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

RFC Seraing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport: How FIFA’s TPO ban Survived (Again) EU Law Scrutiny

Doyen (aka Doyen Sports Investment Limited) is nothing short of heroic in its fight against FIFA’s TPO ban. It has (sometimes indirectly through RFC Seraing) attacked the ban in front of the French courts, the Belgium courts, the European Commission and the Court of Arbitration for Sport. This costly, and until now fruitless, legal battle has been chronicled in numerous of our blogs (here and here). It is coordinated by Jean-Louis Dupont, a lawyer who is, to say the least, not afraid of fighting the windmills of sport’s private regulators. Yet, this time around he might have hit the limits of his stubbornness and legal ‘maestria’. As illustrated by the most recent decision of the saga, rendered in March by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in a case opposing the Belgium club RFC Seraing (or Seraing) to FIFA. The arguments in favour of the ban might override those against it. At least this is the view espoused by the CAS, and until tested in front of another court (preferably the CJEU) it will remain an influential one. The French text of the CAS award has just been published and I will take the opportunity of having for once an award in my native language to offer a first assessment of the CAS’s reasoning in the case, especially with regard to its application of EU law. More...

The Validity of Unilateral Extension Options in Football – Part 1: A European Legal Mess. By Saverio Spera

Editor’s Note: Saverio Spera is an Italian lawyer and LL.M. graduate in International Business Law at King’s College London. He is currently an intern at the ASSER International Sports Law Centre.

                 

In the football world the use of unilateral extension options (hereafter UEOs) in favour of the clubs is common practice. Clubs in Europe and, especially, South America make extensive use of this type of contractual clauses, since it gives them the exclusive possibility to prolong the employment relationship with players whose contracts are about to come to an end. This option gives to a club the right to extend the duration of a player’s contract for a certain agreed period after its initial expiry, provided that some previously negotiated conditions are met. In particular, these clauses allow clubs to sign young promising players for short-term contracts, in order to ascertain their potential, and then extend the length of their contracts.[1] Here lies the great value of UEOs for clubs: they can let the player go if he is not performing as expected, or unilaterally retain him if he is deemed valuable. Although an indisputably beneficial contractual tool for any football club, these clauses are especially useful to clubs specialized in the development of young players.[2] After the Bosman case, clubs have increasingly used these clauses in order to prevent players from leaving their clubs for free at the end of their contracts.[3] The FIFA Regulations do not contain any provisions regulating this practice, consequently the duty of clarifying the scope and validity of the options lied with the national courts, the FIFA Dispute Resolution Chamber (DRC) and the CAS. This two-part blog will attempt to provide the first general overview on the issue.[4] My first blog will be dedicated to the validity of UEOs clauses in light of national laws and of the jurisprudence of numerous European jurisdictions. In a second blog, I will review the jurisprudence of the DRC and the CAS on this matter. More...

Call for papers: ISLJ Annual Conference on International Sports Law - 26-27 October 2017

The editorial board of the International Sports Law Journal (ISLJ) is very pleased to invite you to submit abstracts for its first Annual Conference on International Sports Law. The ISLJ, published by Springer in collaboration with ASSER Press, is the leading publication in the field of international sports law. Its readership includes both academics and many practitioners active in the field. On 26-27 October 2017, the International Sports Law Centre of the T.M.C. Asser Instituut and the editorial board of the International Sports Law Journal will host in The Hague the first ever ISLJ Annual Conference on International Sports Law. The conference will feature panels on the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the world anti-doping system, the global governance of sports, the FIFA transfer regulations, comparative sports law, and much more.

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International and European Sports Law – Monthly Report – March 2017. 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.

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The legality of surety undertakings in relation to minor football players: the Lokilo case. By Adriaan Wijckmans

Editor's note: Adriaan Wijckmans is an associate specialized in sports law at the Belgium law firm Altius.

In a recent judgment, the Brussels Court of First Instance confirmed the legality of a so-called surety undertaking, i.e. an agreement in which the parents of a minor playing football guarantee that their child will sign a professional contract with a football club as soon as the child reaches the legal age of majority.

This long-awaited ruling was hailed, on the one hand, by clubs as a much needed and eagerly anticipated confirmation of a long-standing practice in Belgian football[1] and, on the other hand, criticised by FIFPro, the international player’s trade union, in a scathing press release. More...



Kosovo at the Court of Arbitration for Sport – Constructing Statehood Through Sport? 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. 


“Serious sport…is war minus the shooting.” – George Orwell

 

In May 2016, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) admitted the Football Federation of Kosovo (Kosovo) as a member. The voting was close, with 28 member federations in favour, 24 opposed, and 2 whose votes were declared invalid. The practical outcome of this decision is that Kosovo would be able participate in the UEFA Euro championship, and that Kosovo teams could qualify for the UEFA Champions’ League or Europa League. More...


International and European Sports Law – Monthly Report – February 2017. 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. More...

FIFA's Responsibility for Human Rights Abuses in Qatar – Part II: The Zurich Court's Ruling - By Tomáš Grell

Editor’s note: Tomáš Grell comes from Slovakia and is currently an LL.M. student in Public International Law at Leiden University. He contributes also to the work of the ASSER International Sports Law Centre as a part-time intern.

This is a follow-up contribution to my previous blog on FIFA's responsibility for human rights abuses in Qatar published last week. Whereas the previous part has examined the lawsuit filed with the Commercial Court of the Canton of Zurich ('Court') jointly by the Dutch trade union FNV, the Bangladeshi Free Trade Union Congress, the Bangladesh Building and Wood Workers Federation and the Bangladeshi citizen Nadim Shariful Alam ('Plaintiffs') against FIFA, this second part will focus on the Court's ruling dated 3 January 2017 ('Ruling').[1]  More...



FIFA's Responsibility for Human Rights Abuses in Qatar - Part I: The Claims Against FIFA - By Tomáš Grell

Editor’s note: Tomáš Grell comes from Slovakia and is currently an LL.M. student in Public International Law at Leiden University. He contributes also to the work of the ASSER International Sports Law Centre as a part-time intern.

On 2 December 2010, the FIFA Executive Committee elected Qatar as host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup ('World Cup'), thereby triggering a wave of controversies which underlined, for the most part, the country's modest size, lack of football history, local climate, disproportionate costs or corruption that accompanied the selection procedure. Furthermore, opponents of the decision to award the World Cup to the tiny oil-rich Gulf country also emphasized the country's negative human rights record.

More than six years later, on 3 January 2017, the Commercial Court of the Canton of Zurich ('Court') dismissed the lawsuit filed against FIFA[1] jointly by the Dutch trade union FNV, the Bangladeshi Free Trade Union Congress, the Bangladesh Building and Wood Workers Federation and the Bangladeshi citizen Nadim Shariful Alam ('Plaintiffs').[2] The Plaintiffs requested the Court to find FIFA responsible for alleged human rights violations of migrant workers in connection with the World Cup in Qatar. Had the Plaintiffs' claims been upheld by the Court, such decision would have had far-reaching consequences on the fate of thousands of migrants, mostly from India, Nepal and Bangladesh, who are currently working on the construction of sporting facilities and other infrastructure associated with organization of the World Cup. More...

Asser International Sports Law Blog | International and European Sports Law – Monthly Report – May 2016. By Marine Montejo

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

International and European Sports Law – Monthly Report – May 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.   


The Headlines

Challenged membership put a lot of emphasis on football federations in May. The Court of Arbitration for Sport (“CAS”) has rendered an award, on 27 April 2016, ordering the FIFA Council to submit the application of the Gibraltar Football Association (GFA) for FIFA membership to the FIFA Congress (the body authorised to admit new members to FIFA). The GFA has sought since 1999 to become a member of UEFA and FIFA. In May 2013, it became a member of the UEFA and went on to seek membership of FIFA. The latter refused to submit the application to its Congress as the conditions for it were (allegedly) not met. The GFA filed an appeal to this decision to CAS which also ordered that the FIFA Congress take all necessary measures to admit the GFA as a full member of FIFA as soon as possible and within the limits of the FIFA Statutes, as it does not have the power to directly award it with FIFA membership. FIFA discussed the matter during its 66th Congress on 12&13 May and finally granted it with  membership, along with Kosovo. Gibraltar had to face an opposition from Spain due to its long-standing dispute over the status of its territory. On another front, following the decision of the UEFA Congress on May 3 to integrate the football federation of Kosovo, the Football Association of Serbia (FSS) has filed an appeal with CAS against the Kosovar membership. UEFA is already looking to integrate Gibraltar and Kosovo to its 2018 World Cup qualification tournament. Kosovo is a self-proclaimed state and not a member of the United Nations. Its national Olympic committee became a full member of the International Olympic Committee in 2014 and is recognized by a number of international sports federations.

The ongoing legal battle between FIBA/FIBA Europe and Euroleague Commercial Assets (“ECA”) is firing around Europe. This time, the Spanish Higher Council for Sports (“Consejo Superior de Deportes” – “CSD”) annulled the agreement between the Spanish basketball league (“ACB”) and the Euroleague because it breaches the rules of the Spanish national basketball federation (“FEB”). Such an agreement is an infringement of the federation jurisdiction to decide on the participation of Spanish basketball clubs to international competitions. The Spanish national team was under the threat of being withdrawing of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and the 2017 EuroBasket by the international federation (“FIBA”) and the European federation (“FIBA Europe”) because of the participation of Spanish professional basketball clubs to the Euroleague. FIBA is battling with Euroleague to impose its own European competition, the Basketball Champions League (recent update on the ongoing disagreements between the two can be found here).

The Spanish competition authority (“CNMC”) published its report on the audiovisual rights’ selling conditions for the Spanish football first and second leagues (“La Liga” and “Segunda División”) and national cup (“Copa del Rey”) until 2019. In April 2015, joint selling of the national football media rights has been imposed in Spain. The Spanish National League has to seek the advice of the competition authority previous to its tender. The main observations of the CNMC is that the penultimate and ultimate La Liga matches day should be broadcast on free-to-air TV. Also, the possibility for pay-TV broadcasters to buy more Copa del Rey matches could be anti-competitive.


Case law

Michel Platini’s suspension from all football-related activities at both national and international level was lowered by the CAS  from six to four years. The former UEFA President was first sentenced with an eight years ban by the Adjudicatory Chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee for several breaches of the FIFA Ethics Code. This sanction was later reduced to a six years suspension by the FIFA Appeal Committee. Michel Platini filed his appeal at CAS which rendered its decision on May, 9. CAS concluded that the employment contract between FIFA and Michel Platini was valid, however, the alleged unpaid part of his salary (CHF 2 millions) was not legitimate and, as such, was an undue advantage in breach of Article 20 of the FIFA Code of Ethics. The arbitral panel also concluded on a conflict of interest in breach of article 19 of the same code. However, CAS only retained these two breaches and did not found him guilty of the others, as a consequence, its six-year suspension was reduced to four years. In particular, CAS highlighted the fact that FIFA knew about this payment in 2011 and only started its investigations in 2015. Michel Platini resigned from the UEFA presidency and announced his intention to appeal the award in front of the Swiss Federal Tribunal. 

CAS released its award on the appeal brought by the Croatian international water polo player Niksa Dobud against FINA Doping panel decision which sanctioned him for failure to submit to a doping test. He was previously sanctioned with a four-year period of ineligibility, the disqualification of the results obtained after 21 March 2015, the date of the attempt to test him and the forfeit of any medals, points and prizes achieved from that date. The panel found him guilty of evading a doping test and confirmed FINA decision.


Official Documents and Press Releases 


In the news

Olympics

Football


Academic materials


Books 


Upcoming Events 

27 & 28 June - Sport & EU 11th annual conference, Institute for European Studies, CEU-San Pablo University, Madrid, Spain 

28 June – LawInSport Networking Drinks, London, UK

6 July - Asser International Sports Law Lecture and Book Launch: Antidoping in the wake of the meldonium cases: How to balance scientific complexity and legal fairness. By Marjolaine Viret, Asser Institute, The Hague, The Netherlands

19 – 21 July - Executive Programme in International Sports Law, Sports Law and Policy Centre, Ravello, Italy

2 & 3 September - International Sport Arbitration 6th Conference CAS & SAV, The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), the Swiss Bar Association (SAV / FSA) and the Swiss Arbitration Association (ASA), Lausanne Switzerland

16 September - The future of the ‘legal autonomy’ of sport, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK


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