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

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...

Resolution of Disputes Arising From Football Contracts in Turkey. By N. Emre Bilginoglu

Editor’s note: N. Emre Bilginoglu[1] is a lawyer based in Istanbul. His book entitled “Arbitration on Football Contracts” was published in 2015.


Introduction

With a total market value of approximately 911 million EUR, the Turkish Super League ranks as one of the prominent football leagues in Europe. Five of the eighteen teams that make up half of the total market value are based in Istanbul, a busy megalopolis that hosts a population of fifteen million inhabitants.[2] As might be expected, the elevated market value brings forth a myriad of disputes, mainly between the clubs and the players. However, other crucial actors such as coaches and agents are also involved in some of the disputes. These actors of the football industry are of all countries, coming from various countries with different legal systems.

One corollary of rapid globalisation is the development of transnational law, which is quite visible in the lex sportiva.[3] Like foreign investors, foreign actors of the sports industry look for some legal security before signing a contract. FIFA does protect these foreign actors in some way, providing players and coaches legal remedies for employment-related disputes of an international dimension. But what if the legal system of the FIFA member association does not provide a reasonable legal remedy for its national actors?[4] More...


The World Anti-Doping System at a Crossroads

“One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. ‘Which road do I take?’ she asked. ‘Where do you want to go?’ was his response. ‘I don’t know,’ Alice answered. ‘Then,’ said the cat, ‘it doesn’t matter.”

Tomorrow the Foundation Board of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) will gather in Glasgow for its most important meeting since the creation of the Agency. Since the broadcasting of a documentary alleging systematic doping in Russian athletics by the German public broadcaster in December 2014, the anti-doping world has been in disarray. The various independent investigations (the Pound Report and the McLaren Report) ordered by WADA into doping allegations against Russian athletes have confirmed the findings of the documentary and the truth of the accusations brought forward by Russian whistle-blowers. Undeniably, there is something very rotten in the world anti-doping system. The current system failed to register a widespread, and apparently relatively open, state-sponsored scheme aimed at manipulating any doping test conducted in Russian territory. Moreover, it was not WADA that uncovered it, but an independent journalist supported by courageous whistle-blowers. More...


The EU State aid and sport saga: The Real Madrid Decision (part 1)

Out of all the State aid investigations of recent years involving professional football clubs, the outcome of the Real Madrid case was probably the most eagerly awaited. Few football clubs have such a global impact as this Spanish giant, and any news item involving the club, whether positive or negative, is bound to make the headlines everywhere around the globe. But for many Spaniards, this case involves more than a simple measure by a public authority scrutinized by the European Commission. For them, it exemplifies the questionable relationship between the private and the public sector in a country sick of never-ending corruption scandals.[1] Moreover, Spain is only starting to recover from its worst financial crisis in decades, a crisis founded on real estate speculation, but whose effects were mostly felt by ordinary citizens.[2] Given that the Real Madrid case involves fluctuating values of land that are transferred from the municipality to the club, and vice versa, it represents a type of operation that used to be very common in the Spanish professional football sector, but has come under critical scrutiny in recent years.[3] More...

International and European Sports Law – Monthly Report – October 2016. By Kester Mekenkamp.

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
We are looking for an International Sports Law Intern (with a particular interest in the CAS)! More information can be found here.


The (terrible) State of the World Anti-Doping System

The fight against doping is still on top of the agenda after the Russian doping scandal. The national anti-doping organizations (NADOs) have reiterated their call for an in depth reform of the World Anti-Doping Agency at a special summit in Bonn, Germany. These reforms are deemed urgent and necessary to “restore confidence of clean athletes and those who value the integrity of sport” and secure “the public’s desire for a fair and level playing field”. The NADOs propose, amongst others things, to separate the investigatory, testing and results management functions from sports organizations, and to remove sports administrators from crucial anti-doping executive functions. More...




Taking the Blue Pill or the Red Pill: Should Athletes Really Check their Medications against the Prohibited List Personally? - A Comment by Marjolaine Viret (University of Neuchâtel )

Editor's Note:  Marjolaine is an attorney admitted to the Geneva bar (Switzerland) who specialises in sports and life sciences.   She currently participates as a scientific collaborator at the University of Neuchâtel on a research project to produce the first article-by-article legal commentary of the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code. Her latest book Evidence in Anti-Doping at the Intersection of Science & Law was published in 2016 in the International Sports Law Book Series of T.M.C. ASSER Press.


INTRODUCTION

On 30 September 2016, a panel of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (“CAS”) rendered its award in the matter opposing high-profile tennis player Maria Sharapova to the International Tennis Federation (“ITF”). Maria Sharapova was appealing the two-year ban imposed on her by the ITF Tribunal in June 2016 for her use of Meldonium, a substance newly added to the WADA Prohibited List 2016[1]. Since neither the ITF nor WADA had chosen to challenge the Tribunal’s decision, the stakes of the case were rather simple: would the player convince the CAS panel that she should benefit from a finding of “No Significant Fault or Negligence”[2], thereby allowing for a reduction of the sanction down to a minimum of one year, or should the decision of the Tribunal be upheld? In its award, the CAS panel decided to grant such finding and reduced the sanction to 15 months.

This blog does not purport to be a ‘comment’ on the CAS award. Rather, it seeks to place the Sharapova matter into a broader context with respect to a specific issue: the expectations on Athletes when it comes to their awareness of the prohibited character of a substance, specifically when taking a medication[3]. In July 2016, I presented at the T.M.C Asser Institute in The Hague various current challenges of anti-doping that the Meldonium cases exposed (see the video here). One of these challenges concerned the modalities for including new substances onto the Prohibited List. This blog represents a follow-up on my presentation, in the light of the findings contained in the CAS award. More...



Case note: State aid Decision on the preferential corporate tax treatment of Real Madrid, Athletic Bilbao, Osasuna and FC Barcelona

On 28 September 2016, the Commission published the non-confidential version of its negative Decision and recovery order regarding the preferential corporate tax treatment of Real Madrid, Athletic Bilbao, Osasuna and FC Barcelona. It is the second-to-last publication of the Commission’s Decisions concerning State aid granted to professional football clubs, all announced on 4 July of this year.[1] Contrary to the other “State aid in football” cases, this Decision concerns State aid and taxation, a very hot topic in today’s State aid landscape. Obviously, this Decision will not have the same impact as other prominent tax decisions, such as the ones concerning Starbucks and Apple

Background

This case dates back to November 2009, when a representative of a number of investors specialised in the purchase of publicly listed shares, and shareholders of a number of European football clubs drew the attention of the Commission to a possible preferential corporate tax treatment of the four mentioned Spanish clubs.[2]More...



International and European Sports Law – Monthly Report – September 2016. By Kester Mekenkamp

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

September hosted the very last bit of the sport summer 2016, most notably in the form of the Rio Paralympic Games. Next to the spectacular achievements displayed during these games, in the realm of sports law similar thrilling developments hit town. The first very much expected #Sportslaw highlight was the decision by the German Bundesgerichtshof in the case concerning SV Wilhelmshaven. The second major (less expected) story was the Statement of Objections issued by the European Commission against the International Skating Union.More...


De- or Re-regulating the middlemen? The DFB’s regulation of intermediaries under EU law scrutiny at the OLG Frankfurt. By Antoine Duval and Kester Mekenkamp.

Football intermediaries, or agents, are again under attack in the news. For some, corrupt behaviour has become endemic in football’s culture. It is always dangerous to scapegoat a whole profession or a group of people. Many intermediaries are trying their best to lawfully defend the interests of their clients, but some are not. The key focus should be on providing an adequate legal and administrative framework to limit the opportunities for corrupt behaviour in the profession. This is easier said than done, however. We are dealing with an intrinsically transnationalized business, often conducted by intermediaries who are not subjected to the disciplinary power of federations. Sports governing bodies are lacking the police power and human resources necessary to force the intermediaries to abide by their private standards. In this context, this blog aims to review a recent case in front of the regional court of Frankfurt in Germany, which highlights the legal challenges facing (and leeway available to) national federations when regulating the profession. More...

Asser International Sports Law Blog | Fear and Loathing in Rio de Janeiro – Displacement and the Olympics by Ryan Gauthier (Thompson Rivers University)

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

Fear and Loathing in Rio de Janeiro – Displacement and the Olympics by Ryan Gauthier (Thompson Rivers University)

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

Introduction

On Sunday, August 21, the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro will end. The spotlight will dim not only on the athletes who return to their home countries to ply their trade in relative obscurity, but also on the country of Brazil.[1] Once the Games have ended, life will go ‘back to normal’, although for many residents of Rio de Janeiro, what is ‘normal’ is anything but.


Watching the opening ceremonies from the favelas – Andrej Isakovic via Getty Images


“A New World” for Favela Residents

While the world has been preoccupied with Zika, the Brazilian corruption crisis, the cesspool that is Guanabara Bay, and the worrying state of some of the sporting venues, the displacement of persons is perhaps the largest problem not only facing the Games, but is the largest one caused (or at least exacerbated) by the Games themselves. Since Rio de Janeiro was selected to be the host of the Olympic Games in 2009, over 77,000 individuals (22,000 families) have been evicted from their homes. Most, if not all, of these individuals were evicted from their homes in the favelas, or slums, communities that began to appear in earnest in the 1970s as Brazil, and Rio de Janeiro in particular, began to urbanize. Currently, favelas are home to 1.4 million people, or about 22% of Rio’s population. It is very likely that not all of these evictions were related to the Games directly. City officials have stated that only Vila Autodromo was directly-affected by the Games, as this particular favela was turned into a parking lot for the Olympic Park and twenty homes for those who refused to leave (Reuters provides a good before/after comparison).


Vila Autodromo (Olympic Park under construction) - Genilson Araújo / Parceiro/O Globo


However, seemingly taking their cue from Rio 2016’s slogan, “Um mundo novo” (“A New World”), city officials have used the Olympic Games as an excuse to ‘re-imagine’ the city on a broader scale. In a 2012 interview, the mayor of Rio stated that “The Olympics pretext is awesome; I need to use it as an excuse for everything…Now all that I need to do, I will do for the Olympics. Some things could be really related to the Games, others have nothing to do with them.” As such, people from favelas that have nothing to do with the Games have been evicted from their homes, with the Games creating the pseudo-state of ‘emergency’ that has, in other cities that have hosted the Games, been used as an excuse to bypass normal procedures and do away with normal protections, in the mold of Naomi Klein’s “shock capitalism”.

The Rio government has claimed to offer financial packages and resettlement options for those who were displaced. These compensation packages were imperfect, as the government offered less than market value for the homes, and those who were relocated may have been relocated anywhere from several to dozens of kilometers away from their former residence, uprooting their businesses or employment, and their social and family lives. However, the relocation policy appears to be the velvet glove concealing the iron fist. For those who resisted relocation, the city cut off their water, and halted garbage pickup and postal service, while violent clashes between residents and police have also been reported. While not directly-related to evictions, but closely related to conditions in the favelas, there has been a reported spike in police killings of street children to “clean the streets” ahead of the Games. While new housing is being built in Rio, much of it is set to be high-end condos, not affordable housing.


International Standards Regarding Housing

The focus of this particular blog post is not the legality of the displacement, per se. That is an issue best addressed by Brazilian lawyers. However, there are international standards that Brazil should live up to. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognises a right to own property, and prohibits the arbitrary deprivation of property. Another international instrument of wide application, the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), recognises a right to an adequate standard of living. The ICESCR Committee, in its General Comments in 1991 and 1997, has interpreted this standard to include a right against forced evictions. If an eviction does occur, rights to information and participation by those who are affected arise. Finally, when an eviction does take place, a right to compensation and adequate resettlement attaches.

The case of Rio seems to suggest that forced evictions have likely occurred, based on the sheer scale of those who were evicted. Given the timeline of preparing for the Games, provisions on notice and information appear to have been curtailed or cancelled altogether, given that the city went to work on evicting persons immediately after Rio was awarded the right to host the Games in 2009. While some residents, particularly of Vila Autodromo, received compensation and alternative housing, in many cases there appears to be disagreement as to whether compensation has been offered at all with locals saying they have not received compensation, while city authorities deny evicting families without compensation. Actions such as police raids, and cutting off public services also suggest the evictions approach the threshold of ‘forced’ rather than voluntary/negotiated. Regardless of whether the letter of these international standards has been violated, the scope and pace of the evictions is of great concern.


IOC Stance Regarding Displacement

In particular, it should be distressing to readers to see the International Olympic Committee (IOC) seemingly stand by while these evictions occur in the name of the Games. And it is not as if the IOC has no clue that evictions take place due to the Games. For many Games, at least some displacement occurs to make way for infrastructure, while the 2008 Beijing Games saw an estimated 1.25 million people evicted due to Olympic-related projects.

The IOC has responded to the problems of displacement, pledging in 2009 to intervene with the Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (the OCOG – the actual body that is responsible for Games’ preparations) in situations where people who were displaced due to Olympic venue construction were ‘mistreated’. However, the IOC has not said anything publicly in regards to the evictions, and there is no public information regarding any IOC intervention.

Following the IOC’s Agenda 2020, and its recommendations on ‘social sustainability’, the IOC now requires cities bidding to host the Olympics to identify projects that may require displacement of existing communities, and to confirm that the procedures used to displace persons will conform to national and/or international standards. However, promises made by host cities are not always lived up to, as can be seen by Rio’s failed promises to treat 80% of the water flowing into Guanabara Bay, and treating only 21% on the eve of the Games. Rio is apparently also able to get away with such failed promises consequence-free, despite the risk of harm to athletes competing in and around the waters.


The Games Cannot Fix All Ills, But They Should Avoid Creating New Ones…

Ultimately, the largest problem with the Olympic Games is a lack of accountability. The IOC, an organisation based in Switzerland, holds the rights to the Games and selects the host city, but does not actually organise the Games. As such, the IOC often appears to act as though what happens ‘on the ground’ is neither its concern nor its responsibility. Those who actually organise the Games, particularly the OCOG and Host City (the National Olympic Committee of the host country also participates, but is not relevant here), often have limited accountability to those who are harmed by the Games. The OCOG disbands shortly after the Games are over, leaving the Host City holding the bag. The Host City’s accountability is entirely dependent on the political and legal structures of the country, and in countries like Russia (Sochi 2014, World Cup 2018), China (Beijing 2008, Beijing 2022), but even in more established democracies, Host City officials may have limited accountability.

Now is the time that commentators jump up-and-down to shout that hosting the Olympic Games in a single site would fix all of the problems. By placing the Games in Athens (no permanent Winter Games host is ever suggested), there wouldn’t be a need to host the Games in countries with questionable human rights records, or to watch as every single Olympic Games goes over-budget. However, rarely are suggestions made as to who will pay for the infrastructure, which will likely need to be periodically updated (it might be a bit hard for the Greek government to afford it at this point), cope with the criticism that the Games would be cemented as a Euro-centric enterprise, or the other problems that would arise with a permanent host. The Olympic Games are going to continue to be held in countries with imperfect human rights records (which would be pretty much all of them), and in countries with poor human rights records.

All of this is to say that the IOC needs to begin to actually enforce its ideals, and its own mandate of ensuring an Olympic Games that is socially sustainable. The IOC and the Olympic Games should not be the solution to human rights problems in a host country, for they cannot be. However, the IOC does have a minimum moral responsibility to ensure that the Olympic Games themselves are prepared for with the utmost consideration for human rights. And the IOC already has the powers to enforce this mandate through the Host City Contract, whether by withholding money from the Host City, or at the most extreme end, by removing the Games altogether. The IOC has also arguably set a precedent of withholding its support for a country to host future sporting events as a result of the Russian doping scandal, and it could do the same for Olympic host cities that engage in practices that violate human rights in the name of the Games. Of course, this is ultimately up to the IOC itself, barring pressure from states or sponsors.

The Olympic Games were never going to fix Brazil’s or Rio’s problems. Many of Rio’s problems, including Zika, ongoing sanitation issues, corruption, and political and economic instability, have little to no connection to the Games, and were certainly not caused by the Games. In that vein, it is naïve to believe that the Games could be anything more than a temporary papering-over of the deep divisions in Brazilian society (for more on this point, I suggest reading Dave Zirin’s book, Brazil’s Dance with the Devil). What the Olympic Games can do is serve as an example of how to carry out a socially-sustainable project in an emerging market economy. This applies not only to the displacement of persons, but also to the treatment of those who work on construction projects related to the Games (as opposed to the forced labour used in Beijing and Sochi), the environmental sustainability of the Games, and governmental policies and procedures that enhance accountability. While the IOC has made tentative steps to address these issues, as I have addressed before in this space, it is insufficient. The IOC cannot solve all the world’s ills, but it can at least ensure that the Games, carried out under its name, live up to its own standards.  The Rio Olympic Games could have served as an example of how to carry out a socially-sustainable project in an emerging market economy.

 



[1] Although the Paralympics will arrive on 7 September, and while London 2012 did an excellent job of promoting those Games it remains to be seen if Rio will follow suit.


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