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

The International Sports Law Digest – Issue II – July-December 2014

I. Literature


1. Antitrust/Competition Law and Sport

G Basnier, ‘Sports and competition law: the case of the salary cap in New Zealand rugby union’, (2014) 14 The International Sports Law Journal 3-4, p.155

R Craven, ‘Football and State aid: too important to fail?’ (2014) 14 The International Sports Law Journal 3-4, p.205

R Craven, ‘State Aid and Sports Stadiums: EU Sports Policy or Deference to Professional Football (2014) 35 European Competition Law Review Issue 9, 453


2. Intellectual Property Rights in Sports law / Betting rights/ Spectators’ rights/ Sponsorship Agreements

Books

W T Champion and K DWillis, Intellectual property law in the sports and entertainment industries (Santa Barbara, California; Denver, Colorado; Oxford, England: Praeger 2014)

J-M Marmayou and F Rizzo, Les contrats de sponsoring sportif (Lextenso éditions 2014) 

More...






Time to Cure FIFA’s Chronic Bad Governance Disease

 After Tuesday’s dismissal of Michael Garcia’s complaint against the now infamous Eckert statement synthetizing (misleadingly in his eyes) his Report on the bidding process for the World Cup 2018 and 2022, Garcia finally decided to resign from his position as FIFA Ethics Committee member. On his way out, he noted: “No independent governance committee, investigator, or arbitration panel can change the culture of an organization”. It took Garcia a while to understand this, although others faced similar disappointments before. One needs only to remember the forgotten reform proposals of the Independent Governance Committee led by Prof. Dr. Mark Pieth. More...

The CAS Ad Hoc Division in 2014: Business As Usual? - Part. 2: The Selection Drama

In a first blog last month we discussed the problem of the scope of jurisdiction of the Ad Hoc Division of the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The key issue was whether an athlete could get his case heard in front of the CAS Ad Hoc Division or not. In this second part, we will also focus on whether an athlete can access a forum, but a different kind of forum: the Olympic Games as such. This is a dramatic moment in an athlete’s life, one that will decide the future path of an entire career and most likely a lifetime of opportunities. Thus, it is a decision that should not be taken lightly, nor in disregard of the athletes’ due process rights. In the past, several (non-)selection cases were referred to the Ad Hoc Divisions at the Olympic Games, and this was again the case in 2014, providing us with the opportunity for the present review.

Three out of four cases dealt with by the CAS Ad Hoc Division in Sochi involved an athlete contesting her eviction from the Games. Each case is specific in its factual and legal assessment and deserves an individual review. More...

Should the CAS ‘let Dutee run’? Gender policies in Sport under legal scrutiny. By Thalia Diathesopoulou

The rise of Dutee Chand, India’s 100 and 200-meter champion in the under 18-category, was astonishing. Her achievements were more than promising: after only two years, she broke the 100m and 200m national junior records, competed in the 100m final at the World Youth Athletics Championships in Donetsk and collected two gold medals in the Asian Junior Championships in Chinese Taipei. But, in July 2014, this steady rise was abruptly halted. Following a request from the Athletics Federation of India (AFI), the Sports Authority of India (SAI) conducted blood tests on the Indian sprinters. Dutee was detected with female hyperandrogenism, i.e a condition where the female body produces high levels of testosterone. As a result, a few days before the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, the AFI declared Dutee ineligible to compete under the IAAF Regulations and prevented her from competing in future national and international events in the female category. Pursuant to the IAAF ‘Hyperandrogenism Policy’, the AFI would allow Dutee to return to competition only if she lowers her testosterone level beneath the male range by means of medical or surgical treatment.[1] On 25 September 2014, Dutee filed an appeal before the CAS, seeking to overturn the AFI’s decision and declare IAAF and IOC’s hyperandrogenism regulations null and void. She is defending her right to compete the way she actually is: a woman with high levels of testosterone. Interestingly enough, albeit a respondent, AFI supports her case.

IAAF and IOC rules set limits to female hyperandrogenism, which is deemed an unfair advantage that erodes female sports integrity. While these rules have been contested with regard to their scientific and ethical aspects, this is the first time that they will be debated in court. This appeal could have far-reaching ramifications for the sports world. It does not only seek to pave the way for a better ‘deal’ for female athletes with hyperandrogenism, who are coerced into hormonal treatment and even surgeries to ‘normalise’ themselves as women[2], but it rather brings the CAS, for the first time, before the thorny question:

How to strike a right balance between the core principle of ‘fair play’ and norms of non-discrimination, in cases where a determination of who qualifies as a ‘woman’ for the purposes of sport has to be made? More...

The O’Bannon Case: The end of the US college sport’s amateurism model? By Zygimantas Juska

On 8 August, U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken ruled in favour of former UCLA basketball player O'Bannon and 19 others, declaring that NCAA's longstanding refusal to compensate athletes for the use of their name, image and likenesses (NILs) violates US antitrust laws. In particular, the long-held amateurism justification promoted by the NCAA was deemed unconvincing.

On 14 November, the NCAA has appealed the judgment, claiming that federal judge erred in law by not applying a 1984 Supreme Court ruling. One week later, the NCAA received support from leading antitrust professors who are challenging the Judge Wilken’s reasoning in an amicus curiae. They are concerned that the judgment may jeopardize the proper regulation of college athletics. The professors argued that if Wilken’s judgment is upheld, it

would substantially expand the power of the federal courts to alter organizational rules that serve important social and academic interests…This approach expands the ‘less restrictive alternative prong’ of the antitrust rule of reason well beyond any appropriate boundaries and would install the judiciary as a regulatory agency for collegiate athletics”.   

More...

Image Rights in Professional Basketball (Part II): Lessons from the American College Athletes cases. By Thalia Diathesopoulou

In the wake of the French Labour Union of Basketball (Syndicat National du Basket, SNB) image rights dispute with Euroleague and EA Games, we threw the “jump ball” to start a series on players’ image rights in international professional basketball. In our first blogpost, we discussed why image rights contracts in professional basketball became a fertile ground for disputes when it comes to the enforcement of these contracts by the Basketball Arbitral Tribunal (BAT). Indeed, we pointed out that clubs might take advantage of the BAT’s inconsistent jurisprudence to escape obligations deriving from image rights contracts.

In this second limb, we will open a second field of legal battles “around the rim”: the unauthorized use of players’ image rights by third parties. We will use as a point of reference the US College Athletes image rights cases before US Courts and we will thereby examine the legal nature of image rights and the precise circumstances in which such rights may be infringed. Then, coming back to where we started, we will discuss the French case through the lens of US case law on players’ image rights. 


Source: http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2013/09/27/ea-sports-settles-college-likeness-case/ More...


The Olympic Agenda 2020: The devil is in the implementation!

The 40 recommendations of the Olympic Agenda 2020 are out! First thought: one should not underplay the 40 recommendations, they constitute (on paper at least) a potential leap forward for the IOC. The media will focus on the hot stuff: the Olympic channel, the pluri-localisation of the Games, or their dynamic format. More importantly, and to some extent surprisingly to us, however, the IOC has also fully embraced sustainability and good governance. Nonetheless, the long-term legacy of the Olympic Agenda 2020 will hinge on the IOC’s determination to be true to these fundamental commitments. Indeed, the devil is always in the implementation, and the laudable intents of some recommendations will depend on future political choices by Olympic bureaucrats. 

For those interested in human rights and democracy at (and around) the Olympics, two aspects are crucial: the IOC’s confession that the autonomy of sport is intimately linked to the quality of its governance standards and the central role the concept of sustainability is to play in the bidding process and the host city contract.  More...

UEFA’s tax-free Euro 2016 in France: State aid or no State aid?

Last week, the French newspaper Les Echos broke the story that UEFA (or better said its subsidiary) will be exempted from paying taxes in France on revenues derived from Euro 2016. At a time when International Sporting Federations, most notably FIFA, are facing heavy criticisms for their bidding procedures and the special treatment enjoyed by their officials, this tax exemption was not likely to go unnoticed. The French minister for sport, confronted with an angry public opinion, responded by stating that tax exemptions are common practice regarding international sporting events. The former French government agreed to this exemption. In fact, he stressed that without it “France would never have hosted the competition and the Euro 2016 would have gone elsewhere”. More...

The New Olympic Host City Contract: Human Rights à la carte? by Ryan Gauthier, PhD Researcher (Erasmus University Rotterdam)

Three weeks ago, I gave a talk for a group of visiting researchers at Harvard Law School on the accountability of the IOC for human rights abuses caused by hosting Olympic Games. On the day of that talk, Human Rights Watch announced that the International Olympic Committee (“IOC”) would insert new language into the Host City Contract presumably for the 2022 Olympic Games onwards. The new language apparently requires the parties to the contract to:

“take all necessary measures to ensure that development projects necessary for the organization of the Games comply with local, regional, and national legislation, and international agreements and protocols, applicable in the host country with regard to planning, construction, protection of the environment, health, safety, and labour laws.”More...

The UN and the IOC: Beautiful friendship or Liaison Dangereuse?

The IOC has trumpeted it worldwide as a « historical milestone »: the United Nations has recognised the sacrosanct autonomy of sport. Indeed, the Resolution A/69/L.5 (see the final draft) adopted by the General Assembly on 31 October states that it  “supports the independence and autonomy of sport as well as the mission of the International Olympic Committee in leading the Olympic movement”. This is a logical conclusion to a year that has brought the two organisations closer than ever. In April, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon appointed former IOC President, Jacques Rogge, Special Envoy for Youth Refugees and Sport. At this occasion, the current IOC President, Thomas Bach, made an eloquent speech celebrating a “historic step forward to better accomplish our common mission for humanity” and a memorandum understanding was signed between the UN and the IOC. This is all sweet and well, but is there something new under the sun?More...

Asser International Sports Law Blog | Resolution of Disputes Arising From Football Contracts in Turkey. By N. Emre Bilginoglu

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

Resolution of Disputes Arising From Football Contracts in Turkey. By N. Emre Bilginoglu

Editor’s note: N. Emre Bilginoglu[1] is a lawyer based in Istanbul. His book entitled “Arbitration on Football Contracts” was published in 2015.


Introduction

With a total market value of approximately 911 million EUR, the Turkish Super League ranks as one of the prominent football leagues in Europe. Five of the eighteen teams that make up half of the total market value are based in Istanbul, a busy megalopolis that hosts a population of fifteen million inhabitants.[2] As might be expected, the elevated market value brings forth a myriad of disputes, mainly between the clubs and the players. However, other crucial actors such as coaches and agents are also involved in some of the disputes. These actors of the football industry are of all countries, coming from various countries with different legal systems.

One corollary of rapid globalisation is the development of transnational law, which is quite visible in the lex sportiva.[3] Like foreign investors, foreign actors of the sports industry look for some legal security before signing a contract. FIFA does protect these foreign actors in some way, providing players and coaches legal remedies for employment-related disputes of an international dimension. But what if the legal system of the FIFA member association does not provide a reasonable legal remedy for its national actors?[4]

That is why lawyers who are involved in sports related disputes have to guide their law-makers in improving their legal systems after thoroughly examining the dispute resolution mechanisms of other countries. Arbitration is indeed growing exponentially as a method of dispute resolution.[5] The renowned alternative dispute resolution is especially preferred in disputes arising from sports contracts, where both a rapid and a confidential resolution is of the essence.[6]  However, some legal systems oblige the parties of a sports related dispute to resolution by arbitration whereas some legal systems do not. This article gives the reader an insight about resolution of disputes arising from football contracts in Turkey. 


Turkish Method of Dispute Resolution

In August 2015, the Turkish Football Federation made certain changes in its Statute and guidelines. Since those changes, disputes arising from contracts between football clubs, players, coaches and agents are resolved within the Turkish Football Federation Dispute Resolution Board (“UCK”).[7] Therefore, applying to State courts for these disputes (the previous way of resolving disputes) is now impossible, which is a substantial legal issue.

Article 59 of the Turkish Constitution states that disputes related to sports administration and disciplinary matters should be resolved by mandatory arbitration.[8] Decisions of these kinds cannot be appealed to any court of the judiciary. The scope of this article does not include employment related disputes. Article 9 of the Constitution declares that judicial power shall be exercised by independent courts. However, courts do not have jurisdiction to hear disputes arising from football contracts because of the regulations of the Turkish Football Federation. Kelsen’s hierarchy of laws is indeed upside down, alas, the current practice without a proper legal basis is the actual practice. It does not seem like a change is scheduled in the near future, given that many are grateful for the rapid resolution of disputes.

The UCK consists of a “Board of Presidents” and arbitrators. It carries out a simple arbitration process and it involves two arbitrators and a UCK official. The applicant is responsible for the application fee (3% of the disputed amount) and paying the arbitrators' fees, which are decided by UCK (between about 450 and 1500 Euros per arbitrator). The UCK decides within four months (they have the right to extend the time limit for a month based on justified grounds). The decision of the UCK may be appealed to the Turkish Football Federation Appeals Board. However, this appeal does not obstruct the enforcement of the award. Although the statute of the Turkish Football Federation recognizes the competence of CAS, it also declares that the decisions rendered by the Appeals Board cannot be reviewed by CAS.[9]

Decisions of the UCK are not published. Decisions of the Arbitral Tribunal are published without reasoning. Hence, it is impossible to know both the facts of the case and how the arbitral tribunal reached a verdict. This negatively impacts the predictability of the UCK and the Arbitral Tribunal.

The proper composition of the UCK is an important condition for fair and equitable proceedings.[10] Arbitrators are nominated by the Foundation of the Clubs, the Association of Football Players and the Association of Coaches. These three institutions may nominate up to 25 arbitrators each. However, the Turkish Football Federation board of directors appoints the arbitrators from the list of nominees, thus casting a shadow on the independence and the impartiality of the arbitral tribunal, which are crucially important for the right to a fair trial.[11] There are numerous links between the UCK, the Arbitral Tribunal and the Turkish Football Federation. The Federation finances the UCK and the Arbitral Tribunal, can modify the Statutes of the UCK and the Arbitral Tribunal and it appoints the arbitrators of the UCK and the members of the Arbitral Tribunal. The current formation of the UCK resembles CAS before Gundel reforms.

Sporting sanctions and training compensations are also within the scope of the UCK.[12] Decisions of the UCK may only be appealed to Arbitral Tribunal of the Turkish Football Federation. The lack of a judicial review for these decisions is disconcerting. I believe the involvement of the Swiss Federal Tribunal in the CAS process could serve as a good model. CAS decisions may be appealed to the Swiss Federal Tribunal but there is no court in Turkey to appeal to once the Arbitral Tribunal decides on the matter. A general court or the Turkish Court of Cassation must review the decisions of the Arbitral Tribunal regarding disputes on football contracts. Decisions of the Arbitral Tribunal related to sports administration and disciplinary matters are accurately not appealable, as stated by Article 59 of the Constitution. However, Article 59 of the Constitution does not include personal actions. Article 9 of the constitution declares that the judicial power shall be exercised by independent courts. The right to access to courts that is granted by the Constitution cannot be breached by an amendment of the Turkish Football Federation. Therefore, courts are wrong for denying jurisdiction for disputes arising from football contracts. 


Players

The rights and obligations between clubs and players are determined by an employment agreement.[13] In Turkey, labour courts have jurisdiction on disputes arising from employment agreements. However, the Turkish Labour Code does not apply to players, thus surprisingly excluding the jurisdiction of labour courts for disputes regarding them. Article 4 of the Labour Code states that the Code does not apply to athletes. The reason behind this exclusion is not to grant certain rights and benefits to athletes, such as severance payments. Before the amendments of August 2015 came into force, disputes regarding players were resolved in general courts, not labour courts. The debate whether general courts or labour courts have jurisdiction is now obsolete, as the players have to apply to the UCK for the disputes arising from football contracts.

The FIFA DRC adjudicates on cases regarding employment related disputes between a club and a player of an international dimension, therefore foreign players do not have to apply to the UCK. In a case of dual citizenship (the player was British/ Turkish), CAS awarded that someone who benefits from Turkish citizenship should also accept its possible burdens, thus refusing jurisdiction.[14]

Arbitration is indubitably more preferable compared to courts for players. The UCK decides within four months and the decision is enforced by the Turkish Football Federation right away. This promptitude surely provides an advantage for players. Nevertheless, arbitrators’ fees are a hefty burden for destitute amateur players or pro players of the third league. On the contrary, application fees that are three percent of the disputed amount is a supernumerary amount for high earning players. High arbitration cost is a concern, as it is strictly related to right of access to courts. Costs should not victimize the plaintiff. 


Coaches

The FIFA PSC adjudicates on disputes between a club and a coach of an international dimension. Turkish coaches working in Turkey do not have that option. Before the implementation of the mandatory arbitration, labour courts had jurisdiction over the disputes arising from employment agreements of coaches. As of August 2015, coaches may only apply to the UCK for disputes arising from their contracts.

The Turkish Super League clubs do not prefer stability with regard to their coaches, as only one team in the league started the 2016-2017 season with the same coach for the third consecutive year. Coaches seem content with the rapid resolution of their contractual disputes and the confidentiality provided by arbitration, however, arbitrators within UCK are seldom appointed by them.


Agents

The FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players state that the PSC has no jurisdiction to hear any contractual dispute involving intermediaries. Agents, foreign or not, have to apply to the UCK for disputes arising from their contracts. This is overall problematic for agents, because they do not have any say on the appointment of arbitrators. Therefore, the independence and the impartiality of the UCK is suspicious, especially for agents. It is highly recommended for foreign agents to work with Turkish lawyers doing business in Turkey. If not, they will have to hire one at some point.  


Conclusion

Arbitration does truly offer a structure that is football-oriented and more aware of the realities of modern football, as stated in the preamble of FIFA NDRC Standard Regulations. “National” arbitration of football related disputes is evolving. The fact that this is genuinely a developing method of dispute resolution should encourage practitioners to improve their national legal systems. Practitioners and those who are in the football business may quite easily benefit from such improvement because it would only influence the business positively. In the Turkish context I would advise the following:

First, decisions not regarding disputes related to sports administration and disciplinary matters of the Arbitral Tribunal should be appealable. This would provide the right to access to courts, as granted by the Constitution.

Second, the independence and the impartiality of the UCK is still a problematic issue that needs to be tackled. The UCK should not be within the structure of the Turkish Football Federation. The process of the appointment of arbitrators should be revised. Clubs, players, coaches and agents must have an equal say on the matter.

The current Turkish system is preferable compared to everlasting court process. Four months to receive an award and the assurance of the enforcement of the award by the Turkish Football Federation is quite encouraging. Mandatory arbitration of UCK is very recent and hopefully the novel system will evolve to fulfil the criteria of FIFA.



[1] Nurettin Emre Bilginoglu, LLM, Attorney-at-law

 Istanbul, Turkey

 e-mail: emre@caglayanyalcin.com

[2] http://www.transfermarkt.com/super-lig/startseite/wettbewerb/TR1

[3] Duval (2013) Lex Sportiva: a playground for transnational law. Eur Law J 19:822-842.

[4] Preamble of the FIFA National Dispute Resolution Chamber Standard Regulations points at this issue:

 “Currently, only a limited number of member associations have a national dispute resolution chamber or a body structured along similar lines that fulfils the criteria of article 22 paragraph b) of the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players. This means that the vast majority of international employment-related disputes fall within the jurisdiction of the FIFA Dispute Resolution Chamber and that the majority of “national” cases may not find appropriate solutions.”

[5] See Ashford (2014) Handbook on International Commercial Arbitration. JurisNet LLC, New York and Karton (2013) The Culture of International Arbitration and the Evolution of Contract Law. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

[6] See Rigozzi (2005) L’arbitrage international en matière de sport. Helbing & Lichtenhahn, Basel.

[7] See Eksi N (2015) Spor Tahkim Hukuku. Beta, Istanbul and Bilginoglu N (2015) Resolution of Disputes Arising From Football Contracts. Beta, Istanbul.

[8] Artıcle 59- The State shall take measures to develop the physical and mental health of Turkish citizens of all ages, and encourage the spread of sports among the masses. The State shall protect successful athletes. (Paragraph added on March 17, 2011; Act No. 6214) The decisions of sport federations relating to administration and discipline of sportive activities may be challenged only through compulsory arbitration. The decisions of Board of Arbitration are final and shall not be appealed to any judicial authority.

[9] “…the TFF Statutes and the Turkish Football Law expressly exclude any appeal against national arbitral tribunals’ decisions, i.e. against such a decision like the Appealed Decision which is the object of the present case. The particular trumps the general. Therefore the argument of the Player that he has an express right of appeal to the CAS under the TFF Statutes must be rejected.” See CAS 2010/A/1996 Omer Riza v. Trabzonspor Kulübü Dernegi & Turkish Football Federation (TFF).

[10] CAS 2015/A/4172 Association of Unions of Football Players and Coaches v. Football Union of Russia.

[11] Although the formation of the arbitral tribunal was different, see CAS 2006/O/1055 Del Bosque, Grande, Miñano Espín & Jiménez v/ Besiktas. For European Court of Human Rights decisions, see Terra Woningen B.V. v. Netherlands, Application N:     20641/92, Date: 17/12/1996; Tsfayo v. UK, Application N: 60860/00, Date: 14/11/2006.

[12] See de Weger (2016) The Jurisprudence of the FIFA Dispute Resolution Chamber, T.M.C. Asser Press for extensive information on sporting sanctions and training compensations.

[13] De Weger (2016) p. 132; For the German practise, see Frodl C (2016) Neuer, Hummels, Muller, Gotze & Co: the legal framework governing industrial relations in German professional football, Int Sports Law J (2016) 16:3–21.

[14] CAS 2010/A/1996 Omer Riza v. Trabzonspor Kulübü Dernegi & Turkish Football Federation (TFF). 

Comments are closed