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International and European Sports Law – Monthly Report – October 2019 by Thomas Terraz

Editor's note: This report compiles the most relevant legal news, events and materials on International and European Sports Law based on the daily coverage provided on our twitter feed @Sportslaw_asser. 

The Headlines

International Sports Law Journal (ISLJ) Conference 2019

The T.M.C. Asser Institute and the Asser International Sports Law Centre held the third International Sports Law Journal (ISLJ) Conference on October 24-25. The Conference created a forum for academics and practitioners to discuss, debate and share knowledge on the latest developments of sports law. It featured six uniquely themed panels, which included topics such as ‘Transfer systems in international sports’ and ‘Revisiting the (in)dependence and transparency of the CAS’ to ‘The future of sports: sports law of the future’. The ISLJ Conference was also honored to have two exceptional keynote speakers: Moya Dodd and Ulrich Haas. To kick off the conference, Moya Dodd shared her experiences from an athlete’s perspective in the various boardrooms of FIFA. The second day was then launched by Ulrich Haas, who gave an incredibly thorough and insightful lecture on the importance, function and legal basis of association tribunals in international sport. For a detailed overview of this year’s ISLJ Conference, click here for the official conference report.

The Asser International Sports Law Centre was delighted to have been able to host another great edition of the ISLJ Conference and is thankful to all the participants and speakers who made this edition such a success.

Moving towards greater transparency: Launch of FIFA’s Legal Portal

On October 31, FIFA announced that it was introducing a new legal portal on its website that will give greater access to numerous documents that previously were kept private. FIFA explains that this is in order to help increase its transparency, which was one of the key ‘Guiding Principles’ highlighted in FIFA 2.0: The Vision for the Future released in 2016. This development comes as many sport governing bodies face increasing criticism for the opacity of its judicial bodies’ decisions, which can have tremendous economic and societal impacts. The newly available documents will include: ‘decisions rendered on the merits by the FIFA Disciplinary Committee and the FIFA Appeal Committee (notified as of 1 January 2019); decisions rendered on the merits by the FIFA Ethics Committee (notified since 1 January 2019); decisions rendered on the merits by the FIFA Players’ Status Committee and the FIFA Dispute Resolution Chamber; non-confidential CAS awards in proceedings to which FIFA is a party (notified since 1 January 2019); list of CAS arbitrators proposed by FIFA for appointment by ICAS, and the number of times they have been nominated in CAS proceedings’. The list of decisions from all the aforementioned bodies are updated every four months, according to their respective webpages. However, time will ultimately tell how consistently decisions are published. Nevertheless, this move is a major milestone in FIFA’s journey towards increasing its transparency.

Hong Kong Protests, Human Rights and (e)Sports Law: The Blizzard and NBA controversies

Both Blizzard, a major video game developer, and the NBA received a flurry of criticism for their responses to persons expressing support for the Hong Kong protests over the past month. On October 8, Blizzard sanctioned Blitzchung, a professional Hearthstone player who expressed support of the Hong Kong protest during a post-match interview, by eliminating the prize money he had won and suspending him for one year from any Hearthstone tournament. Additionally, Blizzard will cease to work with the casters who conducted the interview. With mounting disapproval over the sanctions,  J. Allen Brack, the president of Blizzard, restored the prize money and reduced the period of ineligibility to 6 months.

The NBA controversy started when Daryl Morey, the general manager of the Houston Rockets, tweeted his support for the protests in Hong Kong. The tweet garnered much attention, especially in China where it received a lot of backlash, including an announcement from CCTV, the official state broadcaster in China, that it was suspending all broadcasts of the NBA preseason games. In attempts to appease its Chinese audience, which is a highly profitable market for the NBA, Morey deleted the tweet and posted an apology, and the NBA responded by saying that the initial tweet was ‘regrettable’. Many scolded these actions and accused the NBA of censorship to which the NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver, responded that the NBA remains committed to freedom of expression.

Both cases highlighted how (e)sport organizations may be faced with competing interests to either guarantee greater protection of human rights or to pursue interests that perhaps have certain financial motivations. More...

International and European Sports Law – Monthly Report – August and September 2019 - By Thomas Terraz

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

Another Russian Doping Crisis? Inconsistencies Uncovered in the Data from the Moscow Lab

Storm clouds are brewing once more in the Russian Doping Saga, after several inconsistencies were uncovered by WADA from data retrieved from the Moscow Laboratory. More specifically, a certain number of positive tests had been removed from the data WADA retrieved from the Moscow Laboratory compared to the one received from the original whistleblower. WADA launched a formal compliance procedure on 23 September, giving three weeks for Russian authorities to respond and provide their explanations. WADA’s Compliance Review Committee is set to meet on 23 October in order to determine whether to recommend declaring Russia non-compliant.

Russian authorities are not the only ones now facing questions in light of these new revelations. Criticism of WADA’s decision to declare Russia compliant back in September 2018 have been reignited by stakeholders. That original decision had been vehemently criticized (see also Edwin Moses’ response), particularly by athlete representative groups.

The fallout of these data discrepancies may be far reaching if Russian authorities are unable to provide a satisfying response. There are already whispers of another impending Olympic Games ban and the possibility of a ban extending to other sports signed to the WADA Code. In the meantime, the IAAF has already confirmed that the Russian Athletes would compete as ‘authorised neutral athletes’ at the World Athletics Championship in Doha, Qatar.

Legal Challenges Ahead to Changes to the FIFA Football Transfer Market

FIFA is set to make amendments to its player transfer market that take aim at setting new boundaries for football agents. These changes will prohibit individuals from representing both the buying and selling club in the same transaction and set new limits on agent commissions (3 percent for the buying club and player representative and 10 percent for the selling team). FIFA is already in the process of creating a central clearinghouse through which all transfer payments would have to pass through, including agent commissions. FIFA will be making a final decision on these proposed changes at the FIFA Council meeting on 24 October.

If these proposed changes are confirmed, they will almost certainly be challenged in court. The British trade organization representing football agents, Association of Football Agents, has already begun its preparations for a costly legal battle by sending a plea to its members for donations. It claims that it had not been properly consulted by FIFA before this decision had been made. On the other hand, FIFA claims that ‘there has been a consultation process with a representative group of agents’ and that FIFA kept ‘an open dialogue with agents’. Regardless, if these proposed changes go through, FIFA will be on course to a looming legal showdown.

CAS Public Hearing in the Sun Yang Case: One Step Forward for Transparency?

On 20 August, 2019, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) announced that the hearing in the appeal procedure of the Sun Yang case will be held publicly. It will be only the second time in its history that a public hearing has been held (the last one being in 1999, Michelle Smith De Bruin v. FINA). WADA has appealed the original decision of the FINA Doping Panel which had cleared Sun Yang from an alleged anti-doping rule violation. The decision to make the hearing public was at the request of both parties. The hearing is set to take place November 15th and is likely to be an important milestone in improving the CAS’ transparency.

Sun Yang, who has already served a doping ban for a previous violation in 2014, has also been at the center of another controversy, where Mack Horton, an Australian swimmer, refused to shake hands and stand on the podium with Sun Yang at the world championships in Gwangju. More...

ISLJ International Sports Law Conference 2019 - Conference Report - By Thomas Terraz

On October 24th and 25th 2019, the T.M.C. Asser Institute and the International Sports Law Centre hosted the International Sports Law Journal (ISLJ) Conference for a third year in a row, bringing together a group of academics and practitioners from around the world. This year’s conference celebrated the 20th year of the International Sports Law Journal, which was originally started by Robert Siekmann. Over the past 20 years, the ISLJ has aimed to be a truly international journal that addresses global topics in sports law while keeping the highest academic standards.

With this background, the conference facilitated discussions and exchanges over six differently themed panels on international sports law’s most pertinent issues and gave participants wide opportunities to engage with one another. Additionally, this year’s edition also had the great honor of hosting two distinguished keynote speakers, Moya Dodd and Ulrich Haas, who were able to share their wealth of experience and knowledge with the conference participants.

The following report aims to give an overview of the ISLJ Conference 2019 to extract and underline the fundamental ideas raised by the different speakers.More...

Caster Semenya’s Legal Battle Against Gender Stereotypes: On Nature, Law and Identity - By Sofia Balzaretti (University of Fribourg)

Editor's note: Sofia Balzaretti is a Graduate research assistant and a PhD candidate at the University of Fribourg (Switzerland) where she is writing a thesis on the Protection against Gender Stereotypes in International Law. In addition to research in human rights and feminist legal theory, she has also carried out some research in legal philosophy and on the relationship between gender and the law.


The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), the monitoring body of track and field athletics, regularly submitted South African middle distance runner and Olympic gold medalist Mokgadi Caster Semenya to sex verification tests when it began questioning her sexual characteristics and speculating whether her body belonged on the Disorder of Sex Development (DSD) spectrum. DSD Syndrome is often defined as an “intersex condition” which affects the clear development of either/or genitalia, gonads and chromosomes into one distinctive sex or another. The spectrum of the intersex condition is particularly wide, and the disorder can sometimes be minimal - some cases of female infertility can actually be explained by an intersex condition.

The IAAF deemed the controversial sex verification tests necessary on the grounds that it was required to prove Semenya did not have a “medical condition” which could give her an “unfair advantage”. It was eventually found that, because of an intersex trait, Semenya did have abnormally high levels of testosterone for a woman, which, in the IAAF’s opinion, justified a need for regulatory hormonal adjustments in order for her to keep competing in the women’s category. The IAAF also funded research to determine how ‘hyperandrogenism’ affects athletic performance. In 2018, it issued Eligibility Regulations on Female Classification (“Athlete with Differences of Sexual Development”) for events from 400m to the mile, including 400m, hurdles races, 800m and 1’500m. The IAAF rules indicated that in case of an existing high level of testosterone, suppression or regulation by chemotherapy, hormonal castration, and/or iatrogenic irradiation was mandatory in order to take part in these events.

Semenya and her lawyers challenged the IAAF Regulations in front of the CAS, who, in a very controversial decision, deemed the Regulations a necessary, reasonable and proportionate mean “of achieving the aim of what is described as the integrity of female athletics and for the upholding of the ‘protected class’ of female athletes in certain events” (§626). More...

International and European Sports Law – Monthly Report – June and July 2019 - By Tomáš Grell

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 European Court of Justice finds that rule of a sports association excluding nationals of other Member States from domestic amateur athletics championships may be contrary to EU law

On 13 June 2019, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) delivered a preliminary ruling at the request of the Amtsgericht Darmstadt (Local Court Darmstadt, Germany) filed in the course of the proceedings involving Mr Daniele Biffi, an Italian amateur athlete residing in Germany, and his athletics club TopFit based in Berlin, on the one hand, and the German athletics association Deutscher Leichtathletikverband, on the other. The case concerned a rule adopted by the German athletics association under which nationals of other Member States are not allowed to be awarded the title of national champion in senior amateur athletics events as they may only participate in such events outside/without classification. The ECJ’s task was to decide whether or not the rule in question adheres to EU law.

The ECJ took the view that the two justifications for the rule in question put forward by the German athletics association did not appear to be founded on objective considerations and called upon the Amtsgericht Darmstadt to look for other considerations that would pursue a legitimate objective. In its judgment, the ECJ analysed several important legal questions, including amongst others the applicability of EU law to amateur sport or the horizontal applicability of European citizenship rights (for detailed analysis of the judgment, please see our blog written by Thomas Terraz).

Milan not featuring in this season’s edition of Europa League following a settlement with UEFA

On 28 June 2019, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) rendered a consent award giving effect to a settlement agreement between UEFA and the Milan Football Club, under which the Italian club agreed to serve a one-year ban from participation in UEFA club competitions as a result of its breaches of UEFA’s financial fair play regulations over the 2015/2016/2017 and the 2016/2017/2018 monitoring periods, while the European football’s governing body agreed to set aside previous decisions of the Investigatory and Adjudicatory Chamber of its Club Financial Control Body which had found Milan guilty of the respective breaches.   

This was not the first intervention of the CAS related to Milan’s (non-)compliance with UEFA’s financial fair play regulations. In July 2018, the CAS annulled the decision of the Adjudicatory Chamber of the UEFA Club Financial Control Body of 19 June 2018 which was supposed to lead to the exclusion of the Italian club from UEFA club competitions for which it would otherwise qualify in the next two seasons (i.e. 2018/2019 and 2019/2020 seasons). Following such intervention of the CAS – which concerned the 2015/2016/2017 monitoring period – it may have appeared that Milan would eventually manage to escape a ban from participation in UEFA club competitions for breaches of UEFA’s financial fair play regulations. However, Milan’s case was again referred to the Adjudicatory Chamber of the UEFA Club Financial Control Body in April 2019 – this time its alleged breaches of UEFA’s financial fair play regulations concerned the 2016/2017/2018 monitoring period – and such referral apparently forced Milan into negotiations with UEFA which led to the settlement agreement ratified by the CAS.      

Swiss Federal Tribunal gives Caster Semenya a glimmer of hope at first but then stops her from running at the IAAF World Championships in Doha

Caster Semenya’s legal team brought an appeal to the Swiss Federal Tribunal in late May against the landmark ruling of the CAS which gave the IAAF the green light to apply its highly contentious Eligibility Regulations for Female Classification (Athlete with Difference of Sexual Development) preventing female athletes with naturally elevated levels of testosterone from participating in certain athletic events unless they take medication to supress such levels of testosterone below the threshold of five nmol/L for a continuous period of at least six months. The appeal yielded some positive partial results for Caster Semenya early on as the Swiss Federal Tribunal ordered the IAAF on 3 June 2019 to suspend the implementation of the contested regulations. However, the Swiss Federal Tribunal overturned its decision at the end of July which means that Caster Semenya is no longer able to run medication-free and this will most likely be the case also when the 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships kick off in Doha in less than one month’s time. The procedural decisions adopted by the Swiss Federal Tribunal thus far have no impact on the merits of Caster Semenya’s appeal.More...

Can a closed league in e-Sports survive EU competition law scrutiny? The case of LEC - By Thomas Terraz

Editor’s note: Thomas Terraz is a third year LL.B. candidate at the International and European Law programme at The Hague University of Applied Sciences with a specialisation in European Law. Currently he is pursuing an internship at the T.M.C. Asser Institute with a focus on International and European Sports Law.

1.     Introduction

The organizational structure of sports in Europe is distinguished by its pyramid structure which is marked by an open promotion and relegation system. A truly closed system, without promotion and relegation, is unknown to Europe, while it is the main structure found in North American professional sports leagues such as the NFL, NBA and the NHL. Recently, top European football clubs along with certain members of UEFA have been debating different possibilities of introducing a more closed league system to European football. Some football clubs have even wielded the threat of forming an elite closed breakaway league. Piercing through these intimidations and rumors, the question of whether a closed league system could even survive the scrutiny of EU competition law remains. It could be argued that an agreement between clubs to create a completely closed league stifles competition and would most likely trigger the application of Article 101 and 102 TFEU.[1] Interestingly, a completely closed league franchise system has already permeated the European continent. As outlined in my previous blog, the League of Legends European Championship (LEC) is a European e-sports competition that has recently rebranded and restructured this year from an open promotion and relegation system to a completely closed franchise league to model its sister competition from North America, the League Championship Series. This case is an enticing opportunity to test how EU competition law could apply to such a competition structure.

As a preliminary note, this blog does not aim to argue whether the LEC is a ‘real’ sport competition and makes the assumption that the LEC could be considered as a sports competition.[2]


Book Review - Football and the Law, Edited by Nick De Marco - By Despina Mavromati (SportLegis/University of Lausanne)

 Editor's Note: Dr. Despina Mavromati, LL.M., M.B.A., FCIArb is an Attorney-at-law specialized in international sports law and arbitration (SportLegis) and a Member of the UEFA Appeals Body. She teaches sports arbitration and sports contracts at the University of Lausanne (Switzerland) and is a former Managing Counsel at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

This comprehensive book of more than 500 pages with contributions by 53 authors and edited by Nick De Marco QC “aims to embody the main legal principles and procedures that arise in football law”. It is comprised of 29 chapters and includes an index, a table of football regulations and a helpful table of cases including CAS awards, UEFA & FIFA Disciplinary Committee decisions and Football Association, Premier League and Football League decisions. 

The 29 chapters cover a wide range of regulatory and legal issues in football, predominantly from the angle of English law. This is logical since both the editor and the vast majority of contributing authors are practitioners from England.

Apart from being of evident use to anyone involved in English football, the book offers additional basic principles that are likely to be of use also to those involved in football worldwide, including several chapters entirely dedicated to the European and International regulatory framework on football: chapter 3 (on International Federations) gives an overview of the pyramidal structure of football internationally and delineates the scope of jurisdiction among FIFA and the confederations; chapter 4 explains European law and its application on football deals mostly with competition issues and the free movement of workers; and chapter 29 deals with international football-related disputes and the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

In addition to the chapters exclusively dealing with international football matters, international perspectives and the international regulatory landscape is systematically discussed – in more or less depth, as the need might be – in several other chapters of the book, including: chapter 2 on the “Institutions” (from governing bodies to stakeholders groups in football); chapter 6 on the FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players (RSTP); chapter 8 dealing with (national and international) player transfers; chapter 11 (on Third Party Investment) and chapter 16 on Financial Fair Play (mostly discussing the UEFA FFP Regulations); chapter 23  on disciplinary matters (very briefly discussing the disciplinary procedures under FIFA and UEFA Disciplinary rules); chapter 24 on domestic and international doping-related cases in football, with an overview of the CAS jurisprudence in this respect; and finally chapter 23 on corruption and match-fixing (with a very short description of the FIFA and UEFA regulations).

Furthermore, the book offers extensive chapters in less discussed – yet of high importance – football topics, including: chapter 13 on image rights and key clauses in image rights agreements; chapter 14 on taxation (referring also to taxation issues in image rights and intermediary fees); chapter 15 on sponsoring and commercial rights, with a guide on the principal provisions in a football sponsoring contract and various types of disputes arising out of sponsorship rights; chapter 17 on personal injury, discussing the duty of care in football cases (from the U.K.); and chapter 18 on copyright law and broadcasting (with short references to the European law and the freedom to supply football broadcasting services).

Some chapters seem to have a more general approach to the subject matter at issue without necessarily focusing on football. These include chapters 27 (on mediation) and 22 (on privacy and defamation), and even though they were drafted by reputable experts in their fields, I would still like to see chapter 27 discuss in more detail the specific aspects, constraints and potential of mediation in football-related disputes as opposed to a general overview of mediation as a dispute-resolution mechanism. The same goes for chapter 22, but this could be explained by the fact that there are not necessarily numerous football-specific cases that are publicly available. 

As is internationally known, “football law” is male-dominated. This is also demonstrated in the fact that of the 53 contributing authors, all of them good colleagues and most of them renowned in their field, only eight are female (15%). Their opinions, however, are of great importance to the book due to the subject matter on which these women have contributed, such as player contracts (Jane Mulcahy QC), player transfers (Liz Coley), immigration issues in football (Emma Mason), broadcasting (Anita Davies) or disciplinary issues (Alice Bricogne).

The book is a success not only due to the great good work done by its editor, Nick De Marco QC but first and foremost due to its content, masterfully prepared by all 53 authors. On the one hand, the editor carefully delimited and structured the scope of each topic in a logical order and in order to avoid overlaps (a daunting task in case of edited volumes with numerous contributors like this one!), while on the other hand, all 53 authors followed a logical and consistent structure in their chapters and ensured an expert analysis that would have not been possible had this book been authored by one single person.  

Overall, I found this book to be a great initiative and a very useful and comprehensive guide written by some of the most reputable experts. The chapters are drafted in a clear and understandable way and the editor did a great job putting together some of the most relevant and topical legal and regulatory issues from the football field, thus filling a much-needed gap in the “football law” literature.

I’m A Loser Baby, So Let’s Kill Transparency – Recent Changes to the Olympic Games Host City Selection Process - By Ryan Gauthier (Thompson Rivers University)

Editor's Note: Ryan Gauthier is Assistant Professor at Thompson Rivers University in Canada. Ryan’s research addresses the governance of sports organisations, with a particular focus on international sports organisations. His PhD research examined the accountability of the International Olympic Committee for human rights violations caused by the organisation of the Olympic Games.

Big June 2019 for Olympic Hosting

On June 24, 2019, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) selected Milano-Cortina to host the 2026 Winter Olympic Games. Milano-Cortina’s victory came despite a declaration that the bid was “dead” just months prior when the Italian government refused to support the bid. Things looked even more dire for the Italians when 2006 Winter Games host Turin balked at a three-city host proposal. But, when the bid was presented to the members of the IOC Session, it was selected over Stockholm-Åre by 47 votes to 34. 

Just two days later, the IOC killed the host selection process as we know it. The IOC did this by amending two sections of the Olympic Charter in two key ways. First, the IOC amended Rule 33.2, eliminating the requirement that the Games be selected by an election seven years prior to the Games. While an election by the IOC Session is still required, the seven-years-out requirement is gone.

Second, the IOC amended Rule 32.2 to allow for a broader scope of hosts to be selected for the Olympic Games. Prior to the amendment, only cities could host the Games, with the odd event being held in another location. Now, while cities are the hosts “in principle”, the IOC had made it so: “where deemed appropriate, the IOC may elect several cities, or other entities, such as regions, states or countries, as host of the Olympic Games.”

The change to rule 33.2 risks undoing the public host selection process. The prior process included bids (generally publicly available), evaluation committee reports, and other mechanisms to make the bidding process transparent. Now, it is entirely possible that the IOC may pre-select a host, and present just that host to the IOC for an up-or-down vote. This vote may be seven years out from the Games, ten years out, or two years out. More...

A New Chapter for EU Sports Law and European Citizenship Rights? The TopFit Decision - By Thomas Terraz

Editor’s note: Thomas Terraz is a third year LL.B. candidate at the International and European Law programme at The Hague University of Applied Sciences with a specialisation in European Law. Currently he is pursuing an internship at the T.M.C. Asser Institute with a focus on International and European Sports Law.


1.     Introduction

Christmas has come very early this year for the EU sports law world in the form of the Court of Justice of the European Union’s (CJEU) judgment in TopFit eV, Daniele Biffi v Deutscher Leichtathletikverband eV by exclusively analyzing the case on the basis of European citizenship rights and its application to rules of sports governing bodies that limit their exercise. The case concerned an Italian national, Daniele Biffi, who has been residing in Germany for over 15 years and participates in athletic competitions in the senior category, including the German national championships. In 2016, the Deutscher Leichtathletikverband (DLV), the German Athletics Federation, decided to omit a paragraph in its rules that allowed the participation of EU nationals in national championships on the same footing as German citizens. As a result, participation in the national championship was subject to prior authorization of the organizers of the event, and even if participation was granted, the athlete may only compete outside of classification and may not participate in the final heat of the competition. After having been required to compete out of classification for one national championship and even dismissed from participating in another, Mr. Biffi and TopFit, his athletics club based in Berlin, brought proceedings to a German national court. The national court submitted a request for a preliminary ruling to the CJEU in which it asked essentially whether the rules of the DLV, which may preclude or at least require a non-national to compete outside classification and the final heat, are contrary to Articles 18, 21 and 165 TFEU. Articles 18 and 21 TFEU, read together, preclude discrimination on the basis of nationality against European citizens exercising their free movement. The underlying (massive) question here is whether these provisions can be relied on by an amateur athlete against a private body, the DLV.

Covered in a previous blog, the Advocate General’s (AG) opinion addressed the case from an entirely different angle. Instead of tackling the potentially sensitive questions attached with interpreting the scope of European citizenship rights, the opinion focused on the application of the freedom of establishment because the AG found that participation in the national championships was sufficiently connected to the fact Mr. Biffi was a professional trainer who advertised his achievements in those competitions on his website. Thus, according to the AG, there was a sufficient economic factor to review the case under a market freedom. The CJEU, in its decision, sidelined this approach and took the application of European citizenship rights head on.

The following will dissect the Court’s decision by examining the three central legal moves of the ruling: the general applicability of EU law to amateur sport, the horizontal applicability of European citizenship rights, and justifications and proportionality requirements of access restrictions to national competitions. More...

International and European Sports Law – Monthly Report – April and May 2019. By Tomáš Grell

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 

Caster Semenya learns that it is not always easy for victims of discrimination to prevail in court

The world of sport held its breath as the Secretary General of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) Matthieu Reeb stood before the microphones on 1 May 2019 to announce the verdict reached by three arbitrators (one of them dissenting) in the landmark case involving the South African Olympic and world champion Caster Semenya. Somewhat surprisingly, the panel of arbitrators came to the conclusion that the IAAF’s regulations requiring female athletes with differences of sexual development to reduce their natural testosterone level below the limit of 5 nmol/L and maintain that reduced level for a continuous period of at least six months in order to be eligible to compete internationally at events between 400 metres and a mile, were necessary, reasonable and proportionate to attain the legitimate aim of ensuring fair competition in female athletics, even though the panel recognised that the regulations were clearly discriminatory. Ms Semenya’s legal team decided to file an appeal against the ruling at the Swiss Federal Tribunal. For the time being, this appears to be a good move since the tribunal ordered the IAAF at the beginning of June to suspend the application of the challenged regulations to Ms Semenya with immediate effect, which means that Ms Semenya for now continues to run medication-free.


Champions League ban looms on Manchester City

On 18 May 2019, Manchester City completed a historic domestic treble after defeating Watford 6-0 in the FA Cup Final. And yet there is a good reason to believe that the club’s executives did not celebrate as much as they would under normal circumstances. This is because only two days before the FA Cup Final the news broke that the chief investigator of the UEFA Club Financial Control Body (CFCB) had decided to refer Manchester City’s case concerning allegations of financial fair play irregularities to the CFCB adjudicatory chamber for a final decision. Thus, the chief investigator most likely found that Manchester City had indeed misled UEFA over the real value of its sponsorship income from the state-owned airline Etihad and other companies based in Abu Dhabi, as the leaked internal emails and other documents published by the German magazine Der Spiegel suggested. The chief investigator is also thought to have recommended that a ban on participation in the Champions League for at least one season be imposed on the English club. The club’s representatives responded to the news with fury and disbelief, insisting that the CFCB investigatory chamber had failed to take into account a comprehensive body of irrefutable evidence it had been provided with. They eventually decided not to wait for the decision of the CFCB adjudicatory chamber, which is yet to be adopted, and meanwhile took the case to the CAS, filing an appeal against the chief investigator’s referral.


The Brussels Court of Appeal dismisses Striani’s appeal on jurisdictional grounds

The player agent Daniele Striani failed to convince the Brussels Court of Appeal that it had jurisdiction to entertain his case targeting UEFA’s financial fair play regulations. On 11 April 2019, the respective court dismissed his appeal against the judgment of the first-instance court without pronouncing itself on the question of compatibility of UEFA’s financial fair play regulations with EU law. The court held that it was not competent to hear the case because the link between the regulations and their effect on Mr Striani as a player agent, as well as the link between the regulations and the role of the Royal Belgian Football Association in their adoption and enforcement, was too remote (for a more detailed analysis of the decision, see Antoine’s blog here). The Brussels Court of Appeal thus joined the European Court of Justice and the European Commission as both these institutions had likewise rejected to assess the case on its merits in the past.


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Asser International Sports Law Blog | FIFA’s provision on the protection of minors - Part 2: The 2009 reform and its aftermath. By Kester Mekenkamp.

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

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] In response to this perceived failure, a new set of rules and procedures was adopted and came into force on 1 October 2009: the creation of a special FIFA oversight sub-committee of the PSC, the introduction of a special provision on football academies, and the instalment of a transfer matching system.[3] Importantly, with the enactment of these new regulations, Articles 19 and 19bis RSTP were included in the set of provisions binding upon the national level, which consequently had to be incorporated into the national associations’ regulations without alteration.[4]

This new 11-member PSC sub-committee (consisting of representatives of the confederations, leagues, clubs, players and the PSC’s chairman and deputy chairman) became the supervising body concerning the examination, and potential approval, of every international transfer and first registration of a minor player.[5] Its approval is mandatory and needs to be obtained prior to any request for any association’s ITC-request.[6] Moreover, non-compliance can be sanctioned by the FIFA’s Disciplinary Committee, although a limited exception from this obligation exists for minor amateur players.[7]

Article 19bis RSTP on the registration and reporting of minors at academies was another substantial modification with respect to the protection of minors.[8] A football academy is defined by the regulations as “an organisation or an independent legal entity whose primary, long-term objective is to provide players with long-term training through the provision of the necessary training facilities and infrastructure. This shall primarily include, but not be limited to, football training centres, football camps, football schools, etc.”[9] With the creation of this new provision, all minor players that attend an academy, indifferent to whether or not that academy takes part in a national championship or has a legal, financial or de facto link to a club participating in a national championship, must be reported to the national association upon whose territory the academy operates.[10] This regulation of academies resembles an attempt to deal with what was previously a major loophole, the unregistered academies.[11]

The third major change was the instalment of a transfer matching system (“TMS”), which is a web-based data information system that, first of all, aims to simplify the processing of international transfers.[12] Its task is to provide more details to football’s governing bodies on all transfers taking place.[13] This should furthermore increase the transparency of the individual transactions, and in doing so, it will “improve the credibility and standing of the entire transfer system, and additionally also “safeguard the protection of minors”.[14] In practice, the TMS is a central database that monitors the international movement of players. As mentioned earlier, every application for an international transfer by a minor player must receive the approval of the PSC sub-committee. This process is managed through the transfer matching system, the details of which are stipulated in annexe 2 of the RSTP.[15] The sub-committee decides with three of its members, or, in urgent cases, through a sole member acting as “single judge”.[16] The national association wanting to register a player, files the application for an approval of an international transfer (or first registration) into the TMS.[17] Accompanying this application, the TMS requires a great number of specific documents, depending on the facts of the case and the exception that is being invoked.[18] This mandatory release of information spans documentation on, inter alia: academic and football education, accommodation, player’s and/or player’s parent(s) contract, parental authorisation and a birth certificate.[19] Subsequently, the sub-committee decides whether or not it gives its approval. If so, an ITC will be delivered via the TMS and the transfer can be finalized.[20] Parties involved have 10 days to inquire for the grounds of the decision, after that an appeal before the CAS is still open. Note that this procedure for minors differs from a regular international transfer, in that for the latter there is no substantive review by a third party. The clubs provide the relevant information and the TMS merely, automatically, checks whether the two strands of facts match.[21]

The Elmir Muhic case

The regulatory system laid down in the 2009 RSTP operates in roughly the same manner today, as the revisions of 2010, 2012, 2014, 2015, did not substantially amend the core rules.[22] The case law of the CAS during this period, from 2009 to 2012, provides some examples of the application and interpretation of the 2009 rules.

In Elmir Muhic v. FIFA, a 16-year-old football player from Bosnia-Herzegovina joined the German OFC Kickers Offenbach.[23] Following the PSC sub-committee refusal to give its approval, the case ended up before the CAS. The Panel found that none of the three exceptions applied in the matter at hand. It did specify, in relation to the “parents-rule” of Article 19(2)(a), that the term “parents” needs to be applied stricto sensu.[24] Even though it could “conceivably cover situations beyond the natural parents”, such was not the case here.[25] Muhic’s parents still lived in Bosnia and Herzegovina (and it remained uncertain why they did not joined their child), while the player stayed at his aunt’s house.[26] The Panel stated that an aunt (and relatives alike) cannot replace the player’s parents in order to invoke the exception.[27] 

The Vada II case

Around the same time, Vada II made an important contribution to the application of Article 19(2)(b) (the first case had evolved along the lines of the Acuña award).[28] Valentin Vada was a football player living in Argentina, with dual citizenship. Next to possessing the Argentinian nationality, Vada also owned an Italian passport.[29] The 16-year-old was of the opinion that he could transfer to the French Club Girondins de Bordeaux, based on the “EU and EEA-rule” of Article 19(2)(b) RSTP.[30] FIFA’s single judge rejected the request, as he found the facts of the transfer not to match the strict requirements of the exception.[31] The arbiter reasoned that this exception is based on the criterion of territoriality, not nationality, and thus only refers to “a transfer taking place within the territory of the EU or EEA”.[32] Therefore, as Vada wished to transfer from an Argentinian club, Article 19(2)(b) RSTP could not be applied. Be that as it may, the CAS Panel argued (in length) otherwise. It agreed that the “EU and EEA-rule” merely stipulates a criterion of territoriality not nationality.[33] Still, it also noted that the FIFA’s RSTP commentary (as abovementioned) revealed that this exception was included in the 2001 informal agreement between FIFA/UEFA and the Commission in order for it to respect EU free movement law.[34] Thus, this objective to comply with EU free movement rights could not be ignored.[35] Additionally the CAS found, in line with FC Midtjylland, that the list of exceptions in Article 19(2) is not exhaustive.[36] This was supported by a document submitted by Girondins de Bordeaux setting out the case law of the PSC sub-committee. It explained that “if a club believes that very special circumstances, which do not meet any of the exceptions provided…the association of the club concerned may, on behalf of its affiliate, submit a formal request in writing to the FIFA sub-commission to consider the specific case and make a formal decision”.[37] Moreover, the document showed that the sub-committee in the majority of cases takes free movement law into consideration when “assessing the transfer of a player who, with a passport from an EU or EEA country, wishes to register with a club in an EU or EEA country”.[38] Consequently, the Panel accepted an unwritten exception allowing a player such as Vada, with the nationality of one of the EU or EEA member countries, to invoke Article 19(2)(b) RSTP.[39] 

The Spanish lawbreakers

From 2013 onwards the three biggest and richest football clubs in Spain, at the same time belonging to the top 15 clubs worldwide, Atlético Madrid, Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, found themselves embroiled in a number of legal disputes as a result of signing minors.[40] A significant step unto its own, as it demonstrates that FIFA will not shy away from taking on the big iconic clubs when enforcing its regulations.

This “Spanish saga” kicked-off with a dispute concerning a US teenager, of 13 years old, who moved to Spain together with his parents and wanted to register with Atlético Madrid in September 2012.[41] Once more, the main question was whether the factual constellation of the case supported the application of the “parents-rule” (did the parents move to the country of the new club for reasons not linked to football?), and again the Panel stressed, in line with both Acuña and FC Midtjylland,[42] the need to apply the protection of minors rules in a “strict, rigorous and consistent manner”.[43] This means, following its decision in Vada I, that the family’s move must be unconnected altogether to football.[44] It is insufficient to establish that the move is partially connected to their child’s football activities, although not being the primary aim.[45] The Panel’s factual assessment distinguished multiple relevant elements to come to a decision on the possible application of the exception. Contra: the short timeline (six weeks) between the minor’s arrival in Madrid and the registration request (which hints at a previous intention); the player’s previous footballing activities; the player’s statement, reported on his school’s official website, “that the reason of his move to Spain was the possibility that he has been given to play with the Club Atlético de Madrid”.[46] Pro: the family of the player is partially Colombian, which connected them to Spain for reasons of culture and language; “The family is wealthy and…the basic maintenance of the family is not dependent of a working activity of the parents”; The player’s sister had already moved to Europe for her studies; The first preparations were undoubtedly made several months before the interaction with the club commenced; The club does not have a particular interest in the player “other than having in its team a teenager which may have a certain talent for football, such as many others in the Madrid area”.[47] In sum, the CAS concluded that, due to the exceptional facts, there is no link between the move of the family and their son’s football activities.[48]

The FC Barcelona case

Atlético’s fellow-townsman Real Madrid ended up in a likewise dispute with FIFA regarding a 13-year-old player from Venezuela.[49] The main hitter however was the case regarding their Catalonian archenemy: FC Barcelona.[50] The FIFA TMS, in January 2013, became aware of a potential breach, which ultimately lead to a case involving registrations of 31 minors.[51] These players, of various nationalities, were registered at FC Barcelona in the period from 2005 until 2012.[52] Via the FIFA Disciplinary Committee and Appeal Committee, who both found the club to have violated i.a. Articles 19(1), 19(3), 19(4), 19bis, and Annexe 2 of the RSTP, the case ended up before the CAS.[53] The Panel addressed the different potentially breached articles in a consecutive order, starting with Article 19(1) RSTP. The Panel found FC Barcelona to have infringed this provision with respect to nine players. The club had tried to shelter behind the fact that it had complied with all the rules laid down by the regional Catalonian football association, and, as such, had acted rightfully. The Panel held instead that the ban on internationally transferring minors is without doubt “addressed to both ‘associations’ and clubs”.[54] It thereby emphasized that national associations are paramount to the enforcement of FIFA’s statutes, and in the extent thereof the enforcement of the RSTP. Regional associations, such as the Catalonian, cannot govern the international transfer of players.[55] Given that clubs are the starting point of every international transfer, they “must primarily observe this ban”. The Panel stressed furthermore that Article 19(4) RSTP marks this by obliging the associations to ensure the clubs’ compliance in this matter, and moreover, Article 1(4) RSTP, explains that the Regulations “are binding for all associations and clubs”.[56] FC Barcelona may thus not hide behind apparent mistakes/breaches by both the Catalonian and the Spanish football associations, given that it “did not even try to request the transfers based on any one of the exceptions”.[57] Furthermore, FC Barcelona “should have been aware of the simple fact that they [the Spanish and the Catalonian associations] could not register the minors in any legitimate way under the RSTP”, which the CAS compared to “wilful ignorance” or, the “deliberate shutting of eyes”.[58]

Of the group of minors at the centre of the dispute, three were below the age of 12. FC Barcelona put forward a restrictive reading of the personal scope of application of the Articles 19 and 9(4) RSTP (2010 edition), arguing “that there are no prohibitions for the transfer of players under the age of 12”.[59] It thereby relied on Article 9 of the 2006 RSTP Commentary that stipulates “for players younger than 12, the Regulations do not provide for an obligation to issue an ITC for international transfers”.[60] The Panel nonetheless made short work of this argumentation by explaining that Article 9(4) RSTP’s absence of an obligation to issue an ITC for under-12 players merely addresses a formal requirement. The substantive rules for the international transfer of minors (irrespective whether below or above 12 years of age) are found in Article 19 RSTP, including paragraph 2 of that article.[61] This led the Panel to conclude that “no ITC was required when the transfers occurred for players below the age of 12; their transfer nevertheless, can only be lawful if it complies with the requirements embedded in Article 19(2) RSTP”.[62] The Panel also noted the amendment to Article 9(4) RSTP, effective as of 1 March 2015, which lowered the age at which an ITC is required from 12 to 10.[63]

In short, the CAS also ruled that FC Barcelona had violated Article 19(3) RSTP in relation to one minor, for the same reasons referred to in its findings under Article 19(1) RSTP.[64] Moreover, six cases violated Article 19(4) RSTP, as the Catalonian association had failed to refer these transfers to the PSC sub-committee. These infringements of paragraph 4 further justify that “sanctions may also be imposed (…) on the clubs that reached an agreement for the transfer of a minor”. The CAS in this regard defined the interpretation of the word “agreement” to include “agreements concluded between the registering club and the player himself, his parents, agents, etc”.[65] Further, the Panel established a breach of Article 19bis RSTP for all 31 players under investigation.[66] This constitutes a procedural violation, being “the lack of reporting of information regarding the progress and development of players” attending FC Barcelona’s well-known academy ‘La Masía’”.[67] Be that as it may, the CAS did praise the training and educational track record of La Masía. Thereby it deviated from the Appeal Committee’s ruling. In opposition to the latter it found that the attending players’ potential football careers are not endangered. On the contrary, if FC Barcelona in the future commits itself to its reporting duties under Article 19bis RSTP, then it “will be contributing to the overarching principles governing the protection of minors, since it will be providing other clubs with an enviable benchmark for the education and training of players”.[68] The CAS Panel found the sanctions imposed by the FIFA Disciplinary Committee and the Appeal Committee to be proportionate, and hence confirmed the earlier verdict.[69] Concretely, FC Barcelona was imposed a transfer ban for two transfer periods, as well as a fine of CHF 450,000.[70]

The RFEF case and latest developments

Things had not completely settled down yet with regard to the Spanish national football association: Real Federación Española de Fútbol (“RFEF”).[71] As has become clear in the coverage of the Barcelona case, apparent mistakes were made in the Spanish supervision of the ban on international transfers of minors. In a dispute regarding 31 international minor transfers to several Spanish football clubs[72], the RFEF was found by the CAS to have violated its guarding role and thereby induced a passive infringement of Articles 19(1), 19(3), 19(4) together with Annexes 2 and 3, and Articles 5(1) and 9(1) RSTP. [73] A fine of CHF 280,000 was imposed. The Panel pointed out that the RFEF could not justify its failure by arguing that the RSTP was conflicting with Spanish law, given that the rules on the protection of minors had come about in the 2001 agreement between FIFA/UEFA and the EU, which was acknowledged by Spain as a Member State of the EU.[74] Also, for 21 players below the age of 12 the RFEF had failed to fulfil its notification obligations, which the Panel condemned for the exact same reasons as in the FC Barcelona case.[75] The RFEF had failed to “make use of the statutory frameworks and tools at its disposal to ensure the full protection of minors”, and was found negligent as it failed to ensure that clubs and regional associations strictly complied with Article 19.[76] Furthermore, it had in some cases not fulfilled its obligation to seek the approval of the PSC subcommittee nor even submitted an application for such transfers.[77]

Ultimately in 2016, a fate similar to that of “Barça” fell upon both Atlético and Real Madrid.[78] The concise FIFA press release indicates that investigations were conducted by FIFA TMS, which “concerned minor players who were involved and participated in competitions with the clubs over various periods”, between roughly 2005 and 2014. Both clubs were sanctioned for violating, amongst others, Articles 19 and 19bis as well as annexe 2 of the RSTP. The clubs appealed (by which the sanctions were temporarily lifted), yet in September 2016 these appeals were similarly rejected by FIFA’s Appeal Committee.[79] This meant that Atlético Madrid and Real Madrid will have to serve a transfer ban lasting two consecutive transfer periods (e.g. until January 2018), during which they will not be able to attract any players, and were fined CHF 900,000 and CHF 360,000 respectively. The clubs were given a 90 day period “to regularise the situation of all minor players concerned”.[80] A little over a week later, Real Madrid informed the CAS that it would appeal FIFA’s decision before the court in Lausanne.[81] The final outcome of this appeal is still unknown.

In a similar vein, very recently, the English club Manchester City has come under suspicion for allegedly wanting to transfer a 15-year-old player from Argentina, while the Dutch club Ajax was denied by the CAS to sign an American player aged 15.[82] These cases exemplify that clubs might just not be ready to put the practice of internationally transferring minors to bed yet. Moreover, the adaptation of the relevant rules is a sign for the need of continuous monitoring the effect of the provision on the protection of minors. The latest update, the June 2016 version, has incorporated another exception to the prohibition for the international transfer of minors, which has been created through the Sub-Committee’s case law.[83] Players that have for the five years preceding the request continuously lived in the country (other than that of their nationality) of intended registration are now exempted from the prohibition.[84]

In this part 2 of the blog, I have shown that FIFA’s restrictions on minor transfers have become more stringent after the 2009 reform. In recent years, FIFA has also cracked down on various prominent clubs, especially in Spain, which were still involved in recruiting minor players while disregarding, with the tacit support of their national federation, FIFA’s rules. Unsurprisingly, these developments have also flared up again the debate on the compatibility of those rules with EU law.[85] Thus, the next, third and final, part of this blog on FIFA’s provision on the protection of minors will offer a substantive assessment of FIFA’s rule under the requirements of EU Internal Market law. 

[1] A. Najarian, “’The Lost Boys’: FIFA's Insufficient Efforts To Stop Trafficking of Youth Footballers”, Sports Law. J. 2015, p. 167; R. Simons, “Protection of Minors vs. European Law”, Eur Sports Law Bulletin 2010, p. 172.

[2] R. Simons, “FIFA Transfer Matching System wel effectief?”, TvS&R 2011, p. 100.

[3] FIFA Circular no. 1190, 20 May 2009.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Art. 19(4) FIFA RTSP 2009.

[6] FIFA Circular no. 1206, 13 October 2009.

[7] FIFA Circular 1209, 30 October 2009.

[8] Art. 19bis FIFA RSTP 2009.

[9] Definition 12 FIFA RSTP 2009.

[10] Art. 19bis(1) and (2) FIFA RSTP 2009; Supra at 5.

[11] V. Derungs, “Protecting underage football players in the transfer system”, World Sports L. Report 2015, p. 15.

[12] Definition 13 FIFA RSTP 2016.

[13] N. St. Cyr Clarke, “The beauty and the beast: Taming the ugly side of the people’s game”, 2011 Columbia Journal of European Law, p. 619.

[14] FIFA Circular No. 1174, 12 January 2009.

[15] Annexe 2 FIFA RSTP 2016

[16] Art. 3(2) Annexe 2 FIFA RSTP 2009.

[17] Art. 5(1) Annexe 2 FIFA RSTP 2009.

[18] Art. 5(2) Annexe 2 FIFA RSTP 2009.

[19] FIFA Document, Protection of minors – Pertinent facts to be included in documents.

[20] Art. 9 and Annexe 3 FIFA RSTP 2009.

[21] For precise steps see FIFA TMS, Global Transfer Market Report 2016, p. 8; Supra at 4, p. 101.

[22] FIFA, Transfers, Player’s status, Clubs, Agents Regulations - Archived regulations

[23] Arbitration CAS 2011/A/2354 E. v. Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), award of 24 August 2011: At the same time, he participated in a three-year educational/trainee program at a company in Frankfurt, which aimed “to prepare him as office clerk to apply for a job as ‘Airport Manager’”. The German national football association, on behalf of Muhic and Kickers Offenbach made a request to FIFA for an exception via a special authorization for the transfer, founded on the “hardship based on the specific circumstances of the present case, namely the move of the player from Bosnia and Herzegovina to Germany without his parents, but with their expressed consent, for reasons not linked to football but to benefit from a humanitarian educational project” (p. 2.).

[24] Ibid, para. 17.

[25] Ibid, para. 18.

[26] Ibid, para. 18 and p. 2; Furthermore, the Panel recalled that Bosnia and Herzegovina is neither a member of the EU nor of the EEA and, as a consequence thereof, a player with this nationality cannot rely on the exception of Article 19(2)(b) RSTP (para. 20). The Panel subsequently, by emphasizing that the rationale for this exception is the “free movement of services and services suppliers within the EU and the EEA (and other production factors)”, quickly dismissed the appellant’s claim for the application of this provision resting on “the Stabilization and Association Agreement signed between the EU and Bosnia and Herzegovina” (paras. 21-23). In final, the CAS once more indicated that Article 19’s rationale was not to stop voluntary movement, yet it felt compelled to apply the protection of minors strictly: “Opening up the door to exceptions beyond those carefully drafted and included in the present text would unavoidably lead to cases of circumvention of the rationale for this provision” (para. 26). Moreover, Muhic could still continue his education, which was his primary reason to move to Germany, and likewise train with his team. He did have to wait a few months before becoming 18 years of age and thus eligible to start in professional matches. Nevertheless, the Panel concluded that this could not amount to constitute an “exceptional hardship going beyond the general impact of the provisions on the protection of minors” (para. 27).

[27] Supra at 11, p. 15.

[28] Arbitrage TAS 2012/A/2862 FC Girondins de Bordeaux c. Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), sentence du 11 janvier 2013 (Vada II); Arbitrage TAS 2011/A/2494 FC Girondins de Bordeaux c. Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), sentence du 22 décembre 2011 (Vada I).

[29] TAS 2012/A/2862 (Vada II), para. 3.

[30] Ibid, para. 18.

[31] Ibid, para. 19.

[32] Ibid, para. 19; Bulletin TAS CAS Bulletin 2014/2, p. 29.

[33] Supra at 29, para. 91.

[34] Ibid, para. 94.

[35] Ibid, para. 95.

[36] CAS 2008/A/1485 FC Midtjylland A/S v. Féderation Internationale de Football Association, paras. 19-21.

[37] Supra at 29, para. 96; Bulletin TAS CAS Bulletin 2014/2, p. 29.

[38] Supra at 29, para. 97.

[39] Ibid, paras. 98-100.                                                                                                                                                                  

[40] The Guardian, 29 April 2015, “Atlético Madrid and Real deny reports they are facing Fifa transfer embargo”.

[41] Arbitration CAS 2013/A/3140 A. v. Club Atlético de Madrid SAD & Real Federación Española de Fútbol (RFEF) & Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), award of 10 October 2013.

[42] CAS 2005/A/955 Càdiz C.F., SAD v FIFA and Asociación Paraguaya de Fútbol and CAS 2005/A/956 Carlos Javier Acuña Caballero v/FIFA and Asociación Paraguaya de Fútbol; CAS 2008/A/1485 FC Midtjylland A/S v. Féderation Internationale de Football Association.

[43] Supra at 41, paras. 8.20-8.23.

[44] TAS 2011/A/2494 FC (Vada I), paras. 31-38.

[45] Supra at 41, paras. 8.25.

[46] Ibid, para. 8.30.

[47] Ibid, para. 8.31.

[48] Ibid, paras. 8.32-36.

[49] Arbitration CAS 2014/A/3611 Real Madrid FC v. Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), award of 27 February 2015: The PSC Sub-Committee had rejected the request, which was again founded on the “parent rule”. It did so inter alia since the player’s parents had merely obtained a temporary residence permit that denied them the right to work, while the submitted employment contracts “made reference to enterprises incorporated and domiciled in Venezuela” (para. 11). This in combination with the fact that the player had moved to Spain one month in advance of his parents, led the PSC to believe that their move was linked to Real Madrid’s interest in their son (paras. 12-14). The subsequent proceedings before the CAS are only of interest in relation to the procedural aspects, since the appeal was declared inadmissible and consequently did not address the merits (paras. 63-66).

[50] CAS 2014/A/3793 Fútbol Club Barcelona v. Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), award of 24 April 2015.

[51] Bulletin TAS CAS Bulletin 2015/2, p. 76; Supra at 52, paras. 2.3-2.11.

[52] Supra at 50, para. 2.2.

[53] Supra at 51, p. 77.

[54] Supra at 50, paras. 9.1-9.2.

[55] Ibid, paras. 9.2-9.3.

[56] Ibid, para. 9.4.

[57] Ibid.

[58] Ibid.

[59] Ibid, para. 9.7.

[60] Ibid.

[61] Ibid, para. 9.8.

[62] Ibid.

[63] Ibid, para. 9.9.

[64] Ibid, paras. 9.10-9.12.

[65] Ibid, para. 9.14.

[66] Ibid, para. 9.18.

[67] Ibid, para. 9.19.

[68] Ibid.

[69] Ibid, paras. 9.29-9.36 and 10.

[70] Ibid, para. 2.18.

[71] CAS 2014/A/3813 Real Federación Española de Fútbol (RFEF) v. Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), 27 November 2015.

[72] Coincidentally the exact same number of minors under investigation as in the FC Barcelona Case. Be that as it may, in the case a hand the minors transferred to various Spanish clubs.

[73] Bulletin TAS CAS Bulletin 2016/1. P. 66.

[74] Ibid, p. 63, the Panel stated “As a member of the European Union, the Kingdom of Spain had acknowledged the application of this general prohibition throughout Spain and no express Spanish law stating otherwise had been brought to the Panel’s attention”.

[75] Supra at 73, p. 63.

[76] Ibid, p. 64.

[77] Ibid.

[78] FIFA, 14 January 2016, “Atlético de Madrid and Real Madrid sanctioned for international transfers of minors”.

[79] FIFA, 8 September 2016, “FIFA rejects appeals of Atlético de Madrid and Real Madrid in relation to transfers of minors”.

[80] The Guardian, 8 September 2016, “Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid lose appeals against Fifa transfer ban”.

[81] CAS, 16 September, “Request for stay filed by Real Madrid CF granted by the Court of Arbitration for Sport”.

[82] Independent, 22 September 2016, “Manchester City could face transfer ban after being reported to Fifa for 'trafficking' of youngster”; USA Today, 29 October 2016, “CAS rejects US teenager’s challenge to FIFA transfer rules”.

[83] Supra at 11, p. 15; FIFA Circular no. 1542, 1 June 2016.

[84] Art. 19(3) FIFA RSTP 2016.

[85] Reuters, 24 November 2016, “FIFA faces lawsuit over rules banning transfer of minors”.

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