the very rich discussions that followed after each session. We hope that this is only the beginning and that the ISLJ Annual International Sports Law Conference will become a tradition in the coming years. For those who did not have the chance to attend, the ISLJ will publish a special issue including the papers of the conference, so stay tuned!

 

Looking forward to seeing you next year,

 

The team of the Asser International Sports Law Centre

 

PS: Feel free to leave us comments with your feedback/suggestions, so that we can work on improving the conference.


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