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 EU State aid and sport saga: The Showdown

It’s been a long wait, but they’re finally here! On Monday, the European Commission released its decisions regarding State aid to seven Spanish professional football clubs (Real Madrid on two occasions) and five Dutch professional football clubs. The decisions mark the end of the formal investigations, which were opened in 2013. The Commission decided as follows: no State aid to PSV Eindhoven (1); compatible aid to the Dutch clubs FC Den Bosch, MVV Maastricht, NEC Nijmegen and Willem II (2); and incompatible aid granted to the Spanish football clubs Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, Valencia CF, Athletic Bilbao, Atlético Osasuna, Elche and Hércules (3). 

The recovery decisions in particular are truly historic. The rules on State aid have existed since the foundation of the European Economic Community in 1958, but it is the very first time that professional football clubs have been ordered to repay aid received from (local) public authorities.[1] In a way, these decisions complete a development set in motion with the Walrave and Koch ruling of 1974, where the CJEU held that professional sporting activity, and therefore also football, is subject to EU law. The landmark Bosman case of 1995 proved to be of great significance as regards free movement of (professional) athletes and the Meca-Medina case of 2006 settled that EU competition rules were equally applicable to the regulatory activity of sport. The fact that the first ever State aid recovery decision concerns major clubs like Real Madrid, FC Barcelona and Valencia, give the decisions extra bite. Therefore, this blog post will focus primarily on the negative/recovery decisions[2], their consequences and the legal remedies available to the parties involved.[3] More...

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

Editor’s note: This report compiles all relevant news, events and materials on International and European Sports Law based on the daily coverage provided on our twitter feed @Sportslaw_asser. You are invited to complete this survey via the comments section below, feel free to add links to important cases, documents and articles we might have overlooked.   


The Headlines

Challenged membership put a lot of emphasis on football federations in May. The Court of Arbitration for Sport (“CAS”) has rendered an award, on 27 April 2016, ordering the FIFA Council to submit the application of the Gibraltar Football Association (GFA) for FIFA membership to the FIFA Congress (the body authorised to admit new members to FIFA). The GFA has sought since 1999 to become a member of UEFA and FIFA. In May 2013, it became a member of the UEFA and went on to seek membership of FIFA. More...


Operación Puerto Strikes Back!

Forget the European Championship currently held in France or the upcoming Olympic Games in Rio. Doping scandals are making the headlines more than ever in 2016. From tennis star Sharapova receiving a two-year ban for her use of the controversial ‘meldonium’, to the seemingly never-ending doping scandals in athletics. As if this was not enough, a new chapter was added on 14 June to one of the most infamous and obscure doping sagas in history: the Operación Puerto.

The special criminal appeal chamber,  the Audiencia Provincial, has held that the more than 200 blood bags of professional athletes that have been at the center of the investigations since 2006 can be delivered to the relevant sporting authorities, such as the Spanish Anti-Doping Agency (AEPSAD), WADA, the UCI and the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI). In other words, there is now a good chance that the identities of the involved athletes might eventually be revealed.

Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/othersports/cycling/9834122/Operation-Puerto-doctor-Eufemiano-Fuentes-treated-tennis-players-athletes-footballers-and-a-boxer.html

This case note will analyze the court’s ruling and summarize its most important findings. Given the amount of time passed since the scandal first came to light (2004), the blog will commence with a short background summary of the relevant facts. More...

FIBA/Euroleague: Basketball’s EU Competition Law Champions League- first leg in the Landgericht München. By Marine Montejo

Editor's note: Marine Montejo is a graduate from the College of Europe in Bruges and is currently an intern at the ASSER International Sports Law Centre.

On 3 June 2016, the Landgericht München (“Munich Regional Court”) ordered temporary injunctions against the International Basketball Federation (“FIBA”) and FIBA Europe, prohibiting them from sanctioning clubs who want to participate in competitions organized by Euroleague Commercial Assets (“ECA”). The reasoning of the Court is based on breaches of German and EU competition law provisions. FIBA and FIBA Europe are, according to the judge, abusing their dominant position by excluding or threatening to exclude national teams from their international competitions because of the participation of their clubs in the Euroleague. This decision is the first judicial step taken in the ongoing legal battle between FIBA and ECA over the organization of European basketball competitions.

This judgment raises several interesting points with regard to how the national judge deals with the alleged abuse of a dominant position by European and international federations. A few questions arise regarding the competence of the Munich Regional Court that may be interesting to first look at in the wake of an appeal before examining the substance of the case. More...

The Müller case: Revisiting the compatibility of fixed term contracts in football with EU Law. By Kester Mekenkamp

Editor’s note: Kester Mekenkamp is an LL.M. student in European Law at Leiden University and an intern at the ASSER International Sports Law Centre.

On 17 February 2016, the Landesarbeitsgericht Rheinland-Pfalz delivered its highly anticipated decision in the appeal proceedings between German goalkeeper Heinz Müller and his former employer, German Bundesliga club Mainz 05.[1] The main legal debate revolved around the question (in general terms) whether the use of a fixed term contract in professional football is compatible with German and EU law. 

In first instance (see our earlier blog posts, here and here), the Arbeitsgericht Mainz had ruled that the ‘objective reasons’ provided in Section 14 (1) of the German Part-time and Fixed-term Employment Act (Gesetz über Teilzeitarbeit und befristete Arbeitsverträge, “TzBfG”), the national law implementing EU Directive 1999/70/EC on fixed-term work, were not applicable to the contract between Müller and Mainz 05 and therefore could not justify the definite nature of that contract.[2] In its assessment the court devoted special attention to the objective reason relating to the nature of the work, declining justifications based thereupon.[3] Tension rose and the verdict was soon labelled to be able to have Bosman-like implications, if held up by higher courts.[4] More...

The BGH’s Pechstein Decision: A Surrealist Ruling



The decision of the Bundesgerichtshof (BGH), the Highest Civil Court in Germany, in the Pechstein case was eagerly awaited. At the hearing in March, the Court decided it would pronounce itself on 7 June, and so it did. Let’s cut things short: it is a striking victory for the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and a bitter (provisory?) ending for Claudia Pechstein. The BGH’s press release is abundantly clear that the German judges endorsed the CAS uncritically on the two main legal questions: validity of forced CAS arbitration and the independence of the CAS. The CAS and ISU are surely right to rejoice and celebrate the ruling in their respective press releases that quickly ensued (here and here). At first glance, this ruling will be comforting the CAS’ jurisdiction for years to come. Claudia Pechstein’s dire financial fate - she faces up to 300 000€ in legal fees – will serve as a powerful repellent for any athlete willing to challenge the CAS.More...



The EU State aid and Sport Saga: Hungary revisited? (Part 2)

On 18 May 2016, the day the first part of this blog was published, the Commission said in response to the Hungarian MEP Péter Niedermüller’s question, that it had “not specifically monitored the tax relief (…) but would consider doing so. The Commission cannot prejudge the steps that it might take following such monitoring. However, the Commission thanks (Niedermüller) for drawing its attention to the report of Transparency International.”

With the actual implementation in Hungary appearing to deviate from the original objectives and conditions of the aid scheme, as discussed in part 1 of this blog, a possible monitoring exercise by the Commission of the Hungarian tax benefit scheme seems appropriate. The question remains, however, whether the Commission follows up on the intent of monitoring, or whether the intent should be regarded as empty words. This second part of the blog will outline the rules on reviewing and monitoring (existing) aid, both substantively and procedurally. It will determine, inter alia, whether the State aid rules impose an obligation upon the Commission to act and, if so, in what way. More...

The Rise and Fall of FC Twente

Yesterday, 18 May 2016, the licensing committee of the Dutch football federation (KNVB) announced its decision to sanction FC Twente with relegation to the Netherland’s second (and lowest) professional league. The press release also included a link to a document outlining the reasons underlying the decision. For those following the saga surrounding Dutch football club FC Twente, an unconditional sanction by the licensing committee appeared to be only a matter of time. Yet, it is the sanction itself, as well as its reasoning, that will be the primary focus of this short blog.More...

The EU State aid and Sport Saga: Hungary’s tax benefit scheme revisited? (Part 1)

The tax benefit scheme in the Hungarian sport sector decision of 9 November 2011 marked a turning point as regards the Commission’s decisional practice in the field of State aid and sport. Between this date and early 2014, the Commission reached a total of ten decisions on State aid to sport infrastructure and opened four formal investigations into alleged State aid to professional football clubs like Real Madrid and Valencia CF.[1] As a result of the experience gained from the decision making, it was decided to include a Section on State aid to sport infrastructure in the 2014 General Block Exemption Regulation. Moreover, many people, including myself, held that Commission scrutiny in this sector would serve to achieve better accountability and transparency in sport governance.[2]

Yet, a recent report by Transparency International (TI), published in October 2015, raises questions about the efficiency of State aid enforcement in the sport sector. The report analyzes the results and effects of the Hungarian tax benefit scheme and concludes that:

“(T)he sports financing system suffers from transparency issues and corruption risks. (…) The lack of transparency poses a serious risk of collusion between politics and business which leads to opaque lobbying. This might be a reason for the disproportionateness found in the distribution of the subsidies, which is most apparent in the case of (football) and (the football club) Felcsút.”[3]

In other words, according to TI, selective economic advantages from public resources are being granted to professional football clubs, irrespective of the tax benefit scheme greenlighted by the Commission or, in fact, because of the tax benefit scheme. More...

International and European Sports Law – Monthly Report – April 2016. By Marine Montejo

Editor’s note: This report compiles all relevant news, events and materials on International and European Sports Law based on the daily coverage provided on our twitter feed @Sportslaw_asser. You are invited to complete this survey via the comments section below, feel free to add links to important cases, documents and articles we might have overlooked.  


The Headlines

This month saw the conflict between FIBA Europe and the Euroleague (more precisely its private club-supported organizing body, Euroleague Commercial Assets or ‘ECA’) becoming further entrenched. This dispute commenced with FIBA creating a rival Basketball Champions League, starting from the 2016-2017 season with the hope to reinstate their hold over the organization of European championships. The ECA, a private body that oversees the Euroleague and Eurocup, not only decided to maintain its competitions but also announced it would reduce them to a closed, franchise-based league following a joint-venture with IMG. In retaliation, FIBA Europe suspended fourteen federations of its competition (with the support of FIBA) due to their support for the Euroleague project.More...


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Asser International Sports Law Blog

Our International Sports Law Diary
The Asser International Sports Law Centre is part of the T.M.C. Asser Instituut

International and European Sports Law – Monthly Report – February and March 2019. 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.

 

The Headlines

The Court of Arbitration for Sport bans 12 Russian track and field athletes

On 1 February 2019, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) communicated that it had rendered another 12 decisions in the seemingly endless saga concerning the state-sponsored doping programme in Russia. These first-instance decisions of the CAS involve 12 Russian track and field athletes who were all found guilty of anti-doping rule violations based on the evidence underlying the reports published by professor Richard McLaren and suspended from participating in sports competitions for periods ranging from two to eight years. Arguably the most prominent name that appears on the list of banned athletes is Ivan Ukhov, the 32-year-old high jump champion from the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

The case was brought by the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) that sought to convince the arbitrators that the athletes in question had participated in and/or benefited from anabolic steroid doping programmes and benefited from specific protective methods (washout schedules) in the period between the 2012 Olympic Games in London and the 2013 IAAF World Championships in Moscow. The CAS was acting in lieau of the Russian Athletics Federation that remains suspended and thus unable to conduct any disciplinary procedures. The athletes have had the opportunity to appeal the decisions to the CAS Appeals Arbitration Division.

Federal Cartel Office in Germany finds Rule 40 of the Olympic Charter disproportionately restrictive

At the end of February, the German competition authority Bundeskartellamt announced that it had entered into a commitment agreement with the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in which these two organisations had agreed to considerably enhance advertising opportunities for German athletes and their sponsors during the Olympic Games. The respective agreement is a direct consequence of the Bundeskartellamt’s finding that the IOC and the DOSB had abused their dominant position on the market for organising and marketing the Olympic Games by demanding that the athletes refrain from promoting their own sponsors while the Games are ongoing, as well as shortly before and after the Games. This restriction stems from Rule 40(3) of the Olympic Charter under which no competitor who participates in the Games may allow his person, name, picture or sports performances to be used for advertising purposes, unless the IOC Executive Board allows him/her to do so.

As part of fulfilling its obligations under the commitment agreement, the DOSB has relaxed its guidelines on promotional activities of German athletes during the Olympic Games. For its part, the IOC has declared that these new guidelines would take precedence over Rule 40(3) of the Olympic Charter. However, it still remains to be seen whether in response to the conclusions of the German competition authority the IOC will finally change the contentious rule.

The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights refuses to pronounce itself on Claudia Pechstein’s case

Claudia Pechstein’s challenge against the CAS brought before the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has not yielded the desired result for the German athlete. On 5 February 2019, a Panel of the Grand Chamber of the ECtHR decided that the Grand Chamber would not entertain the case. This means that the judgment handed down by the 3rd Chamber of the ECtHR on 2 October 2018, in which the ECtHR confirmed that except for the lack of publicity of oral hearings the procedures of the CAS are compatible with the right to a fair trial under Article 6(1) of the European Convention on Human Rights, has now become final and binding. However, the protracted legal battle between the five-time Olympic champion in speed skating and the CAS is not over yet since there is one more challenge against the CAS and its independence pending before the German Constitutional Court.  More...

New Event! FIFA and Human Rights: Impacts, Policies, Responsibilities - 8 May 2019 - Asser Institute

In the past few years, FIFA underwent intense public scrutiny for human rights violations surrounding the organisation of the World Cup 2018 in Russia and 2022 in Qatar. This led to a reform process at FIFA, which involved a number of policy changes, such as:

  • Embracing the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights;
  • The inclusion of human rights in the FIFA Statutes;
  • Adopting new bidding rules including human rights requirements;
  • And introducing a Human Rights Advisory Board.

To take stock of these changes, the Asser Institute and the Netherlands Network for Human Rights Research (NNHRR), are organising a conference on the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) and human rights, which will take place at the Asser Institute in The Hague on 8 May 2019.

This one-day conference aims to take a deeper look at FIFA’s impacts on human rights and critically investigate the measures it has adopted to deal with them. Finally, we will also address FIFA’s potential legal responsibilities under a variety of human rights laws/instruments.


Preliminary Programme

9:00 Registration & Coffee

9:45 Welcome by Antoine Duval (Asser Institute) & Daniela Heerdt (Tilburg University)

10:00 Opening Remarks by Andreas Graf (Human Rights Officer, FIFA)

10:30 Panel 1: FIFA & Human Rights: Impacts

  • Zoher Shabbir (University of York) – The correlation between forced evictions and developing nations hosting the FIFA World Cup
  • Roman Kiselyov (European Human Rights Advocacy Centre) - FIFA World Cup as a Pretext for a Crackdown on Human Rights
  • Eleanor Drywood (Liverpool University) - FIFA and children’s rights: theory, methodology and practice 

12:00 Lunch

13:00 Panel 2: FIFA & Human Rights: Policies

  • Lisa Schöddert & Bodo Bützler (University of Cologne) – FIFA’s eigen-constitutionalisation and its limits
  • Gigi Alford (World Players Association) - Power Play: FIFA’s voluntary human rights playbook does not diminish Switzerland’s state power to protect against corporate harms
  • Brendan Schwab (World Players Association) & Craig Foster - FIFA, human rights and the threatened refoulement of Hakeem Al Araibi 

14:30 Break

15:00 Panel 3: FIFA & Human Rights: Responsibilities

  • Daniel Rietiker (ECtHR and University of Lausanne) - The European Court of Human Rights and Football: Current Issues and Potential
  • Jan Lukomski (Łukomski Niklewicz law firm) - FIFA and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights : Obligations, duties and remedies regarding the labour rights         protected under the ICESCR
  • Raquel Regueiro Dubra (Complutense University of Madrid) - Shared international responsibility for human rights violations in global events. The case of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
  • Wojciech Lewandowski (Polish Academy of Sciences/University of Warsaw) - Is Bauer the new Bosman? – The implications of the newest CJEU jurisprudence for FIFA and other sport governing bodies

17:00 Closing Remarks by Mary Harvey (Chief Executive, Centre for Sports and Human Rights)


More information and registration at https://www.asser.nl/education-events/events/?id=3064

International and European Sports Law – Monthly Report – January 2019 - 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.

 

The Headlines

#Save(d)Hakeem

The plight of Hakeem al-Araibi – the 25-year-old refugee footballer who was arrested last November in Bangkok upon his arrival from Australia on the basis of a red notice issued by Interpol in contravention of its own policies which afford protection to refugees and asylum-seekers – continued throughout the month of January. Bahrain – the country Hakeem al-Araibi fled in 2014 due to a (well-founded) fear of persecution stemming from his previous experience when he was imprisoned and tortured as part of the crackdown on pro-democracy athletes who had protested against the royal family during the Arab spring – maintained a firm stance, demanding that Hakeem be extradited to serve a prison sentence over a conviction for vandalism charges, which was allegedly based on coerced confessions and ignored evidence.

While international sports governing bodies were critised from the very beginning for not using enough leverage with the governments of Bahrain and Thailand to ensure that Hakeem’s human rights are protected, they have gradually added their voice to the intense campaign for Hakeem’s release led by civil society groups. FIFA, for example, has sent a letter directly to the Prime Minister of Thailand, urging the Thai authorities ‘to take the necessary steps to ensure that Mr al-Araibi is allowed to return safely to Australia at the earliest possible moment, in accordance with the relevant international standards’. Yet many activists have found this action insufficient and called for sporting sanctions to be imposed on the national football associations of Bahrain and Thailand.      

When it looked like Hakeem will continue to be detained in Thailand at least until April this year, the news broke that the Thai authorities agreed to release Hakeem due to the fact that for now the Bahraini government had given up on the idea of bringing Hakeem ‘home’ – a moment that was praised as historic for the sport and human rights movement.

Russia avoids further sanctions from WADA despite missing the deadline for handing over doping data from the Moscow laboratory 

WADA has been back in turmoil ever since the new year began as the Russian authorities failed to provide it with access to crucial doping data from the former Moscow laboratory within the required deadline which expired on 31 December 2018, insisting that the equipment WADA intended to use for the data extraction was not certified under Russian law. The Russian Anti-Doping Agency thus failed to meet one of the two conditions under which its three-year suspension was controversially lifted in September 2018. The missed deadline sparked outrage among many athletes and national anti-doping organisations, who blamed WADA for not applying enough muscle against the Russian authorities.

Following the expiry of the respective deadline, it appeared that further sanctions could be imposed on the Russian Anti-Doping Agency, but such an option was on the table only until WADA finally managed to access the Moscow laboratory and retrieve the doping data on 17 January 2019. Shortly thereafter, WADA President Sir Craig Reedie hailed the progress as a major breakthrough for clean sport and members of the WADA Executive Committee agreed that no further sanctions were needed despite the missed deadline. However, doubts remain as to whether the data have not been manipulated. Before WADA delivers on its promise and builds strong cases against the athletes who doped – to be handled by international sports federations – it first needs to do its homework and verify whether the retrieved data are indeed genuine.  

British track cyclist Jessica Varnish not an employee according to UK employment tribunal

On 16 January 2019, an employment tribunal in Manchester rendered a judgment with wider implications for athletes and sports governing bodies in the United Kingdom, ruling that the female track cyclist Jessica Varnish was neither an employee nor a worker of the national governing body British Cycling and the funding agency UK Sport. The 28-year-old multiple medal winner from the world and European championships takes part in professional sport as an independent contractor but sought to establish before the tribunal that she was in fact an employee of the two organisations. This would enable her to sue either organisation for unfair dismissal as she was dropped from the British cycling squad for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and her funding agreement was not renewed, allegedly in response to her critical remarks about some of the previous coaching decisions.

The tribunal eventually dismissed her challenge, concluding that ‘she was not personally performing work provided by the respondent – rather she was personally performing a commitment to train in accordance with the individual rider agreement in the hope of achieving success at international competitions’. Despite the outcome of the dispute, Jessica Varnish has insisted that her legal challenge contributed to a positive change in the structure, policies and personnel of British Cycling and UK Sport, while both organisations have communicated they had already taken action to strengthen the duty of care and welfare provided to athletes.  

 

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Upcoming Events

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. 

A Reflection on the Second Report of FIFA’s Human Rights Advisory Board - By Daniela Heerdt (Tilburg University)

Editor's note: Daniela Heerdt is a PhD candidate at Tilburg Law School in the Netherlands and works as Research Officer for the Centre for Sports and Human Rights. Her PhD research deals with the establishment of responsibility and accountability for adverse human rights impacts of mega-sporting events, with a focus on FIFA World Cups and Olympic Games. She published an article in the International Sports Law Journal that discusses to what extent the revised bidding and hosting regulations by FIFA, the IOC and UEFA strengthen access to remedy for mega-sporting events-related human rights violations.

 

On November 26th, the Human Rights Advisory Board[1] of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) published its second report. This blog provides a summary and brief evaluation of the report, by drawing a comparison to the previous report issued by the Human Rights Advisory Board (hereinafter: the Board) based on the content of the recommendations and FIFA’s efforts to implement the Board’s recommendations. The third part of this blog briefly reflects on the broader implications of some of the new recommendations issued for FIFA’s internal policies. The conclusion provides five more general points of observation on the report. More...

The Kristoffersen ruling: the EFTA Court targets athlete endorsement deals - By Sven Demeulemeester and Niels Verborgh

Editor’s note: Sven Demeulemeester and Niels Verborgh are sports lawyers at the Belgium law firm, Altius.

 

Introduction

In its 16 November 2018 judgment, the Court of Justice of the European Free Trade Association States (the EFTA Court) delivered its eagerly awaited ruling in the case involving Henrik Kristoffersen and the Norwegian Ski Federation (NSF). 

On 17 October 2016, Kristoffersen had taken the NSF to the Oslo District Court over the latter’s refusal to let the renowned alpine skier enter into a sponsorship with Red Bull. At stake were the commercial markings on his helmet and headgear in races organised under the NSF’s umbrella. The NSF refused this sponsorship because it had already granted the advertising on helmet and headgear to its own main sponsor, Telenor. Kristoffersen claimed before the Oslo District Court, that the NSF should be ordered to permit him to enter into an individual marketing contract with Red Bull. In the alternative, Kristoffersen claimed damages up to a maximum of NOK 15 million. By a letter of 25 September 2017, the Oslo District Court referred several legal questions to the EFTA Court in view of shedding light on the compatibility of the rules that the NSF had invoked with EEA law.

If rules do not relate to the conduct of the sport itself, but concern sponsorship rights and hence an economic activity, these rules are subject to EEA law. The EFTA Court ruling is important in that it sets out the framework for dealing with - ever more frequent - cases in which an individual athlete’s endorsement deals conflict with the interest of the national or international sports governing bodies (SGBs) that he or she represents in international competitions.More...


Season 2 of football leaks: A review of the first episodes

Season 2 of #FootballLeaks is now underway since more than a week and already a significant number of episodes (all the articles published can be found on the European Investigative Collaborations’ website) covering various aspect of the (lack of) transnational regulation of football have been released (a short German documentary sums up pretty much the state of play). For me, as a legal scholar, this new series of revelations is an exciting opportunity to discuss in much more detail than usual various questions related to the operation of the transnational private regulations of football imposed by FIFA and UEFA (as we already did during the initial football leaks with our series of blogs on TPO in 2015/2016). Much of what has been unveiled was known or suspected by many, but the scope and precision of the documents published makes a difference. At last, the general public, as well as academics, can have certainty about the nature of various shady practices in the world of football. One key characteristic that explains the lack of information usually available is that football, like many international sports, is actually governed by private administrations (formally Swiss associations), which are not subject to the similar obligations in terms of transparency than public ones (e.g. access to document rules, systematic publication of decisions, etc.). In other words, it’s a total black box! The football leaks are offering a rare sneak peak into that box.

Based on what I have read so far (this blog was written on Friday 9 November), there are three main aspects I find worthy of discussion:

  • The (lack of) enforcement of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) Regulations
  • The European Super League project and EU competition law
  • The (lack of) separation of powers inside FIFA and UEFA More...

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.

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

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 continue this series of interviews with LawInSport, a knowledge hub and educational platform for the community of people working in or with an interest in sport and the law  (many thanks to LawInSport's CEO Sean Cottrell for kindly responding to our questions).


1. Can you explain to our readers what LawInSport is about?

LawInSport is a knowledge hub, educational platform and global community of people working in or with an interest in sport and the law.

Our objective is to help people ‘understand the rules of the game™’. What does this mean? It means people in sport having access to information that enables them to have a better understanding the rules and regulations that govern the relationships, behaviours and processes within sports. This in turn creates a foundation based on the principles of the rule of law, protecting the rights of everyone working and participating in sport.  

2. What are the challenges and perks of being an international sports law 'reporter’ ?

I do not consider myself a reporter, but as the head of an organisation that has a responsibility to provide the highest quality information on legal issues in sport,  focusing on what is important and not just what is popular, whilst trying to stay free from conflicts of interests. These two issues, popularism and conflict of interest, are the two of the biggest challenges.

Popularism and the drive to win attention is, in my opinion, causing a lack of discipline when it comes to factual and legal accuracy in coverage of sports law issues, which on their own may seem harmless, but can cause harm to organisations and individuals (athletes, employees, etc).

Conflict of interest will obviously arise in such a small sector, however, there is not a commonly agreed standard in internationally, let alone in sports law. Therefore, one needs to be diligent when consuming information to understand why someone may or may not hold a point of view, if they have paid to get it published or has someone paid them to write it. For this reason it can be hard to get a full picture of what is happening in the sector.

In terms of perks, I get to do something that is both challenging and rewarding on a daily basis, and as  a business owner I have the additional benefit of work with colleagues I enjoy working with. I have the privilege of meeting world leaders in their respective fields (law, sport, business, science, education, etc) and gain insights from them about their work and life experiences which is incredibly enriching.  Getting access to speak to the people who are on the front line, either athletes, coaches, lawyers, scientists, rather than from a third party is great as it gives you an unfiltered insight into what is going on.

On the other side of things, we get the opportunity to help people through either having a better understand of the legal and regulatory issues in sports or to understand how to progress themselves towards their goals academically and professionally is probably the most rewarding part of my work. 

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

  • The long-term implications of human rights law in sport;
  • The importance of meaningful of stakeholder consultation in the creation and drafting of regulations in sport;
  • Effective international safeguarding in sport.

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

We support ISLJ Annual International Sports Law Conference as it is a non-profit conference that’s purpose is to create a space to explore a wide range of legal issues in sport. The conference is an academic conference that does a great job in bringing a diverse range of speakers and delegates. The discussions and debates that take place will benefit the wider sports law community.  Therefore, as LawInSport’s objective is focused on education it was a straight forward decision to support the conferences as it is aligned with our objectives. 

Asser International Sports Law Blog | Revisiting FIFA’s Training Compensation and Solidarity Mechanism - Part. 5: Rethinking Redistribution in Football - 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. 5: Rethinking Redistribution in Football - By Rhys Lenarduzzi

Editor’s note: Rhys Lenarduzzi recently completed a Bachelor of Law (LL.B) and Bachelor of Philosophy (B.Phil.) 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.

 

As one may have gathered from the series thus far, the question that comes out of this endeavour for me, is whether redistribution in football would be better divorced from the transfer system?

In my introductory blog I point towards historical, cultural, and of course the legal explanations as to why redistribution was established, and why it might be held onto despite obvious flaws. In my second blog, I point out how the training compensation and solidarity mechanisms work in practice through an African case study, as well as the hindrance caused and the Eurocentricity of the regulations. The key take-away from my third blog on the non-application of training compensation in women’s football might be that training compensation should apply to both men’s and women’s football, or neither. The sweeping generalisation that men’s and women’s football are different as justification for the non-application to the women’s game is not palatable, given inter alia the difference between the richest and poorest clubs in men’s football. Nor is it palatable that the training compensation mechanism is justified in men’s football to incentivise training, yet not in women’s football.

In the fourth blog of this series, I raise concerns that the establishment of the Clearing House prolongs the arrival of a preferable alternative system. The feature of this final blog is to consider alternatives to the current systems. This endeavour is manifestly two-fold; firstly, are there alternatives? Secondly, are they better? 

 

1. Is training compensation necessary to incentivise training?

It might be the case that this question does not receive adequate attention. Though we are told there exists a need to incentivise training and the system as it stands is justified by this notion, is that truly what the redistributive mechanisms in the current form achieve? Furthermore, for all the flaws in reasoning and hindrance created by the mechanisms, is it really worth it?

During my time as an agent, I have personally never heard from a director or executive of a football club, the words or sentiment that, time - effort - money placed towards their youth football programs is done so solely, predominantly, or at all in anticipation of training compensation or solidarity payments.  Nor have I ever come across the sentiment from within any club, that a club would not care for or abandon its youth programs without the ‘dangling carrot’ of potential compensation. FIFA now refer to the redistributive mechanisms as ‘training rewards’, though one may reasonably struggle to connect these training rewards with a true definition of incentive. It appears more likely to be the case that any desire or expectation to be rewarded or compensated is an after the fact conclusion, when a player progresses professionally and a training club concludes that they are part of the reason for that players’ success. In a macro sense, given how infrequent it is for a training club to develop a professional, this seems to add weight to an argument that compensation does not create the purported incentive, or at least that clubs do not rely on the prospect.  It is because of this that I tend to lean towards the view that the incentivisation to train youth as a justification for redistributive measures may not have aged well. In any event, it would be interesting to test that intuition derived from experience, through a proper social scientific survey of clubs. Systems with such far-reaching implications should be grounded in a proper study of the socio-economic drivers of the training of football players.

On the other hand, the possibility of attracting large and exciting transfer fees is often spoken about within club walls.  For these ‘selling clubs’ with a clear intention to invest in youth and capitalise later in the form of transfer fees, such fees may be seen as compensation of sorts, but more likely as a remuneration for a deliberate though hardly risk-free investment. Moreover, these clubs do not simply abandon their first team and focus on youth and potential transfers exclusively. First team squads are also the beneficiary of strong youth systems and commonly the main reason a club invests in youth. Additionally, clubs can have a strong connection to their communities and see a combined duty and benefit of having strong youth programs. Clubs not only play a role in sustaining the social fabric of the communities to which they are situated, but benefit commercially through the many ways in which fans add value.

If it is true that compensation does not amount to incentivisation, then it is difficult to conclude that it is necessary. However, even if training compensation and the solidarity mechanism are not deemed necessary, a strong case can still be made for redistribution so long as the gap between wealthy and poor clubs remains or grows, and entire continents continue to be nurseries and the source of the muscle drain.

 

2. Imagining Alternative Redistributive Mechanisms

Proposing an alternative to the existing FIFA systems of redistribution is a difficult task. I have raised the concern of the Eurocentricity of the current regulations, and in proposing something else, one must be mindful that these are global regulations. If one suggests a form of taxation or tariff to redistribute, awareness of the myriad cultural differences on taxation and the multiplicity of enforcement contexts might be important. Also, whilst I have raised the question on whether compensation ought to be divorced from the transfer system, reasons for redistributing at all should be axiomatically better than not having a system of redistribution.

Intent and what is to be achieved needs to be clear. Is the ideal system of redistribution in place to reward ‘something’ or should redistribution be directed more deliberately and where it is needed, acting as welfare of a kind? I have already suggested that compensation does not incentivise clubs, though conversely, might clubs be disincentivised to grow if they only remain the beneficiaries of redistribution insofar as they stay sufficiently small and poor, whatever that threshold might be? Or could a system still incentivise growth, with clubs the beneficiaries of an amount that would not be enough to sustain themselves in full, yet enough to help them to continue to grow and commercialise? Whether greater commercialisation is a desirable change is another worthwhile question.

Despite the difficulties in suggesting an alternative, one can hope that a system of redistribution can be non-discriminative, does not create the hindrance effect to the current extent or encourage risky circumvention of the regulations (see blog 2 for detail), and is able to attain its legitimate aims. I would submit that the current systems do not tick these boxes. In this section, I provide some food for thought regarding potential alternatives, though I must caveat that I am not an economist and have not yet settled on an alternative myself.

 

a)     Coubertobin Tax

I will begin this section by introducing Andreff’s Coubertobin tax, in the interest of highlighting that others have thought about alternative systems of redistribution and have perhaps proposed alternatives that are arguably better than the current systems. Whilst I hope to present the Coubertobin tax adequately, one will need to read Andreff for the full picture.  Though valuable food for thought, I do not endorse the Coubertobin tax per se, as it has its flaws and remains connected to the transfer system, albeit to a lesser extent.

Inspired by a mix of the economic thought of James Tobin and Pierre de Coubertin, the idea of a Coubertobin tax “is to levy a tax at a 1 % rate on all transfer fees and initial wages agreed on in each labour contract signed by athletes and players from developing countries with foreign partners.”[1]

The objectives are as follows:

  1. slightly covering the education and training cost, for his/her home developing country, of any athlete or player transferred abroad;
  2. providing a stronger disincentive to transfer an athlete or a player from a developing country, the younger he/she is when the transfer takes place;
  3. thus, slowing down the muscle drain from developing countries and toward professional player markets in developed countries; and
  4. accruing revenues to a fund for sports development in the home developing country from the tax levied on every athlete or player transfer abroad.[2]

There is little wonder why Andreff desires to redistribute to developing countries. He has done extensive work on the correlation between economic prosperity and sporting success. This list is by no means exhaustive, but for instance, he writes extensively on the muscle drain, where athletes from developing nations move for financial and developmental reasons, which creates a myriad of follow-on issues to the home-country. He identifies the toll poverty takes on a developing country’s domestic leagues and competitions due to the muscle drain and the inability to train professionals to a world class standard. He notes that some athletes defect to other nations early and qualify for the adopted country’s national team. Per Andreff and in summary “the overall context of sport underdevelopment does not provide a strong incentive for talented players to stay in their home country even if a professional championship does exist there.”[3]

Andreff’s proposal is not set in stone and an admirable element to his work on the matter is the consistent offering of caveats that suggest, with more study and/or work, a certain piece of the Coubertobin system may benefit from amendment. Andreff describes his system as “a solution (not a panacea) which is likely to alleviate, along with some of the financial problems of developing countries, the aforementioned problem of the muscle drain.”[4] Most relevant is perhaps the idea that, the younger the player is in question regarding a transfer, the higher the tax (see suggested formulae).[5] This he submits, may put a brake on the muscle drain at such early ages, or result in greater amounts of money moved to developing nations if a club wishes to recruit a player at a significantly young age.

Andreff acknowledges hindrances, though takes a macro view that encompasses protecting minors, as well as strengthening local leagues in developing countries given the talent will remain for longer periods. One can envisage an additional positive result, in having young athletes finish non-football education having stayed at home until a later date.

Though this is my interpretation, I suspect Andreff finds it an easy task to identify the beneficiaries or winners of these transactions and therefore those parties should be the ones who pay the Coubertobin tax, on “the bill for the transfer fee and the first year wage”.[6]

Andreff raises the concern of “bargaining and corruption surrounding the tax collection in developing countries”,[7] though offers a plausible solution. “[T]he collection of the Coubertobin tax should be monitored and supervised by an international organization, either an existing one (UNDP or the World Bank) or an ad hoc one to be created.”[8] This is plausible as it is not so different to the way FIFA intends to outsource the operation of the Clearing House to a suitable and reputable organisation that would be subject to audit (see blog 4).

Andreff admits the tax “would meet with both hindrance and resistance”,[9] it would “not be easy to implement and enforce insofar as it has to be accepted on a worldwide basis”,[10] the system would contain administrative costs that would need sorting and ironing out, and there would need to be a method for disputes and perhaps fines for non-compliance.  Even so, the Coubertobin tax provides much food for thought as it is proposed for all professional sport and not just football. It attempts to address the muscle drain and the taxes proposed may prove less a hindrance than the current FIFA systems.

 

b)    Abolishment and Free Market Economics

If this was day one of football, there might be a strong argument for a free market approach, with emphasis on club management to make sure intelligent decisions are made to sustain clubs, with wealth the responsibility of the clubs themselves. However, we are not at the beginning of football.  Certain clubs in certain regions are the victims of much more than mismanagement, adding weight to an argument for a need to redistribute equitably.

As it stands, an equitable system or one where redistribution is directed to where it is most needed, is not in place and has not been proposed. Could it be the case, at least in the interim, that the free market is the best and fairest? The current systems appear at least somewhat a case of over-regulation with side effects that were not, or could not have been anticipated, like the hindrance effect and the pressures on vulnerable clubs to waive compensation to name just a couple.  It then seems defensible to abolish systems that do not work in the interim, than to hang on to those flawed systems until a better proposal is put forth. Instead, all efforts could be placed into study and research to remedy the obvious flaws.

Conversely, the free market in modern football would not appear to improve the situation for the kind of club I have identified frequently throughout this series, and although it may eliminate the hindrance effect, destination clubs would have their pick of players and poor clubs would undoubtedly lose all talent. Furthermore, if a system of redistribution was to be created that clearly improved football and the free-market approach had been adopted in the interim, a valid consideration might be the difficulty the relevant bodies would have in re-introducing a system of redistribution, having gone back to the free market for a period.  It is for these reasons that I can not endorse such an approach, however sympathetic I am to abolishment and the idea of alleviating hindrance and promoting free movement.

 

c)     FIFA Funded Solidarity: A New Model

As he addressed the Confederation of African Football’s (CAF) 42nd ordinary general assembly, FIFA President Gianni Infantino said, “I believe in Africa. I count on Africa, and you can count on me to help you to bring Africa to the top.” However admirable and applaudable are the purported goals of FIFA for Africa, and the sentiment warm, one cannot help but wonder if this African project, relevant to this blog series, could not be expedited by a substantial FIFA based investment. Infantino went on to say, “I want to see at least 50 national teams and 50 clubs from all over the world that can compete for the title of world champions with realistic chances of winning. And why shouldn’t Africa be at the top, with the incredible talent that we see shining every week, mainly in Europe’s top clubs? I am convinced it’s only a matter of commitment, work and engagement by all of us together.”

To answer the President’s question, one cannot see African clubs on top in a global sense, so long as all the best African players play, as the President said, in Europe. Further, we will continue to be less likely to see an African national team win a World Cup, whilst some of the best African players play for other nations to which they moved when they were younger, and whilst African federations are unable to organise like European federations, given they do not have the same resources.  I could of course go on, but one likely gathers my point. 

So, could FIFA make an investment sufficient to prop up Africa as it supposedly desires? Perhaps. How about an amount equal to the frequently referred gap between what is owed and paid when it comes to the redistributive mechanisms of FIFA? Could FIFA at least cover that gap? If one considers the annual financial reports, certainly, and probably further and in a more specific and deliberate fashion. Surely direct, targeted investment is preferable to leaving redistribution to the whim of a club’s good fortune to have registered a player that would go on to be a professional. That is, of course, if that player’s club did not have to waive training compensation to render a transfer possible.

The FIFA Forward Development Programme is described by FIFA as “global football development and the way we share the success of the FIFA World Cup”. It is an encouraging and frankly exciting initiative, and again one must applaud the efforts. Under the Infantino administration, FIFA has pledged more funding in this way than ever before. “On 13 June 2018, the FIFA Congress decided to increase investment in the FIFA Forward Development Programme still further for the next cycle of 2019-2022 with a 20% increase in the annual entitlement for each of the 211 member associations and six confederations.”

Anyone can go to the webpage for the FIFA Forward Programme, roll their cursor over the interactive map and see that FIFA are investing money in places of need. Disappointingly, not overly specific information is provided regarding the exact use of funding, though there are encouraging articles that unpack some of the investments and initiatives and these efforts should be commended (the FIFA Foundation Community Programme is another example of some of the encouraging work being done).  One element that is interesting and appealing within these funding programs, is the toying with an application process to be granted some form of investment. This perhaps shows an increased awareness that money ought to be distributed specifically and deliberately, to address a genuine need. Though not a trial per se, this kind of process could be used as one and may turn out to be preferable to clubs in need, who would for instance prefer to bypass the national association if that relationship is not so sturdy.   

At first glance, the almost even allocation of investment per member association found in Circular no. 1659 - FIFA Forward Development Programme – regulations (FIFA Forward 2.0) may seem equitable, though taking into account that some of the wealthier associations may be the beneficiaries of the systemic exploitation and drain that has featured in this blog series, might render the near even distribution questionable. Whilst “an additional amount of up to USD 1,000,000 is available for member associations with an annual revenue of USD 4 million or less”, one might reasonably wonder if that amount of extra funding to smaller and/or poorer associations is sufficient to affect real change.

Whilst I hope I have made clear that FIFA’s efforts ought to be commended, the overarching theme of this section is to consider if more could be done and if so, might those extra efforts to distribute funds be preferable and able to replace the current systems of redistribution connected to the transfer system. I do not find impressive the self-congratulatory theme of the statement from Alejandro Domínguez, Chairman of the FIFA Finance Committee, of being hundreds of millions of dollars under budget in the 2019 annual report, as well as possessing “sufficient liquidity”. FIFA, a not-for-profit organisation, was delighted to report that “at the 2019 year-end, total assets had increased to USD 4,504 million (four billion, five hundred and four million), chiefly made up of cash and financial assets (82%). Reserves also remained at a very satisfactory level at USD 2,586 million (two billion, five hundred and eighty-six million), clearly above the amount budgeted.”[11]

Proposing FIFA fund more redistribution is not a risk free, nor a concern free proposition, but it does appear the idea could be taken more seriously by the relevant stakeholders. FIFA’s predominate money maker is the FIFA World Cup, which is in a sense, a way of using the produce of the richest clubs in the world, which have in turn benefitted from some of the poorest clubs nursing the players until they are of age. FIFA, filling the frequently mentioned gap from the profits of the World Cup makes as much sense as any proposal. Is this not simply a case of, if more can be done then more should be done? Going off FIFA’s reports, it has the resources.

Within this potential alternative, where FIFA are responsible for raising and redistributing funding that would otherwise supposedly come from the current redistribution systems, is a change to the modality of redistribution. From what is currently intimately connected to training and transfers, this alternative provides for the much-needed decoupling, not only based on the philosophical flaws, but additionally due to the preferable practical implications that divorcing redistribution, training and the transfer market could achieve. In terms of a body or mechanism to implement an alternative like this, how might a Clearing House kind of project unfold, that adopts a specific and deliberate ethos to distributing FIFA funds? To expand, following a substantial process of planning and allocation of adequate resources, the creation of a specific arm dedicated to researching and identifying those areas of football most in need, as well as receiving and vetting applications for funding. Might that or a similar solution be achievable? It could be in-house or outsourced the same way the Clearing House is intended to be, geared to make suggestions, provide expert economic advice and proposals, reporting its findings back to FIFA for an extra layer of approval. Food for thought in any case.

 

3. Concluding Remarks

There is a core of wealth in football that has benefitted from, been propped up by, and drained the periphery. It is important to ensure the strength and survival of football outside this core of wealth and to actively make sure value is added to the periphery. Football needs to promote this notion and in doing so ask the question, where will the big clubs turn for talent and youth if those reservoirs which they drain are emptied and unable to continue to produce talent? 

If one is convinced that it is not necessary to incentivise training, that the current regulations have significant negative effects, that any system of redistribution should be non-discriminative, provide minimal hindrance to free movement and pursue deliberate legitimate aims, then one is in favour of overhaul. Further then, surely there is an obligation to address what can be in the immediate sense. Namely, to either default to the free market, until a convincing system of redistribution is created, or perhaps preferably, for FIFA to take the reins and fund redistribution to the periphery of football to a greater extent.


[1] Wladimir Andreff (2001). The correlation between economic underdevelopment and sport. European Sport Management Quarterly, 1, p.274.

[2] Wladimir Andreff, “A Coubertobin Tax Against Muscle Drain”, 4th Play the Game Conference: Governance in Sport: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly, Copenhagen, 6-10 November (2005) p.10.

[3] Ibid, p.5.

[4] Ibid, p.9.

[5] Ibid, p.11.

[6] Ibid, p.12.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] FIFA Annual Report 2019 p.124.

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