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

Can (national or EU) public policy stop CAS awards? By Marco van der Harst (LL.M, PhD Candidate and researcher at the AISLC)


The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) registers approximately 300 cases every year. Recently, the Swiss Federal Supreme Court – which is the sole judicial authority to review arbitral awards rendered in Switzerland – reminded in the Matuzalém Case (Case 4A_558/2011) that CAS awards may be enforced in other States that are parties to the New York Convention on the recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitral awards.More...

Chess and Doping: Two ships passing in the Night? By Salomeja Zaksaite, Postdoctoral researcher at Mykolas Romeris University (Lithuania), and Woman International Chess Master (WIM)

It may come as a surprise to laymen, but chess players are subjected to doping testing. Naturally, then, the questions follow as to why they are tested, and if they are really tested (at least, with a level of scrutiny comparable to that which physically-oriented athletes are regularly subjected). More...

The International Sports Law Digest – Issue I – January-June 2014 (by Frédérique Faut)

The International Sports Law Digest will be a bi-annual post gathering recent material on International and European Sports Law. This is an attempt at providing a useful overview of the new, relevant, academic contributions, cases, awards and disciplinary decisions in the field of European and International Sports Law. If you feel we have overlooked something please do let us know (we will update the post).

Antoine Duval More...

A Short Guide to the New FIFA Regulations on Working with Intermediaries

This year’s FIFA congress in Sao Paulo should not be remembered only for the controversy surrounding the bid for the World Cup 2022 in Qatar. The controversy was surely at the centre of the media coverage, but in its shadow more long-lasting decisions were taken. For example, the new Regulations on Working with Intermediaries was approved, which is probably the most important recent change to FIFA regulations. These new Regulations will supersede the Regulations on Players’ Agents when they come into force on 1 April 2015. In this blog post we compare the old and the new Regulations followed by a short analysis and prospective view on the effects this change could have. More...

Cannibal's Advocate – In defence of Luis Suarez

Luis Suarez did it again. The serial biter that he is couldn’t refrain its impulse to taste a bit of Chiellini’s shoulder (not really the freshest meat around though). Notwithstanding his amazing theatrical skills and escaping the sight of the referee, Suarez could not in the information age get away with this unnoticed. Seconds after the incident, the almighty “social networks” were already bruising with evidence, outrage and commentaries over Suarez’s misdeed. Since then, many lawyers have weighed in (here, here and here) on the potential legal consequences faced by Suarez. Yesterday FIFA’s disciplinary committee decided to sanction him with a 4 months ban from any football activity and a 9 International games ban. In turn, Suarez announced that he would challenge the decision[1], and plans on going to the Court of Arbitration for Sport if necessary[2]. Let’s be the advocates of the cannibal!More...

Blurred Nationalities: The list of the “23” and the eligibility rules at the 2014 FIFA World Cup. A guest Post by Yann Hafner (Université de Neuchâtel)

In 2009, Sepp Blatter expressed his concerns that half of the players participating in the 2014 FIFA World Cup would be Brazilians naturalized by other countries. The Official list of Players released a few weeks ago tends to prove him wrong[1]. However, some players have changed their eligibility in the past and will even be playing against their own country of origin[2]. This post aims at explaining the key legal aspects in changes of national affiliation and to discuss the regulations pertaining to the constitution of national sides in general[3]. More...

The FIFA Business – Part 2 - Where is the money going? By Antoine Duval and Giandonato Marino

Our first report on the FIFA business dealt with FIFA’s revenues and highlighted their impressive rise and progressive diversification. In parallel to this growth of FIFA’s income, it is quite natural that its expenses have been following a similar path (see Graph 1). However, as we will see FIFA makes it sometimes very difficult to identify precisely where the money is going. Nonetheless, this is precisely what we wish to tackle in this post, and to do so we will rely on the FIFA Financial reports over the last 10 years.


Graph 1: FIFA Expenses in USD million (adjusted for inflation), 2003-2013.


The EU State aid and Sport Saga - A legal guide to the bailout of Valencia CF

After a decade of financial misery, it appears that Valencia CF’s problems are finally over. The foreign takeover by Singaporean billionaire Peter Lim will be concluded in the upcoming weeks, and the construction on the new stadium will resume after five years on hold due to a lack of money. On 3 June Bankia, the Spanish bank that “saved” Valencia CF in 2009 by providing a loan of €81 million, gave the green light for the takeover. However, appearances can be deceiving.More...

Gambling advertising regulations: pitfalls for sports sponsorship - By Ben van Rompuy

In April 2014, the Swedish Gambling Authority (Lotteriinspektionen) warned the organisers of the Stockholm Marathon that it would impose a fine of SEK 2 million (ca. € 221.000) for its sponsorship agreement with online betting operator Unibet. The Authority found that the sponsorship agreement violates §38 of the Swedish Lotteries Act, which prohibits the promotion of gambling services that are not authorized in Sweden.[1] The organisers, however, refused to withdraw Unibet as its sponsor and prominently displayed the Unibet logo at the event, which took place on 31 May 2014. As a result, the organisers of the Stockholm Marathon now face legal action before the Swedish administrative courts. More...

The FIFA Business – Part 1 – Where Does The Money Come From? - By Antoine Duval and Giandonato Marino

On next Thursday the 2014 World Cup will kick off in Sao Paulo. But next week will also see the FIFA members meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday at a much awaited FIFA congress. For this special occasion we decided to review FIFA’s financial reports over the last ten years. This post is the first of two, analysing the reports and highlighting the main economic trends at play at FIFA. First, we will study the revenue streams and their evolution along the 2003-2013 time span. In order to ensure an accurate comparison, we have adjusted the revenues to inflation, in order to provide a level playing field easing the comparative analysis over the years and types of revenues. Our first two graphs gather the main revenue streams into two comparative overviews. Graph 1 brings together the different types of revenues in absolute numbers, while Graph 2 lays down the share of each type of revenues for any given year (the others category covers a bundle of minor revenue streams not directly relevant to our analysis).



Graph 1: FIFA revenues in Millions of Dollars, 2003-2013 (adjusted for inflation). More...

Asser International Sports Law Blog | Quantifying the Court of Arbitration for Sport - By Antoine Duval & Giandonato Marino

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

Quantifying the Court of Arbitration for Sport - By Antoine Duval & Giandonato Marino


Graph 1: Number of Cases submitted to CAS (CAS Satistics)

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) is a fairly recent construct. It was created in 1984 under the patronage of IOC’s former president Juan Antonio Samarranch. However, as is evident from Graph 1, it gained prominence only at the turn of the century and reached the symbolic 100 cases/year bar only in 2003. This recent boom of the CAS docket is mainly due to the adoption of the WADA code and the introduction thereafter of binding arbitration clauses in the statutes and regulations of Sports Governing Bodies. Nowadays, CAS is dealing with a caseload of more than 350 cases/year, which is still growing constantly. From 2008 onwards CAS started even to experience pending cases, as it was not able anymore to process all the cases submitted in one calendar year (Graph 2). The steep fall of “other decisions” (Graph 3), a proxy for decisions (mostly on procedural matters) not involving an award, might indicate that the litigants and their lawyers have become more proficient in CAS procedure. Finally, the number of cases withdrawn (Graph 4) has been varying a lot, without it being possible to pin down any definitive cause explaining those variations. It is, however, notable that more than 2/3 of the cases give way to an award.


Graph 2: Percentage of the cases resulting in an Award/Opinion vs. Percentage of pending cases (Data CAS Statistics)



Graph 3: Percentage of Procedures terminated by a CAS decision other than an award (Data CAS statistics)

Graph 4: Percentage of Cases withdrawn before a decision by the CAS (Data CAS statistics)


The breakdown of the way cases were submitted to CAS (Graph 5) highlights very well the paramount role played by the 1994 reform process triggered by the Gundel ruling of the Swiss Federal Tribunal in 1993. Indeed, it is this reform process which enabled the final recognition of CAS as an independent tribunal by the Swiss Federal Tribunal, a move necessary to ensure the legitimacy of its awards. But, it is also the process through which the appeal procedure of CAS got solidified and became highly valuable in the eyes of Sports Governing Bodies. In light of the Bosman case and the perceived need for a global anti-doping Court, CAS became both a recourse to protect the sporting autonomy and a mean to ensure a harmonized anti-doping playing field. Thus it is not surprising that with the entry into force of the first World Anti-Doping Code in 2004 a huge jump in the number of CAS cases under the appeal procedure can be observed (Graph 5), passing from 46 in 2003 to 252 in 2004 and growing to 301 in 2012. In the meantime, the ordinary procedure cases have been stable with 61 cases in 2003 and 62 in 2012. CAS’s success is largely the success of the appeal procedure, but this appeal procedure seems potentially threatened after the recent Pechstein decision of the Landesgericht München. Furthermore, since 1996 ad hoc CAS proceedings have been introduced. At first only for Olympic games (every two-year) and more recently for other international competitions. However, the caseload of the ad-hoc tribunals remains modest, the peak was reached at the Sydney Olympic in 2000 with 15 cases, since then Ad-hoc tribunals have been in the shadow of the prominent place taken by the Appeal Procedure.

Graph 5: Types of procedure (Ordinary Procedure, Appeal Procedure, Consultation Procedure and Ad-Hoc Procedure) under which cases were submitted to CAS since 1995. (Data CAS statistics)


Finally, our last Graph 6 shows that the boom of the number of CAS awards has quite logically triggered a steep rise in the number of appeals against those awards submitted to the Swiss Federal Tribunal. Indeed, starting from one or two decisions per year in the early 2000s, the Swiss Federal Tribunal is now adopting more than 15 rulings per year on appeal of CAS awards. However, very few of these decisions have overruled CAS awards, moreover once an award is overruled it is usually sent back to CAS to decide de novo on the case, thus giving it the opportunity to correct any procedural mistake leading to the annulment of the first award. This appeal procedure is therefore rather a mock procedure; an appellant has very little chances to succeed. In fact, it is only recently that in a case concerning a CAS award (the Matuzalem case), the Swiss Federal Tribunal considered, for the first time, an arbitral award as contradicting Swiss material public policy. The route to the Swiss Federal Tribunal might be the most obvious to any athlete wishing to contest a CAS award, but it is definitely a very difficult (and costly) one, leaving very few reasons to hope for a final twist.



Graph 6: Number of Decisions of the Swiss Federal Court in Appeal against CAS awards. (Data ASSER)


This report on the Court of Arbitration for Sport was aimed at fleshing out the intuition of sports lawyers on the importance taken by CAS in contemporary sports law practice with some “hard” data illustrating both the temporal and quantitative shifts of the CAS relevance. The rise of the CAS needed to be statistically deconstructed and analysed in order to fully grasp the role it plays in the governance of sports. Furthermore, its interaction with state courts, and in particular with the Swiss Federal Tribunal, deserves close scrutiny. In many instances the Swiss Federal Tribunal is the sole forum of review for CAS awards. This is particularly true for athletes, which have usually been forced, in one way or another, to submit to arbitration. Thus, the debates around the legitimacy and role of CAS in sports governance can only gain from an enhanced knowledge of the empirical reality underlying the Court of Arbitration for sport.


Indicative Bibliography on CAS:

A. Rigozzi, Arbitrage International en matière de sport

A. Rigozzi, Challenging Awards of the Court of Arbitration for Sport

G. Kaufmann-Kohler Arbitration at the Olympics – Issues of Fast-Track Dispute Resolution and Sports Law

M. Maisonneuve, Arbitrage des litiges sportifs

I.S. Blackshaw, J. Soek, R. Siekmann  (Eds.), The Court of Arbitration for Sport 1984–2004

R. H. McLaren, Twenty-Five Years of the Court of Arbitration for Sport: A Look in the Rear-View Mirror

D. Yi, Turning Medals into Metal: Evaluating the Court of Arbitration for Sport as an International Tribunal

The CAS Database of awards

The CAS Bulletin

The Swiss Federal tribunal database (French and German)

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