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International and European Sports Law – Monthly Report – March 2016. By Marine Montejo

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. 

Marine Montejo is a graduate from the College of Europe in Bruges and is currently an Intern at the ASSER International Sports Law Centre.

The Headlines

The Belgian Court of Appeal released its judgment this month regarding Doyen’s legal battle against the FIFA TPO ban. The Appeal Court confirmed the first instance decision and ruled out any provisional measures to block the ban’s implementation (for an in depth review, see our blog post). More importantly, the Court reaffirmed that Swiss based sport federations are liable in front of EU Members’ States courts when EU competition law is involved. That means the next important step for this legal battle is whether or not the European Commission is going to open a formal proceeding (Doyen already lodged a complaint) to assess the compatibility, and more importantly, the proportionality of the TPO ban with EU law. Only a preliminary ruling by the CJEU could hasten the decision if one of the European national courts, hearing a case brought by Doyen (France or Belgium), decided to refer a preliminary question.

Alongside these legal debates, FIFA continues to pursue breaches of the ban on third-party influence and/or third-party ownership of players’ economic rights. Its Disciplinary Committee sanctioned several clubs in that regard but one in particular is having a hard time. The Dutch club, FC Twente, was fined CHF185 000, but decided not to appeal the decision. That sanction is the latest to plague the club, which is struggling with the fallout from its ties with Doyen. Four members of the Board of Directors were forced to resign after the publication of a critical governance report and are now facing charges in relation to their liability for the financial situation.

The newly elected president of FIFA, Gianni Infantino, announced his intention to reform and rebuild FIFA in his first speech after the presidential bid. Since several FIFA officials were arrested on corruption charges in Zurich before its Extraordinary Congress back in May 2015, the FIFA defence has remained the same, focusing on clearing the institution of any wrongdoing and blaming the confederations involved (CONMEBOL and CONCACAF). Suffice to say that the request for restitution FIFA has filed with US authorities after US prosecutors seized millions of dollars during corruption probes surprised everyone. For the first time, FIFA acknowledged bribes were paid to members of the Executive Committee in the selection of the 1998 and 2010 World Cups. In its bid to reclaim the money paid to its corrupt officials and subsequently seized, FIFA has also stated that the actions of these officials have deeply tarnished the FIFA brand and its reputation. This change of strategy from FIFA is likewise apparent in the Investigatory chamber of the independent Ethics Committee’s decision to open formal proceedings regarding the awarding of the 2006 FIFA World Cup to Germany.

That decision resonated with the German football federation which released the long awaited Freshfield report on the scandal surrounding alleged votes buying for the 2006 World Cup bid awarded to Germany. The law firm has found no evidence of wrongdoing, but because files and information are still missing, it cannot completely rule out any vote buying. On another note, the pressure on the DFB is still very high as the German competition authority decided to open formal proceedings on the ticket sales for the Euro 2016. The cartel office is looking into the DFB’s decision to make the purchase of Euro 2016 tickets for German nationals dependent on each individual first being a (paid) member of the national team’s fan club.

Michel Platini and Joseph S. Blatter have filed their appeals at CAS against their six year bans from taking part in any football-related activities at both the national and international level. They both were first sentenced with an eight year ban by the Adjudicatory Chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee for several breaches of the FIFA ethics code. This sanction was later reduced by the FIFA Appeal Committee (you can read the first decision here, and the appeal one here).

As per usual these days, doping scandals continue to make headlines. After Maria Sharapova’s confession that she tested positive to the banned substance meldonium (see this article by the Guardian on this particular substance), the Russian Sports Minister said that a total of 27 sportsman and sportswomen had tested positive to date. The Times, for its part, revealed a systemic doping program in Russian swimming, forcing WADA to issue a statement clarifying that it was looking into it along with FINA. All of these revelations probably led the Russian parliament to try to introduce criminal liability for inciting individuals to use banned substances, while WADA reaffirmed that it was against such a criminal offence 

Case law

Advocate general Whatelet released an opinion calling for stricter EU competition law control of arbitral awards. The decision of the Court on this particular case could be important for CAS award. The AG stated that the task of arbitrators in international commercial arbitration is to interpret and apply the contract binding the parties correctly. In the performance of this task, arbitrators may naturally find it necessary to apply EU law, if it forms part of the law applicable to the contract or the law applicable to the arbitration. However, the responsibility for reviewing compliance with European public policy rules lies with the courts of the Member States and not with arbitrators. As a consequence, one or more parties to agreements which might be regarded as anticompetitive cannot put these agreements beyond the reach of review under Articles 101 TFEU and 102 TFEU by resorting to arbitration (pt.61 and 72). 

Official Documents and Press Releases

In the news

U.S. College Sport







Academic materials

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