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

Call for papers - Third Annual International Sports Law Conference of the International Sports Law Journal - 24 and 25 October 2019 - Asser Institute

The Editors of the International Sports Law Journal (ISLJ) invite you to submit abstracts for the third ISLJ Annual Conference on International Sports Law, which will take place on 24 and 25 October 2019 at the Asser Institute in The Hague. The ISLJ, published by Springer and Asser Press, is the leading academic publication in the field of international sports law. The conference is a unique occasion to discuss the main legal issues affecting international sports with renowned academic experts and practitioners.


We are delighted to announce the following confirmed keynote speakers:


  • Beckie Scott (Chair of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Athlete Committee, Olympic Champion, former member of the WADA Executive Committee and the International Olympic Committee (IOC)),
  • Ulrich Haas (Professor of Law at Univerzität Zürich, CAS arbitrator), and
  • Kimberly Morris (Head of FIFA Transfer Matching System (TMS) Integrity and Compliance).


We welcome abstracts from academics and practitioners on any question related to international sports law. We also welcome panel proposals (including a minimum of three presenters) on a specific issue. For this year’s edition, we specifically invite submissions on the following themes:


  • The role of athletes in the governance of international sports
  • The evolution of sports arbitration, including the Court of Arbitration for Sport
  •  The role and functioning of the FIFA transfer system, including the FIFA TMS
  •  The intersection between criminal law and international sports (in particular issues of corruption, match-fixing, human trafficking, tax evasion)
  • Hooliganism
  • Protection of minor athletes
  • Civil and criminal liability relating to injuries in sports


Please send your abstract of 300 words and CV no later than 30 April 2019 to a.duval@asser.nl. Selected speakers will be informed by 15 May.


The selected participants will be expected to submit a draft paper by 1 September 2019. All papers presented at the conference are eligible (subjected to peer-review) for publication in a special issue of the ISLJ.  To be considered for inclusion in the conference issue of the journal, the final draft must be submitted for review by 15 December 2019.  Submissions after this date will be considered for publication in later editions of the Journal.


The Asser Institute will cover one night accommodation for the speakers and will provide a limited amount of travel grants (max. 250€). If you wish to be considered for a grant please indicate it in your submission. 

Supporters of the ISLJ Annual International Sports Law Conference 2018: Altius

Editor's note: In the coming days we will introduce the supporters of our upcoming ISLJ Annual International Sports Law Conference 2018 (also known as #ISLJConf18). To do so, we have sent them a tailored questionnaire aimed at reflecting both their activities and their expectations for the conference. It is a good opportunity for us to thank them for their enthusiastic support and commitment to international sports law research. We are very happy to finish this series of interviews with Sven Demeulemeester from Altius, a Belgian law firm based in Brussels with a very fine (and academically-minded!) sports law team. 


1. Can you explain to our readers the work of Altius in international sports law? 

Across different sports’ sectors, Altius’ sports law practice advises and assists some of the world’s most high-profile sports governing bodies, clubs and athletes, at both the national and the international level. The team has 6 fully-dedicated sports lawyers and adopts a multi-disciplinary approach, which guarantees a broad range of legal expertise for handling specific cases or wider issues related to the sports industry. We are proud to be independent but, in cross-border matters, are able to tap into a worldwide network.

2. How is it to be an international sports lawyer? What are the advantages and challenges of the job? 

Sports law goes beyond one specific field of law. The multiplicity of legal angles keeps the work interesting, even after years of practising, and ensures that a sports lawyer rarely has a dull moment. The main downside is that the sports industry is fairly conservative and sometimes ‘political’. While the law is one thing, what happens in practice is often another. Bringing about change is not always easy. 

3. What are the burning issues in international sports law that you would like to see discussed at the conference? 

 The much-anticipated overhaul of the football transfer system is eagerly anticipated and is worth a thorough debate, also in terms of possible, viable alternatives. The impact of EU law - both internal market rules, competition law and fundamental rights – can hardly be underestimated. Also, dispute resolution mechanisms within the realm of sports - and an accessible, transparent, independent and impartial sports arbitration in particular - will remain a ‘hot’ topic in the sector for years to come. Furthermore, ethics and integrity issues should remain top of the agenda, as is being demonstrated by the current money-laundering and match-fixing allegations in Belgium. Finally, in a sector in which the use of data is rife, the newly-adopted GDPR’s impact remains somewhat ‘under the radar’.

4. Why did you decide to support the ISLJ Annual International Sports Law Conference? 

The ISLJ Annual International Sports Law Conference is refreshing, both in terms of its topics and participants. The academic and content-driven approach is a welcome addition to other sports law conferences in which the networking aspect often predominates.

Call for papers: Annual International Sports Law Conference of the International Sports Law Journal - 25 & 26 October - Asser Institute, The Hague

 Call for papers: Annual International Sports Law Conference of the International Sports Law Journal

Asser Institute, The Hague

25 and 26 October 2018

The editorial board of the International Sports Law Journal (ISLJ) is inviting you to submit abstracts for its second ISLJ Annual Conference on International Sports Law, which will take place on 25 and 26 October at the Asser Institute in The Hague. The ISLJ published by Springer in collaboration with Asser Press is the leading academic publication in the field of international sports law. Its readership includes academics and many practitioners active in the field. This call is open to researchers as well as practitioners. 

We are also delighted to announce that Prof. Franck Latty (Université Paris Nanterre), Prof. Margareta Baddeley (Université de Genève), and Silvia Schenk (member of FIFA’s Human Rights Advisory Board) have confirmed their participation as keynote speakers.

Abstracts could, for example, tackle questions linked to the following international sports law subjects:

  • The interaction between EU law and sport
  • Antitrust and sports regulation
  • International sports arbitration (CAS, BAT, etc.)
  • The functioning of the world anti-doping system (WADA, WADC, etc.)
  • The global governance of sports
  • The regulation of mega sporting events (Olympics, FIFA World Cup, etc.)
  • The transnational regulation of football (e.g. the operation of the FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players or the UEFA Financial Fair Play Regulations)
  • The global fight against corruption in sport  
  • Comparative sports law
  • Human rights in sport 

Please send your abstract (no more than 300 words) and CV no later than 30 April 2018 to a.duval@asser.nl. Selected speakers will be informed by 15 May.

The selected participants will be expected to submit a draft paper by 1 September 2018. All papers presented at the conference are eligible for publication in a special edition of the ISLJ.  To be considered for inclusion in the conference edition of the journal, the final draft must be submitted for review by 15 December 2018.  Submissions after this date will be considered for publication in later editions of the Journal.

The Asser Institute will cover one night accommodation for the speakers and will provide a limited amount of travel grants (max. 300€). If you wish to be considered for a grant please justify your request in your submission. 

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

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

International and European Sports Law – Monthly Report – July and August 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.

 

The Headlines

ISLJ Annual Conference on International Sports Law 

On 26 and 27 October 2017, the T.M.C. Asser Institute in The Hague will host the first ever ISLJ Annual International Sports Law Conference. This year's edition will feature panels on the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the world anti-doping system, the FIFA transfer regulations, human rights and sports, the labour rights of athletes, and EU law and sport. We will also welcome the following distinguished keynote speakers:

  • Miguel Maduro, former Advocate General at the European Court of Justice and former head of the FIFA's Governance Committee;
  • Michael Beloff QC, English barrister known as one of the 'Godfathers' of sports law;
  • Stephen Weatherill, Professor at Oxford University and a scholarly authority on EU law and sport;
  • Richard McLaren, CAS Arbitrator, sports law scholar and former head of the World Anti-Doping Agency's investigation into the Russian doping scandal.

You will find all the necessary information related to the conference here. Do not forget to register as soon as possible if you want to secure a place on the international sports law pitch! [Please note that we have a limited amount of seats available, which will be attributed on a 'first come, first served' basis.] 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...

Asser International Sports Law Blog | International transfers of minors: The sword of Damocles over FC Barcelona’s head? by Giandonato Marino and Oskar van Maren

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 transfers of minors: The sword of Damocles over FC Barcelona’s head? by Giandonato Marino and Oskar van Maren

In the same week that saw Europe’s best eight teams compete in the Champions League quarter finals, one of its competitors received such a severe disciplinary sanction by FIFA that it could see its status as one of the world’s top teams jeopardized. FC Barcelona, a club that owes its success both at a national and international level for a large part to its outstanding youth academy, La Masia, got to FIFA’s attention for breaching FIFA Regulations on international transfers of minors.  Unfortunately, at the moment FIFA has not published the decision of the Disciplinary Committee on this case, therefore our analysis is mainly based on the two official statements of FIFA and FC Barcelona.

When FC Barcelona signed the 13 years-old South Korean Lee Sung Woo, in 2011, they thought they found the “new Lionel Messi”. Little did they know that this under-aged Korean football player was to be one of the sources of the legal trouble they are in now. On 5 february, 2013, the Club received the request from FIFA via the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) to provide information concerning the registration of Lee. Over the course of 2013, FIFA further asked FC Barcelona for additional information on other players. By December 2013, FC Barcelona provided FIFA information on a total of 37 minors.

According to FIFA’s official statement FC Barcelona has been found to be in breach of art.19 of the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players (hereinafter “the Regulations”). In this regard, special attention was focused on ten minors signed between the years 2009 and 2013, including the abovementioned Lee. According to article 19 of the Regulations, international transfers of players are only permitted if the player is over the age of 18, or 16 if the player is transferred within the territory of the European Union[1]. Also according to FIFA, the RFEF has been found to have breached the same article 19 of the Regulations in the context of the transfer and registration of certain minor players. Indeed, the Regulations oblige the National Federations to enforce these provisions on national football clubs.

For a normal international transfer procedure, the Regulations impose to clubs and Federations the use of the web-based Transfer Matching System (hereinafter “the TMS”) since 2009.  The TMS ensures that all international transfers are conducted in line with the FIFA rules, thereby controlling the integrity of both clubs and Federations involved. In other words, the club willing to register a new player informs its National Federation of the transfer, who in turn informs TMS, in order for the new player to be registered in his new Federation. As regards the case at hands, the exact details of the used procedure are unknown. However, one could suspect that FC Barcelona deviated from the “usual” procedure and decided to register the minors with the Catalan Federation instead. This means that, at a certain point, the Catalan Federation had to inform the National one. According to the RFEF Secretary General, the Spanish National Federation actually refused to register the concerned minors, but the Catalan Federation proceeded anyway. This alternative registering procedure is by no means contrary to TMS, but does increase the risk for “bureaucratic mistakes”. This case highlights the difficulty in identifying a responsible party. Despite the fact that FC Barcelona, RFEF and the Catalan Federation have a shared responsibility in the administrative mess-up leading to this procedure, FIFA only sanctioned the first two.

FIFA has been clear regarding the disciplinary sanctions: in accordance with article 23 of FIFA Disciplinary Code, FC Barcelona is imposed a ban to register new players for two complete and consecutive transfer periods (summer 2014 and January 2015). Moreover, the Club received a fine of CHF 450,000 and a deadline of 90 days in which to regularise the position of all minors concerned. The RFEF, for its part, received a fine of CHF 500,000 plus a deadline of one year in order to regularise their regulatory framework on this issue. With a turnover of more than 400 million Euro per year, it is unlikely that the Club is seriously worried about the fine. However, the transfer ban places the FC Barcelona in a very unpleasant situation. The first team is in need of certain important replacements, such as a new goalkeeper and a central defender, after both Víctor Valdés and Carles Puyol announced their departure this upcoming summer. Furthermore, it remains unclear what will happen with the promised signings of the German goalkeeper Marc-André Ter Stegen and the Croatian talent Alen Halilović.

FC Barcelona announced in its aforementioned official statement, that it will be appealing to the FIFA Appeal Committee and, if necessary, further appeal to CAS. Furthermore, the Club will demand for provisional measures in order to register new players during the next transfer window at least. Meanwhile, the RFEF is yet to give a detailed statement on its future legal strategy.

The fact that FIFA sanctions one of the biggest and renowned football clubs in the world in an unprecedented way demonstrates that they take this issue seriously, no matter how big the club in question is. The rules on minors is made to protect the best interest of the child. FIFA argues that the interest in protecting the appropriate and healthy development of a minor as a whole must prevail over purely sporting interests. This position is also supported by the International Federation of Professional Footballers (FIFPro), who fears that without the proper controls the development of a minor is not adequately protected against exploitation.

Undoubtedly, FC Barcelona will refer to the letter its former President, Sandro Rosell, sent to FIFA in March 2013. In this letter, Rosell argued that to fully safeguard the protection of minors, clubs must ensure the players can benefit from any good opportunity on their reach. In this regard, Rosell asked FIFA to consider a further exception on article 19 in favour of the clubs that have developed excellent Youth Academies. This would mean that certain clubs should be allowed to register minors regardless of their origin as long as the clubs compromise to take care of the minor until his 18th birthday.

This could be a valid argument but would require FIFA Regulations to be modified. With regard to provisional measures, the Club’s demand is very unlikely to be accepted by the FIFA Appeal Committee, since article 124 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code only permits a suspension of the economical sanction. At CAS, on the other hand, the Club should demonstrate the existence of an irreparable harm, the likelihood of success on the merits of the claim, and whether the interests of the FC Barcelona outweigh those of FIFA[2]. In this regard, FC Barcelona can refer to the Mexès case where CAS temporarily lifted the ban imposed on the Italian football club A.S. Roma[3]. Furthermore, it can also rely on a more recent precedent in this field: the Kakuta case.

Considering the potential impact of the imposed disciplinary sanctions, this legal dispute will be one of the most difficult and challenging games in FC Barcelona’s long history. But make no mistake, this is just the beginning of an exciting legal game…




[1] Article 19 stipulates a few exceptions that provide International transfers of minors to be allowed. In each case, FIFA’s Player’s Status Committee has exclusive competence to review the circumstances and permit the exception.

[2] R37 Provisional and Conservatory Measures – CAS Procedural Rules

[3] Arbitrage TAS 2005/A/916 AS Roma c. Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), §39-40

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