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

Blog Symposium: The “Athlete Patient” and the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code: Competing Under Medical Treatment. By Marjolaine Viret and Emily Wisnosky

Introduction: The new WADA Code 2015
Day 1: The impact of the revised World Anti-Doping Code on the work of National Anti-Doping Agencies
Day 3: Proof of intent (or lack thereof) under the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code
Day 4: Ensuring proportionate sanctions under the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code

Editor's Note
Marjolaine Viret: An attorney-at-law at the Geneva bar, specialising in sports and health law. Her doctoral work in anti-doping was awarded a summa cum laude by the University of Fribourg in early 2015. She gained significant experience in sports arbitration as a senior associate in one of Switzerland’s leading law firms, advising clients, including major sports federations, on all aspects of anti-doping. She also holds positions within committees in sports organisations and has been involved in a variety of roles in the implementation of the 2015 WADC. Her book “Evidence in Anti-Doping at the Intersection of Science & Law” is scheduled for publication in 2015.

Emily Wisnosky: An attorney-at-law admitted to the California bar, she currently participates in the WADC 2015 Commentary research project as a doctoral researcher. She also holds an LLM from the University of Geneva in International Dispute Settlement, with a focus on sports arbitration. Before studying law, she worked as a civil engineer. More...

Blog Symposium: The impact of the revised World Anti-Doping Code on the work of National Anti-Doping Agencies. By Herman Ram

Introduction: The new WADA Code 2015
Day 2: The “Athlete Patient” and the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code: Competing Under Medical Treatment
Day 3: Proof of intent (or lack thereof) under the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code
Day 4: Ensuring proportionate sanctions under the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code

Editor's note
Herman Ram is the Chief Executive Officer of the Anti-Doping Authority the Netherlands, which is the National Anti-Doping Organization of the country. He has held this position since 2006. After working twelve years as a librarian, Herman Ram started his career in sport management in 1992, when he became Secretary general of the Royal Netherlands Chess Federation. In 1994, he moved on to the same position at the Netherlands Badminton Federation. He was founder and first secretary of the Foundation for the Promotion of Elite Badminton that was instrumental in the advancement of Dutch badminton. In 2000 he was appointed Secretary general of the Netherlands Ski Federation, where he focused, among other things, on the organization of large snowsports events in the Netherlands. Since his appointment as CEO of the Anti-Doping Authority, he has developed a special interest in legal, ethical and managerial aspects of anti-doping policies, on which he has delivered numerous presentations and lectures. On top of that, he acts as Spokesperson for the Doping Authority. Herman Ram holds two Master’s degrees, in Law and in Sport Management. More...

Blog Symposium: The new WADA Code 2015 - Introduction

Day 1: The impact of the revised World Anti-Doping Code on the work of National Anti-Doping Agencies
Day 2: The “Athlete Patient” and the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code: Competing Under Medical Treatment
Day 3: Proof of intent (or lack thereof) under the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code
Day 4: Ensuring proportionate sanctions under the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code

On 1 January, a new version of the World Anti-Doping Code (WADC or Code) entered into force. This blog symposium aims at taking stock of this development and at offering a preliminary analysis of the key legal changes introduced. The present blog will put the WADC into a more general historical and political context. It aims to briefly retrace the emergence of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and its Code. It will also reconstruct the legislative process that led to the adoption of the WADC 2015 and introduce the various contributions to the blog symposium.More...

To pay or not to pay? That is the question. The case of O’Bannon v. NCAA and the struggle of student athletes in the US. By Zlatka Koleva

Editor's note
Zlatka Koleva is a graduate from the Erasmus University Rotterdam and is currently an Intern at the ASSER International Sports Law Centre.

The decision on appeal in the case of O’Bannon v. NCAA seems, at first sight, to deliver answers right on time regarding the unpaid use of names, images and likenesses (NILs) of amateur college athletes, which has been an ongoing debate in the US after last year’s district court decision that amateur players in the college games deserve to receive compensation for their NILs.[1] The ongoing struggle for compensation in exchange for NILs used in TV broadcasts and video games in the US has reached a turning point and many have waited impatiently for the final say of the Court of Appeal for the 9th circuit. The court’s ruling on appeal for the 9th circuit, however, raises more legitimate concerns for amateur sports in general than it offers consolation to unprofessional college sportsmen. While the appellate court agreed with the district court that NCAA should provide scholarships amounting to the full cost of college attendance to student athletes, the former rejected deferred payment to students of up to 5,000 dollars for NILs rights. The conclusions reached in the case relate to the central antitrust concerns raised by NCAA, namely the preservation of consumer demand for amateur sports and how these interests can be best protected under antitrust law. More...

The European Commission’s ISU antitrust investigation explained. By Ben Van Rompuy

In June 2014, two prominent Dutch speed skaters, Mark Tuitert (Olympic Champion 1500m) and Niels Kerstholt (World Champion short track), filed a competition law complaint against the International Skating Union (ISU) with the European Commission.

ChanceToCompeteTwitter.png (50.4KB)

Today, the European Commission announced that it has opened a formal antitrust investigation into International Skating Union (ISU) rules that permanently ban skaters from competitions such as the Winter Olympics and the ISU World and European Championships if they take part in events not organised or promoted by the ISU. The Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager, stated that the Commission "will investigate if such rules are being abused to enforce a monopoly over the organisation of sporting events or otherwise restrict competition. Athletes can only compete at the highest level for a limited number of years, so there must be good reasons for preventing them to take part in events."

Since the case originates from legal advice provided by the ASSER International Sports Law Centre, we thought it would be helpful to provide some clarifications on the background of the case and the main legal issues at stake. More...

Interview with Wil van Megen (Legal Director of FIFPro) on FIFPro’s EU Competition Law complaint against the FIFA Transfer System

Editor’s note
Wil is working as a lawyer since 1980. He started his legal career at Rechtshulp Rotterdam. Later on he worked for the Dutch national trade union FNV and law firm Varrolaan Advocaten. Currently he is participating in the Labour Law Section of lawfirm MHZ-advocaten in Schiedam in the Netherlands. He is also a member of a joint committee advising the government in labour issues.

Since 1991 he is dealing with the labour issues of the trade union for professional football players VVCS and cyclists’ union VVBW. Since 2002, he works for FIFPro, the worldwide union for professional football players based in Hoofddorp in the Netherlands. He is involved in many international football cases and provides legal support for FIFPro members all over the world. Wil was also involved in the FIFPro Black Book campaign on match fixing and corruption in Eastern Europe. More...

The Scala reform proposals for FIFA: Old wine in new bottles?

Rien ne va plus at FIFA. The news that FIFA’s Secretary General Jérôme Valcke was put on leave and released from his duties has been quickly overtaken by the opening of a criminal investigation targeting both Blatter and Platini.

With FIFA hopping from one scandal to the next, one tends to disregard the fact that it has been attempting (or rather pretending) to improve the governance of the organisation for some years now. In previous blogs (here and here), we discussed the so-called ‘FIFA Governance Reform Project’, a project carried out by the Independent Governance Committee (IGC) under the leadership of Prof. Dr. Mark Pieth of the Basel Institute on Governance. Their third and final report, published on 22 April 2014, listed a set of achievements made by FIFA in the area of good governance since 2011, such as establishing an Audit and Compliance Committee (A&C). However, the report also indicated the reform proposals that FIFA had not met. These proposals included the introduction of term limits for specific FIFA officials (e.g. the President) as well as introducing an integrity review procedure for all the members of the Executive Committee (ExCo) and the Standing Committees. More...

Why the CAS #LetDuteeRun: the Proportionality of the Regulation of Hyperandrogenism in Athletics by Piotr Drabik

Editor's note
Piotr is an intern at the ASSER International Sports Law Centre.


On 24 July the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) issued its decision in the proceedings brought by the Indian athlete Ms. Dutee Chand against the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) and the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) in which she challenged the validity of the IAAF Regulations Governing Eligibility of Female with Hyperandrogenism to Compete in Women’s Competition (Regulations). The Regulations were established in 2011 as a response to the controversies surrounding South African athlete Caster Semenya (see e.g. here, here, and here), and for the purpose of safeguarding fairness in sport by prohibiting women with hyperandrogenism, i.e. those with excessive levels of endogenous (naturally occurring) testosterone, from competing in women athletics competitions. Owing to the subject-matter that the Regulations cover, the case before the CAS generated complex legal, scientific and ethical questions. The following case note thus aims at explaining how the Panel addressed the issues raised by the Indian athlete. It follows a previous blog we published in December 2014 that analysed the arguments raised in favour of Ms. Chand. More...

Not comfortably satisfied? The upcoming Court of Arbitration for Sport case of the thirty-four current and former players of the Essendon football club. By James Kitching

Editor's note: James Kitching is Legal Counsel and Secretary to the AFC judicial bodies at the Asian Football Confederation. James is an Australian and Italian citizen and one of the few Australians working in international sports law. He is admitted as barrister and solicitor in the Supreme Court of South Australia. James graduated from the International Master in the Management, Law, and Humanities of Sport offered by the Centre International d'Etude du Sport in July 2012.


On 12 May 2015, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) announced that the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) had filed an appeal against the decision issued by the Australian Football League (AFL) Anti-Doping Tribunal (AADT) that thirty-four current and former players of Essendon Football Club (Essendon) had not committed any anti-doping rule violation (ADRV) identified within the AFL Anti-Doping Code (AADC). The players had each been charged with using Thymosin-Beta 4 (TB4) during the 2012 AFL season.

On 1 June 2015, WADA announced that it had filed an appeal against the decision by the AADT to clear Mr. Stephen Dank (Dank), a sports scientist employed at Essendon during the relevant period, of twenty-one charges of violating the AADC. Dank was, however, found guilty of ten charges and banned for life.

This blog will solely discuss the likelihood of the first AADT decision (the Decision) being overturned by the CAS. It will briefly summarise the facts, discuss the applicable rules and decision of the AADT, review similar cases involving ‘non-analytical positive’ ADRVs relating to the use of a prohibited substance or a prohibited method, and examine whether the Code of Sports-related Arbitration (CAS Code) is able to assist WADA in its appeal.

This blog will not examine the soap opera that was the two years leading-up to the Decision. Readers seeking a comprehensive factual background should view the excellent up-to-date timeline published by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. More...

EU Law is not enough: Why FIFA's TPO ban survived its first challenge before the Brussels Court

Star Lawyer Jean-Louis Dupont is almost a monopolist as far as high profile EU law and football cases are concerned. This year, besides a mediatised challenge against UEFA’s FFP regulations, he is going after FIFA’s TPO ban on behalf of the Spanish and Portuguese leagues in front of the EU Commission, but also before the Brussels First Instance Court defending the infamous Malta-based football investment firm Doyen Sport. FIFA and UEFA’s archenemy, probably electrified by the 20 years of the Bosman ruling, is emphatically trying to reproduce his world-famous legal prowess. Despite a first spark at a success in the FFP case against UEFA with the Court of first instance of Brussels sending a preliminary reference to the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU), this has proven to be a mirage as the CJEU refused, as foretold, to answer the questions of the Brussels Court, while the provisory measures ordered by the judge have been suspended due to UEFA’s appeal. But, there was still hope, the case against FIFA’s TPO ban, also involving UEFA and the Belgium federation, was pending in front of the same Brussels Court of First Instance, which had proven to be very willing to block UEFA’s FFP regulations. Yet, the final ruling is another disappointment for Dupont (and good news for FIFA). The Court refused to give way to Doyen’s demands for provisional measures and a preliminary reference. The likelihood of a timely Bosman bis repetita is fading away. Fortunately, we got hold of the judgment of the Brussels court and it is certainly of interest to all those eagerly awaiting to know whether FIFA’s TPO ban will be deemed compatible or not with EU law. More...

Asser International Sports Law Blog | Revisiting FIFA’s Training Compensation and Solidarity Mechanism - Part.1: The historical, legal and political foundations - By Rhys Lenarduzzi

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

Revisiting FIFA’s Training Compensation and Solidarity Mechanism - Part.1: The historical, legal and political foundations - By Rhys Lenarduzzi

Editor’s note: Rhys Lenarduzzi is a final semester Bachelor of Law (LL.B) and Bachelor of Philosophy (B.Phil.) student, at the University of Notre Dame, Sydney, Australia. As a former professional athlete, then international sports agent and consultant, Rhys is interested in international sports law, policy and ethics. He is currently undertaking an internship at the T.M.C. Asser Institute with a focus on Transnational Sports Law.

In 2019, training compensation and solidarity contributions based on FIFA’s Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players (RSTP) amounted to US$ 75,5 million. This transfer of wealth from the clubs in the core of the football hierarchy to the clubs where the professional players originated is a peculiar arrangement unknown in other global industries. Beyond briefly pointing out or reminding the reader of how these systems work and the history behind them, this blog series aims to revisit the justifications for FIFA-imposed training compensation and the solidarity mechanism, assess their efficacy and effects through a case study of their operation in the African context, and finally analyse the potential impact of upcoming reforms of the FIFA RSTP in this context.

First, it is important to go back to the roots of this, arguably, strange practice. The current transfer system and the legal mechanisms constituting it were largely the result of a complex negotiation between European football’s main stakeholders and the European Commission dating back to 2001. The conclusion of these negotiations led to a new regulatory system enshrined in Article 20 and Annex 4 of the RSTP in the case of training compensation, and at Article 21 and Annex 5 in the case of the solidarity mechanism. Before paying some attention to the historical influences and how we arrived at these changes, as well as the justifications from the relevant bodies for their existence, let us briefly recall what training compensation and the solidarity mechanisms actually are.

1.     FIFA’s training compensation and solidarity mechanism: A very short introduction

Training compensation is the obligation of an acquiring/buying/signing/new club to compensate the training clubs of a player. A training club is considered to be the clubs of the player between the ages of 12 and 21, though the obligation to compensate continues if either of the following two instances take place, up until the season of a player’s 23rd birthday:  i) “[A] player is registered for the first time as a professional” or,  ii) “a professional is transferred between clubs of two different associations…”. The obligation does not arise if a former club terminates a player’s contract without just cause, when a professional reacquires amateur status in moving clubs, or when a player transfers to a category 4 club. Regarding the categories, this is important because the amounts owed to a training club hinge on where clubs fall within four categories (For more on the four categories see HERE).

There are some regulatory differences between the EU/EEA and the rest of the football world. A significant distinction is that without sufficient justification that it is worthy of compensation, a former club will not be owed by a “new club”[1] if they have not offered a contract of equivalent value to the player in question.[2]

The Solidarity mechanism provisions stipulate that when a player moves to a new club, mid contract, for a fee agreed between the new club and former club, then 5% of that fee is designated as a solidarity contribution, and each of the player’s training clubs will receive a portion. The apportionment varies depending on what age the player was registered with the training club (further information on apportionment can be found HERE). This obligation arises when a player is transferred definitively or on loan, between clubs from different associations, as well as when a transfer takes place within the same association, but a training club of the player is affiliated to another association.

For both training compensation and the solidarity mechanism, the regulations provide that the national association will instead receive the money when the club owed “has in the meantime ceased to participate in organised football and/ or no longer exists”.[3] In cases as such, the compensation is to be used for youth football development.

Disputes can arise when the new club does not pay on time or at all, or if there is a disagreement on the amount owed, as well as when a new club attempts to make the case that a player has already terminated his training period prior to age of 21. Given the above explanation of the systems is brief, further detail may be found within the relevant articles and annexes (see HERE for the full regulations).

2.     A brief history: From the ‘retain and transfer system’ to the FIFA RSTP 2001

Much of the current framework is the product of various events surrounding the birth of the regulations in 2001, though the ideas and concepts it captures go way back beyond this time. The English Football League’s registration system that would go on to be touted as the ‘retain and transfer system’ dates back to at least 1893.[4] Both this system and the American Baseball ‘reserve rule’ system are often mentioned in the same breath. As Sloane pointed out in 1969: “The justification for the reserve rule and the retain and transfer system lies in their alleged function in bringing about a more or less equal distribution of playing talent between clubs, whilst, their advocates argue, free competition would lead to a concentration of 'star' players into a few rich clubs.”[5]  Both systems were the target of an array of challenges over the years, though up until ‘free agency’[6] in the case of American Baseball (much earlier) and Bosman[7] in football, each system remained largely the same in existence and justification.[8] To further emphasise that the issues recognised, and in turn the ideas and justifications pertinent to the current system are hardly new, the Chester Report of 1969 on the situation regarding employment and transfers in football in England had striking similarities to much of what was raised within the European-level negotiations that lead to the changes in 2001.[9]

With the momentous Bosman case in 1995, the previously commonplace practice of an out of contract player being retained and unable to transfer (regardless of that player’s preferences) was found contrary to EU law. Importantly for the subject of this blog, the court also recognised that “encouraging the recruitment and training of young players must be accepted as legitimate”[10] aim, on the basis of which the free movement rights of players could in principle be restricted. Thus, leaving an opening for a regulatory system that would support the “recruitment and training of young players”[11] and restrict free movement in a proportionate way.

In 1998, the European Commission decided to open an investigation against FIFA based on competition law concerns linked to its then applicable RSTP.  This decision brought FIFA, UEFA and FIFPro to the European Commission’s negotiating table to hammer out a compromise that would satisfy their divergent interests and be compatible with the EU’s antitrust rules. The regulations as they now stand, aside from some minor amendments, reflect the outcome of those negotiations. The final press release of the European Commission concluded that FIFA’s new regulations would have to reflect a set of principles in order to be deemed compatible with EU competition law. In particular it accepted that:

  • in the case of players aged under 23, a system of training compensation should be in place to encourage and reward the training effort of clubs, in particular small clubs;
  • creation of solidarity mechanisms that would redistribute a significant proportion of income to clubs involved in the training and education of a player, including amateur clubs; 

These are in fact quite faithfully transposed in the FIFA RSTP provisions discussed above. Since then, the Bernard[12] ruling of the CJEU further clarified that the societal significance of sport, rendered the incentivisation of training legitimate. In its ruling, the court specified that in order to comply with EU law, a training compensation system ‘must be actually capable of attaining that objective and be proportionate to it, taking due account of the costs borne by the clubs in training both future professional players and those who will never play professionally’.[13] This remains the main benchmark that any FIFA training compensation system must meet in order to comply with EU law.

As we have shown in this section, the shape of the current FIFA training compensation system and solidarity mechanism are very much a direct result of the EU’s interventionism in the regulation of football in the aftermath of the Bosman case. In doing so, the EU institutions also recognised that the idea of redistributing funds to compensate the costs incurred by the training club in instructing a player is a legitimate one.

3.     Justifying redistribution: Sharing the costs of training

Why do football institutions want this system in place and how was it justified? As was alluded to above, these ideas are not new ideas and are rooted in tradition.[14] Football and its intricacies have been deemed in need of protection for a long time, at least from within. More importantly for this blog, there is a desire for wealth to be redistributed in the form of compensation to the training clubs, to manufacture solidarity between the different levels of football and to incentivise goals such as training, education and development. This justification for FIFA’s redistributive systems is largely connected to the recognition that sport is important for the social fabric, and that incentivising development and training clubs goes beyond football and has societal benefits.

These objectives are reflected in the compromise agreed between FIFA and the EC in 2001. The latter’s press release emphasised that training compensation was “to encourage and reward the training effort of clubs, in particular small clubs“. Similarly, FIFA stated in Circular no. 769; “This system is designed to encourage more and better training of young football players, and to create solidarity among clubs, by awarding financial compensation to clubs which have invested in training young players.” Thus, it is clear that both the football authorities and the EU institutions recognise that the core aim of the FIFA’s training compensation and (though less obviously) its solidarity mechanism are to support the recruitment and training of young professional footballers. In fact, the CJEU’s advocate general in Bernard later recognised that training compensation rules “ensure that clubs are not discouraged from recruitment and training by the prospect of seeing their investment in training applied to the benefit of some other club, with no compensation for themselves”.[15] She went on to emphasise that “there is a broad public consensus that the training and recruitment of young players should be encouraged rather than discouraged”.[16]

At the heart of these rationalisations lies the core belief that failing to compensate the club that has helped a young player grow into a professional player is unfair and would discourage the club’s future effort to train players. Whether a training compensation system is necessary to attain such an objective is, however, far from evident. As was pointed out by advocate general Lenz in the Bosman case, such objectives could as well “be attained by a system of redistribution of a proportion of income, without the players' right to freedom of movement having to be restricted for that purpose“.[17] Nevertheless, the idea of redistribution between clubs remains the fundamental policy objective that underpins both FIFA’s training compensation system and solidarity mechanism.

Concluding remarks and subsequent blogs

This blog has highlighted that FIFA’s training compensation system and solidarity mechanism were introduced, after lengthy discussions with the European Commission and relevant stakeholders, in order to create a solidarity and redistributive relationship between the club where a player was trained and the club were a player pursues his professional career. The core justification behind them is that the training clubs provide an important educational service and that their work would be discouraged if they would not be enjoying some economic returns on their investment (in time and resources) to train players that go on to play professionally for a bigger/richer club.

While this objective is certainly respectable, there are, however, questions that remain regarding the adequacy and necessity of these systems to effectively redistribute funds between clubs. First, one should always keep in mind that training compensations are restricting the players’ freedom to move between clubs. Second, as we will see in the coming blog focusing on African players and clubs, it is questionable whether the current FIFA rules are in practice achieving their main redistributive function. Third, if these mechanisms are necessary to encourage training, it is as well remarkable that they are not also introduced in the context of women professional football, as will be discussed in our third blog. Finally, my last blog will assess how the coming changes to FIFA’s RSTP will affect the structure and operation of both the training compensation system and the solidarity mechanism.

[1] “New club” is the language used in the RSTP.

[2] “[I]n writing via registered post at least 60 days before the expiry of his current contract” per RSTP Annex 4 (6) ‘Special provisions for the EU/EEA’.

[3] RSTP - Annex 4 (3) 3; Annex 5 (2) 3.

[4] Sloane, P. J. (1969), The labour market in professional football, British Journal of Industrial Relations, 7, 181-199.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Established from the decision in Curt Flood v. Bowie Kuhn, et al. 407 U.S. 258.

[7] Case C-415/93 Union Royale Belge des Socie´te´s de Football Association and others v. Bosman and others, ECLI: EU: C:1995:463

[8] Gerrard, B. (2002), The Muscle drain, Coubertobin-Type Taxes and the International Transfer System in Association Football,  European Sport Management Quarterly at 50 – “High Court in England ruled in 1963 that the retain-and transfer system was a restraint of trade. This led to a progressive relaxation of the transfer system with players being given more freedom to move between teams at the end of their contracts while transfer fees remained payable”.

[9] Per Sloane (1969) – “Contracts should have a terminable date and be renewable only on the consent of both parties… The committee did, however, suggest that a special levy should be imposed by the Football League on transfer fees, in addition to the present arrangement and graded according to the size of fee at a progressive rate. This levy could be returned to clubs for the purpose of ground improvements and would thereby tend to offset the tax advantage which clubs derive by signing players, since such payments, unlike the cost of ground improvements, are tax allowable.

[10] Bosman, para 106.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Case C-325/08 Olympique Lyonnais SASP v Olivier Bernard and Newcastle UFC, ECLI: EU: C:2010:143

[13] Ibid para 45.

[14] Pearson, G. Sporting Justifications under EU Free Movement and Competition Law: The Case of the Football ‘Transfer System’, European Law Journal, Vol. 21, No. 2, (March 2015) pp. 222.

[15] Opinion of Advocate General Sharpston in CJEU case C-325/08 Olympique Lyonnais SASP v Olivier Bernard and Newcastle UFC, para 46.

[16] Ibid para 47.

[17] Opinion of Advocate General Lenz CJEU case C-415/93 Union Royale Belge des Socie´te´s de Football Association and others v. Bosman and others, para 239.

Comments are closed