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

Human Rights as Selection Criteria in Bidding Regulations for Mega-Sporting Events – Part II: FIFA and Comparative Overview – By Tomáš Grell

The first part of this two-part blog examined the new bidding regulations adopted by the IOC and UEFA, and concluded that it is the latter who gives more weight to human rights in its host selection process. This second part completes the picture by looking at FIFA's bidding regulations for the 2026 World Cup. It goes on to discuss whether human rights now constitute a material factor in evaluating bids to host the mega-sporting events organised by these three sports governing bodies. More...

Human Rights as Selection Criteria in Bidding Regulations for Mega-Sporting Events – Part I: IOC and UEFA – By Tomáš Grell

Editor’s note: Tomáš Grell holds an LL.M. in Public International Law from Leiden University. He contributes to the work of the ASSER International Sports Law Centre as a research intern.


It has been more than seven years since the FIFA Executive Committee awarded the 2022 World Cup to Qatar. And yet only in November 2017 did the Qatari government finally agree to dismantle the controversial kafala system, described by many as modern-day slavery. Meanwhile, hundreds of World Cup-related migrant workers have reportedly been exposed to a wide range of abusive practices such as false promises about the pay, passport confiscation, or appalling working and living conditions.[1] On top of that, some workers have paid the highest price – their life. To a certain extent, all this could have been avoided if human rights had been taken into account when evaluating the Qatari bid to host the tournament. In such a case, Qatar would not have won the bidding contest without providing a convincing explanation of how it intends to ensure that the country's poor human rights record will not affect individuals, including migrant workers, contributing to the delivery of the World Cup. An explicit commitment to abolish the kafala system could have formed an integral part of the bid.

Urged by Professor John Ruggie and his authoritative recommendations,[2] in October 2017 FIFA decided to include human rights within the criteria for evaluating bids to host the 2026 World Cup, following similar steps taken earlier this year by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and UEFA in the context of the Olympic Winter Games 2026 and the Euro 2024 respectively. This two-part blog critically examines the role human rights play in the new bidding regulations adopted by the IOC, UEFA, and FIFA. The first part sheds light on the IOC and UEFA. The second part then takes a closer look at FIFA and aims to use a comparative analysis to determine whether the new bidding regulations are robust enough to ensure that selected candidates abide by international human rights standards.More...


International and European Sports Law – Monthly Report – November 2017. By Tomáš Grell

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

 

The Headlines

FIFA and FIFPro sign landmark agreement

A six-year cooperation agreement concluded between FIFA and FIFPro on 6 November 2017 puts an end to protracted negotiations which began after the latter had filed in September 2015 a complaint with the European Commission, challenging the validity of the FIFA transfer system under EU competition law. This agreement, together with an accord reached between FIFA, FIFPro, the European Club Association, and the World Leagues Forum under the umbrella of the FIFA Football Stakeholders Committee, should help streamline dispute resolution between players and clubs, avoid abusive practices in the world of football, or contribute to the growth of professional women's football. In addition, the FIFA Football Stakeholders Committee is now expected to establish a task force to study and conduct a broader review of the transfer system. As part of the deal, FIFPro agreed to withdraw its EU competition law complaint.

FIFA strengthens its human rights commitment amid reports of journalists getting arrested in Russia

It is fair to say that human rights have been at the forefront of FIFA's agenda in 2017. Following the establishment of the Human Rights Advisory Board in March and the adoption of the Human Rights Policy in June this year, in November FIFA published the bidding regulations for the 2026 World Cup. Under these new regulations, member associations bidding to host the final tournament shall, inter alia, commit themselves to respecting all internationally recognised human rights in line with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights or present a human rights strategy on how they intend to honour this commitment. Importantly, the human rights strategy must include a comprehensive report that is to be complemented and informed by a study elaborated by an independent expert organisation. Moreover, on 9 November 2017, the Human Rights Advisory Board published its first report in which it outlined several recommendations for FIFA on how to further strengthen its efforts to ensure respect for human rights.

While all these attempts to enhance human rights protection are no doubt praiseworthy, they have not yet produced the desired effect as reports of gross human rights abuses linked to FIFA's activities continue to emerge. Most recently, Human Rights Watch documented how Russian police arrested a newspaper editor and a human rights defender whose work focused on exposing World Cup-related corruption and exploitation of migrant construction workers. On a more positive note, a bit of hope comes with the announcement by a diverse coalition, including FIFA, UEFA, and the International Olympic Committee, of its intention to launch a new independent Centre for Sport and Human Rights in 2018.

More than 20 Russian athletes sanctioned by the Oswald Commission for anti-doping rule violations at the Sochi Games   

November has been a busy month for the International Olympic Committee, especially for its Oswald Commission. Established in July 2016 after the first part of the McLaren Independent Investigation Report had been published, the Oswald Commission is tasked with investigating the alleged doping violations by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. Its first sanctions were handed down last month. As of 30 November 2017, the Commission chaired by the IOC Member Denis Oswald sanctioned 22 athletes (see here, here, here, here, here, and here) who competed at the Sochi Olympics in the following sports: biathlon, bobsleigh, cross country skiing, skeleton, and speed skating. The Commission published its first full decision on 27 November 2017 in the case against the cross country skier Alexander Legkov, a gold and silver medallist from the Sochi Olympics, who was ultimately banned for life from attending another Olympics.More...

Statement on the European Commission's ISU Decision by Ben Van Rompuy and Antoine Duval

Editor's note: We (Ben Van Rompuy and Antoine Duval) are at the origin of today's decision by the European Commission finding that the International Skating Union's eligibility rules are contrary to EU competition law. In 2014, we were both struck by the news that ISU threatened lifetime ban against speed skaters wishing to participate in the then projected Icederby competitions and convinced that it was running against the most fundamental principles of EU competition law. We got in touch with Mark and Niels and lodged on their behalf a complaint with the European Commission. Three years after we are pleased to see that the European Commission, and Commissioner Vestager in particular, fully embraced our arguments and we believe this decision will shift the tectonic structure of sports governance in favour of athletes for years to come.


Here is our official statement:

Today is a great day for Mark Tuitert and Niels Kerstholt, but more importantly for all European athletes. The European Commission did not only consider the International Skating Union's eligibility rules contrary to European law, it sent out a strong message to all international sports federations that the interests of those who are at the centre of sports, the athletes, should not be disregarded. This case was always about giving those that dedicate their lives to excelling in a sport a chance to compete and to earn a decent living. The majority of athletes are no superstars and struggle to make ends meet and it is for them that this decision can be a game-changer.

However, we want to stress that this case was never about threatening the International Skating Union’s role in regulating its sport. And we very much welcome the exceptional decision taken by the European Commission to refrain from imposing a fine which could have threatened the financial stability of the International Skating Union. The International Skating Union, and other sports federations, are reminded however that they cannot abuse their legitimate regulatory power to protect their economic interests to the detriment of the athletes.

We urge the International Skating Union to enter into negotiations with representatives of the skaters to devise eligibility rules which are respectful of the interests of both the athletes and their sport.

Since the summer of 2014, it has been our honour to stand alongside Mark and Niels in a 'David versus Goliath' like challenge to what we always perceived as an extreme injustice. In this fight, we were also decisively supported by the team of EU Athletes and its Chance to Compete campaign.

Finally, we wish to extend a special thank you to Commissioner Vestager. This case is a small one for the European Commission, but Commissioner Vestager understood from the beginning that small cases do matter to European citizens and that European competition law is there to provide a level playing for all, and we are extremely grateful for her vision.


Dr. Ben Van Rompuy (Leiden University) and Dr. Antoine Duval (T.M.C. Asser Instituut)

A Good Governance Approach to Stadium Subsidies in North America - By Ryan Gauthier

Editor's Note: Ryan Gauthier is Assistant Professor at Thompson Rivers University in Canada. Ryan’s research addresses the governance of sports organisations, with a particular focus on international sports organisations. His PhD research examined the accountability of the International Olympic Committee for human rights violations caused by the organisation of the Olympic Games.


Publicly Financing a Stadium – Back in the Saddle(dome)

Calgary, Canada, held their municipal elections on October 16, 2017, re-electing Naheed Nenshi for a third term as mayor. What makes this local election an interesting issue for sports, and sports law, is the domination of the early days of the campaign by one issue – public funding for a new arena for the Calgary Flames. The Flames are Calgary’s National Hockey League (NHL) team, and they play in the Scotiabank Saddledome. More...




Illegally obtained evidence in match-fixing cases: The Turkish perspective - By Oytun Azkanar

Editor’s Note: Oytun Azkanar holds an LLB degree from Anadolu University in Turkey and an LLM degree from the University of Melbourne. He is currently studying Sports Management at the Anadolu University.

 

Introduction

On 19 October 2017, the Turkish Professional Football Disciplinary Committee (Disciplinary Committee) rendered an extraordinary decision regarding the fixing of the game between Manisaspor and Şanlıurfaspor played on 14 May 2017. The case concerned an alleged match-fixing agreement between Elyasa Süme (former Gaziantepspor player), İsmail Haktan Odabaşı and Gökhan Sazdağı (Manisaspor players). The Disciplinary Committee acknowledged that the evidence relevant for proving the match-fixing allegations was obtained illegally and therefore inadmissible, and the remaining evidence was not sufficient to establish that the game was fixed. Before discussing the allegations, it is important to note that the decision is not only significant for Turkish football but is also crucial to the distinction between disciplinary and criminal proceedings in sports. More...

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

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

International and European Sports Law – Monthly Report – October 2017. By Tomáš Grell

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

Multi-Club Ownership in European Football – Part II: The Concept of Decisive Influence in the Red Bull Case – By Tomáš Grell

 

Introduction 

The first part of this two-part blog on multi-club ownership in European football outlined the circumstances leading to the adoption of the initial rule(s) aimed at ensuring the integrity of the UEFA club competitions (Original Rule) and retraced the early existence of such rule(s), focusing primarily on the complaints brought before the Court of Arbitration for Sport and the European Commission by the English company ENIC plc. This second part will, in turn, introduce the relevant rule as it is currently enshrined in Article 5 of the UCL Regulations 2015-18 Cycle, 2017/18 Season (Current Rule). It will then explore how the UEFA Club Financial Control Body (CFCB) interpreted and applied the Current Rule in the Red Bull case, before drawing some concluding remarks.  More...

Multi-Club Ownership in European Football – Part I: General Introduction and the ENIC Saga – By Tomáš Grell

Editor’s note: Tomáš Grell holds an LL.M. in Public International Law from Leiden University. He contributes to the work of the ASSER International Sports Law Centre as a research intern.

 

Introduction

On 13 September 2017, more than 40,000 people witnessed the successful debut of the football club RasenBallsport Leipzig (RB Leipzig) in the UEFA Champions League (UCL) against AS Monaco. In the eyes of many supporters of the German club, the mere fact of being able to participate in the UEFA's flagship club competition was probably more important than the result of the game itself. This is because, on the pitch, RB Leipzig secured their place in the 2017/18 UCL group stage already on 6 May 2017 after an away win against Hertha Berlin. However, it was not until 16 June 2017 that the UEFA Club Financial Control Body (CFCB) officially allowed RB Leipzig to participate in the 2017/18 UCL alongside its sister club, Austrian giants FC Red Bull Salzburg (RB Salzburg).[1] As is well known, both clubs have (had) ownership links to the beverage company Red Bull GmbH (Red Bull), and therefore it came as no surprise that the idea of two commonly owned clubs participating in the same UCL season raised concerns with respect to the competition's integrity. 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

Pistorius revisited: A comment on the CAS award in Blake Leeper v. IAAF - By Marjolaine Viret

On 23 October 2020, a panel of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (‘CAS’) rendered an award in the matter opposing Mr Blake Leeper (‘Mr Leeper’ or ‘the Athlete’) to the International Association of Athletics Federation (‘IAAF’).[1] The CAS panel was asked to make a ruling on the validity of the IAAF rule that places on a disabled athlete the burden to prove that a mechanical aid used to compete in IAAF-sanctioned competitions does not give such athlete an overall competitive advantage.

The award is remarkable in that it declared the shift of the burden of proof on the athlete invalid, and reworded the rule so that the burden is shifted back on the IAAF to show the existence of a competitive advantage. Thus, while the IAAF won its case against Blake Leeper as the panel found that the sport governing body had discharged its burden in casu, the outcome can be viewed as a victory for disabled athletes looking to participate in IAAF-sanctioned events. It remains to be seen how this victory will play out in practice. Beyond the immediate issue at stake, the case further presents an illustration of how – all things equal – assigning the burden of proof can be decisive for the real-life impact of a policy involving complex scientific matters, as much as the actual legal prerequisites of the underlying rules.

This article focuses on some key aspects of the award that relate to proof issues in the context of assessing competitive advantage. Specifically, the article seeks to provide some food for thought regarding burden and degree of proof of an overall advantage, the contours of the test of ‘overall advantage’ designed by the CAS panel and its possible bearing in practice, and potential impact of the ruling on other areas of sports regulations such as anti-doping.

The award also analyses broader questions regarding the prohibition of discrimination in the regulation of sports, as well as the interplay with international human rights instruments such as the European Convention on Human Rights (‘ECHR’), which are not explored in depth here. More...

Revisiting FIFA’s Training Compensation and Solidarity Mechanism - Part. 2: The African Reality – 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.


Having considered the history and justifications for the FIFA training compensation and solidarity mechanisms in my previous blog, I will now consider these systems in the African context. This appears to be a worthwhile undertaking given these global mechanisms were largely a result of European influence, so understanding their (extraterritorial) impact beyond the EU seems particularly important. Moreover, much has been written about the “muscle drain” affecting African football and the need for such drain to either be brought to a halt, or, more likely and perhaps more practical, to put in place an adequate system of redistribution to ensure the flourishing of African football that has essentially acted as a nursery for European football for at least a century. In the present blog, I intend to draw on my experiences as a football agent to expand on how FIFA’s redistributive mechanisms function in practice when an African player signs in Europe via one of the many kinds of entities that develop or purport to develop talent in Africa. I will throughout address the question of whether these mechanisms are effective in a general sense and more specifically in relation to their operation in Africa.More...



International and European Sports Law – Monthly Report – October 2020 - 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.


The Headlines

Aguero and Massey-Ellis incident: An Opportunity for Change and Education?

In mid-October a clip went viral of Argentinian star Sergio Aguero putting his hands on sideline referee, Sian Massey-Ellis. A heated debate ensued in many circles, some claiming that Aguero’s conduct was commonplace, others taking aim at the appropriateness of the action, around players touching official and a male touching a female with an unsolicited arm around the back, the squeeze and pull in. Putting the normative arguments aside for a moment, the irony of the debate was that all sides had a point. Football, almost exclusively, has grown a culture of acceptance for touching officials despite the regulations. Male officials who have let such conduct slide, have arguably let their female colleague down in this instance.

Whilst a partial defence of Aguero might be that this kind of conduct takes place regularly, the incident could serve as a learning experience. If Massey-Ellis’ reaction was not enough, the backlash from some of the public might provide Aguero and other players the lesson, that touching a woman in this way is not acceptable.

Returning to football, the respect and protection of officials in sport, the key here appears to be cracking down on touching officials entirely. This is not a foreign concept and football need only look at the rugby codes. Under no circumstances does the regulations or the culture permit that a player from the rugby codes touch a referee. It is likely the case that the obvious extra level of respect for officials in these sports derives from a firm culture of no touching, no crowding officials, communicating with officials through the team captain only, with harsh sanctions if one does not comply.

The Football Association of England has decided no action was necessary, raising questions of how seriously they take the safety of officials, and gender issues. This is ultimately a global football issue though, so the confederations or international bodies may need step in to ensure the protections that appear at best fragile.  


Rugby Trans issue

The World Rugby Transgender guideline has been released and contains a comprehensive unpacking of the science behind much of the regulatory framework. Despite many experts applauding World Rugby on the guidelines and the extensive project to reach them, the England Rugby Football Union is the first to defy the World Rugby ruling and transgender women will still be allowed to play women’s rugby at all non-international levels of the game in England for the foreseeable future. This clash between national bodies and the international body on an important issue is concerning and will undoubtedly be one to keep an eye on.

 

CAS rejects the appeal of Munir El Haddadi and the Fédération Royale Marocaine de Football (FRMF)

The refusal to authorise a footballer to change national federation is in the headlines with the CAS dismissing the appeal of the player and Moroccan federation, confirming the original determination of the FIFA Players’ Status Committee.

This has been given considerable recent attention and seemingly worth following, perhaps best summed up by FIFA Director of Football Regulatory, James Kitching, where in a tweet he notes: “The new eligibility rules adopted by the FIFA Congress on 18 September 2020 have passed their first test. We will be publishing our commentary on the rules in the next fortnight. Watch this space.” More...



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. More...



Invalidity of forced arbitration clauses in organised sport…Germany strikes back! - By Björn Hessert

Editor's note: Björn Hessert is a research assistant at the University of Zurich and a lawyer admitted to the German bar.

 

The discussion revolving around the invalidity of arbitration clauses in organised sport in favour of national and international sports arbitral tribunals has been at the centre of the discussion in German courtrooms.[1] After the decisions of the German Federal Tribunal[2] (“BGH”) and the European Court of Human Rights[3] (“ECtHR”) in the infamous Pechstein case, this discussion seemed to have finally come to an end. Well…not according to the District Court (LG) of Frankfurt.[4] On 7 October 2020, the District Court rendered a press release in which the court confirmed its jurisdiction due to the invalidity of the arbitration clause contained in the contracts between two beach volleyball players and the German Volleyball Federation[5] (“DVV”) – but one step at a time. More...

International and European Sports Law – Monthly Report – September - October 2020 - By Rhys Lenarduzzi


The Headlines


Human rights and sport  

Caster Semenya

Human rights issues are taking the headlines in the sporting world at present. A short time ago, Caster Semenya’s appeal at the Swiss Federal Tribunal against the CAS decision was dismissed, perhaps raising more questions than answering them. Within the last few days however, the message from the Semenya camp has been that this is not over (see here).  See the contributions from a range of authors at Asser International Sports Law Blog for a comprehensive analysis of the Semenya case(s) to date.

Navid Afkari

As the sporting world heard of the execution of Iranian Wrestler Navid Afkari, a multitude of legal and ethical questions bubbled to the surface. Not least of all and not a new question: what is the responsibility of sport and the governing bodies therein, in the space of human rights?  And, if an athlete is to acquire a high profile through sporting excellence, does that render athletes vulnerable to be made an example of and therefore in need of greater protection than is currently afforded to them? There are differing views on how to proceed. Consider the following from the World Players Association (Navid Afkari: How sport must respond) and that from the IOC (IOC Statement on the execution of wrestler Navid Afkari) which shows no indication through this press releases and other commentary, of undertaking the measures demanded by World Players Association and other socially active organisations. (See also, Benjamin Weinthal - Olympics refuses to discuss Iranian regime’s murder of wrestler).

Yelena Leuchanka

As this is written and relevant to the above, Yelena Leuchanka is behind bars for her participation in protests, resulting in several sporting bodies calling for her immediate release and for reform in the sporting world around how it ought to deal with these issues. As a member of the “Belarus women's national basketball team, a former player at several WNBA clubs in the United States and a two-time Olympian”, Leuchanka has quite the profile and it is alleged that she is being made an example of. (see here)

Uighur Muslims and Beijing Winter Olympics

British Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab does not rule out Winter Olympics boycott over Uighur Muslims. ‘The foreign secretary said it was his "instinct to separate sport from diplomacy and politics" but that there "comes a point where that might not be possible".’ Though Raab’s comments are fresh, this issue is shaping as a “watch this space” scenario, as other governments might echo a similar sentiment as a result of mounting pressure from human rights activist groups and similar, in lead up to the Winter Games. More...



The Specificity of Sport - Comparing the Case-Law of the European Court of Justice and of the Court of Arbitration for Sport - Part 2 - By Stefano Bastianon

Editor’s note: Stefano Bastianon is Associate Professor in EU Law and EU sports law at the University of Bergamo and lawyer admitted to the Busto Arsizio bar.


1. EU law and the CAS case-law

Bearing in mind these questions, it is possible to affirm that under EU law, the specificity of sport

i) refers to the inherent characteristics of sport that set it apart from other economic and social activities and which have to be taken into account in assessing the compatibility of sporting rules with EU law; and

ii) under EU law these inherent characteristics of sport must be  considered on a case by case  basis, per the Wouters test as developed by the ECJ in the Meca Medina ruling.

Both aspects can be found in the CAS case-law too, although the CAS case-law shows some remarkable differences and peculiarities. From a general point of view, the application of the principle of specificity of sport in the CAS case-law represents an aspect of the more general issue related to the application of EU law by the CAS. However, the purpose of this paper is not to fully examine if and to what extent the CAS arbitrators apply EU law rules on free movement and competition; rather, the aim is to analyse the way the CAS deals with the concept of the specificity of sport, highlighting similarities and differences compared to the ECJ.

Taking for granted that ‘a CAS panel is not only allowed, but also obliged to deal with the issues involving the application of [EU] law’,[1] as far as the compatibility of sporting rules with EU law is concerned the CAS case-law shows different degrees of engagement. For instance, in the ENIC award concerning the so-called UEFA integrity rule, the CAS panel went through a complete competition-law analysis in perfect harmony with the Wouters et al. ruling by the ECJ.[2] On the contrary, in the above-quoted Mutu case, the issue of compatibility of the FIFA’s transfer regulations with EU competition law was analysed in a rather simple way, merely stating that the FIFA rules at stake were not anti-competitive under EU competition law without giving any reason to support this conclusion. More recently, in the Galatasaray and Milan A.C. awards, concerning the UEFA’s financial fair-play regulations, the CAS  applied a detailed analysis of EU competition law. However, in both cases, according to the CAS the proportionate character of sanctions listed in the UEFA’s financial fair-play regulations cannot affect the evaluation of the legitimacy of these regulations under Art. 101 TFEU. This conclusion represents a clear breaking point with respect to the ECJ case-law, according to which the evaluation of the restrictive effects of a rule necessarily presupposes the analysis of the proportionate character of the sanction imposed in the event of a violation of that rule as well.[3]   In regard to EU free movement, the CAS case-law tends to be less analytical in terms of the principle of proportionality. For instance, in the RFC Seraing award  which concerned both EU free movement and competition law, the CAS panel mainly focused on the legitimate objectives of the contested rule (FIFA’s ban on Third-Party Ownership – TPO), merely affirming that the restrictive measures under EU free movement were justified and inherent in the pursuit of those objectives.More...



The Specificity of Sport - Comparing the Case-Law of the European Court of Justice and of the Court of Arbitration for Sport - Part 1 - By Stefano Bastianon

Editor’s note: Stefano Bastianon is Associate Professor in EU Law and EU sports law at the University of Bergamo and lawyer admitted to the Busto Arsizio bar.*

 

1. Introduction.

The so-called specificity of sport represents one of the most debated, if not the most debated, but still undefined issue under European Union (EU) law. A noteworthy peculiarity is that the specificity of sport is frequently mentioned in several legislative and political documents issued by EU institutions, however it is not expressly referred to in any judgment by the European Court of Justice (ECJ).Conversely, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) case-law on Art. 17 of FIFA Regulations on status and transfer of players (RSTP) has repeatedly and expressly referred to the specificity of sport.[1] Apparently, the concept of specificity of sport has different meanings and purposes in the ECJ and CAS jurisprudence. In this blog (divided in two parts), I will try to analyse those two different meanings and to what extent the CAS case-law is consistent with the concept of specificity of sport as elaborated under EU law. More...

SFT rejects Semenya appeal: nothing changes - By Andy Brown

Editor's note: Andy Brown is a freelance journalist who has been writing about the governance of sport for over 15 years. He is the editor of The Sports Integrity Initiative where this blog appeared first.


For the last three days, I have been struggling with what to write regarding the Swiss Federal Tribunal’s (SFT) Decision to dismiss a challenge from Caster Semenya and Athletics South Africa (ASA) against the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s (CAS) Decision to dismiss a challenge to the Eligibility Regulations for the Female Classification (Athletes with Differences of Sex Development), otherwise known as the DSD Regulations. From reading World Athletics’ statement welcoming the ruling, one could be forgiven for thinking that it had won a major trial. Sports journalists, accustomed to covering events now curtailed by Covid-19, focus on the fact that Semenya has ‘lost’ her case against the DSD Regulations. Neither assertion is strictly accurate.

The SFT’s powers to review the CAS’s ruling are severely limited. It can only consider whether the CAS Decision violates ‘widely recognised principles of public order’ on Swiss public policy grounds. The SFT has only reversed a decision based on a a violation of Swiss public policy once in 30 years.

The SFT didn’t reconsider the evidence put forward to the CAS. ‘For there to be incompatibility with public policy, it is not enough that the evidence has been poorly assessed, that a finding of fact is manifestly false or that a rule of law has been clearly violated’, its Decision reads. ‘The only question to be resolved is in fact whether or not the verdict of the CAS renders the referred award incompatible with substantive public policy’. 

There were questions about whether the appeal from Semenya and ASA qualified to be reviewed by the SFT in the first place. World Athletics is a private organisation headquartered in Monaco, and the SFT was troubled as to whether such a complaint brought by a South African athlete against an overseas private organisation is capable of violating Swiss public policy.

‘It is doubtful whether the prohibition of discriminatory measures falls within the scope of the restrictive concept of public order when the discrimination is committed by a private person and occurs in relations between individuals’, the Decision quotes from its pervious 29 July 2019 Decision, which refused the ASA’s request to provisionally suspend the application of the DSD Regulations. ‘In any event, there is no need to examine this question further here since […] the award under appeal does not in any way establish discrimination which would be contrary to public order’

The SFT ruled that the CAS was correct to uphold conditions of participation for 46 XY DSD athletes in order to guarantee fair competition for certain disciplines in female athletics. In doing so, the SFT was ruling on whether the decision taken by the CAS violates public policy, based only on the complaints brought forward by Semenya and ASA. 

Semenya and the ASA had challenged the CAS Decision based around the idea that the DSD Regulations are discriminatory. The CAS held that they are discriminatory, but agreed with the IAAF (as World Athletics was then named) that such discrimination was necessary to protect its female category. The SFT ruled that even if the discriminatory rules of a private organisation such as the IAAF were considered able to pose a threat to public order, Semenya and the ASA had failed to demonstrate that the CAS Decision was so egregious that it posed such a threat.

‘Caster Semenya essentially alleges a violation of the prohibition of discrimination’, reads the Swiss Federal Supreme Court statement. ‘The CAS has issued a binding decision based on the unanimous opinion of the experts who were consulted that testosterone is the main factor for the different performance levels of the sexes in athletics; according to the CAS, women with the “46 XY DSD” gene variant have a testosterone level comparable to men, which gives them an insurmountable competitive advantage and enables them to beat female athletes without the “46 XY DSD” variant. Based on these findings, the CAS decision cannot be challenged. Fairness in sport is a legitimate concern and forms a central principle of sporting competition. It is one of the pillars on which competition is based. The European Court of Human Rights also attaches particular importance to the aspect of fair competition. In addition to this significant public interest, the CAS rightly considered the other relevant interests, namely the private interests of the female athletes running in the “women” category.’

Such strong support for the principle behind its DSD Regulations was rightly welcomed by World Athletics. Its statement asserted that the SFT ‘acknowledged that innate characteristics can distort the fairness of competitions’. I would argue that the SFT ruling didn’t do this, but rather found that a CAS Decision asserting this didn’t violate Swiss public policy. Semantics, perhaps.

Likewise, when World Athletics quotes the SFT Decision as confirming that ‘It is above all up to the sports federations to determine to what extent a particular physical advantage is likely to distort competition and, if necessary, to introduce legally admissible eligibility rules to remedy this state of affairs’, it is paraphrasing two texts quoted in the SFT Decision. The first is ‘La qualification juridique des rules autonomes des organizations sportive’ by Jérôme Jaquier, 2004. ‘Inborn characteristics specific to athletes in a particular group can also distort the fairness of competition’, the SFT Decision quotes from Jaquier. ‘When they enact regulations, the objective of sports federations is to ensure fair and equitable competition’.

The context of the second quote, from ‘Sportrecht – Berücksichtigung der Interessen des Sports in der Rechtsordnung’ by Martin Kaiser, 2011, is even more interesting. It is preceded with a statement from the Swiss Federal Supreme Court, which reads: ‘It is not for the Federal Court to make, abstractly, comparisons between the disciplines to assess whether a particular athlete has an advantage that makes sporting competition meaningless’

‘It is above all for the sporting federations to determine to what extent a particular physical advantage is liable to distort competition’, the SFT Decision quotes from Kaiser. ‘And, if so, to establish legally admissible eligibility rules to remedy this state of affairs’. 

Again, such details might be considered as semantics. But – I would argue – important semantics. Reading the media maelstrom that has resulted from the SFT Decision, one could be forgiven for assuming that Semenya has lost her case, and has no chance of ever defending her 800m title. However, a statement issued by her lawyers reveals that she intends to challenge the ruling in European and domestic courts.

“I am very disappointed by this ruling, but refuse to let World Athletics drug me or stop me from being who I am”, the statement continues. “Excluding female athletes or endangering our health solely because of our natural abilities puts World Athletics on the wrong side of history. I will continue to fight for the human rights of female athletes, both on the track and off the track, until we can all run free the way we were born. I know what is right and will do all I can to protect basic human rights, for young girls everywhere.” More...



The Semenya Decision of the Swiss Federal Tribunal: Human Rights on the Bench - By Faraz Shahlaei

Editor's note: Faraz Shahlaei is a JSD Candidate at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles. His research and teaching interests are public international law, international sports law, international human rights and dispute resolution.

 

The issue of international human rights was a central contention in Caster Semenya case ever since the start of her legal battle against the regulations of the IAAF. However, the human rights arguments were poorly considered in the two proceedings related to this case. To put it in perspective, it is like having a key player nailed to the bench throughout the whole game; no coach ever tried to give it a chance while it had the potential to be the game changer for all parties.

In 2019, the Human Rights Council, the inter-governmental human rights body of the UN, expressed concern over issues of discrimination in sports in particular regarding IAAF female classification regulations. In June 2020, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights submitted a report to the United Nations Human Rights Council on the “Intersection of Race and Gender Discrimination in Sport”. The report draws a detailed picture of how human rights in the Semenya case have been violated and also elaborates on the inherent problem of addressing human rights issues in alternative dispute resolution mechanisms favored by the sport governing bodies. However, despite an in-depth discussion of Caster Semenya’s case at both the CAS and then the SFT, the question of human rights, a key concern and a fundamental pillar of the case, hasn’t been adequately answered yet! More...


Asser International Sports Law Blog | Sports arbitration and EU Competition law: the Belgian competition authority enters the arena. By Marine Montejo

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

Sports arbitration and EU Competition law: the Belgian competition authority enters the arena. 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 14 July 2016, the Belgian competition authority refused to grant provisional measures to the White Star Woluwe Football Club (“The White Star”), which would have allowed it to compete in the Belgian top football division. The club was refused a licence to compete in the above mentioned competition first by the Licences Commission of the national football federation (“Union Royale Belge des Sociétés de Foootball Association” or “URBSFA”) and then by the Belgian court of arbitration for sports (“Cour Belge d’Arbitrage pour le Sport” or “CBAS”). The White Star lodged a complaint to the national competition authority (“NCA”) and requested provisional measures. The Belgian competition authority rendered a much-overlooked decision (besides one commentary) in which it seems to accept the reviewability of an arbitral award’s conformity with EU competition law (articles 101 and 102 TFEU). 


1. Licencing mechanism in football and EU competition law

In April 2016, the White Star won the 2015-2016 Belgian’s football second division championship (until then known as the “Proximus League”, but as of the 2016-2017 season renamed “Division 1B” or “D1 B”) and, as such, was, on sporting grounds, expected to accede to the top division (“Division 1A” or “D1 A”, but previously called “Jupiler ProLeague”).

However, in order to be allowed to compete in the D1 A championship (as well as for the D1 B), all professional football clubs have to obtain a licence under the URBSFA’s regulation (“federal regulation”). This licence is granted if the club complies with of the following criteria:

  • Article 406 provides for the so-called ‘continuity obligation’ which, in a nutshell, aims at ensuring the financial stability of the club for the entire season to come.

  • Article 407 draws up a list of general conditions by which all professional clubs have to comply with.

  • Articles 408 and 410 provide for specific conditions for either D1 A and D1 B clubs.

On 12 April 2016, the URBSFA Licences Commission (“Commission des Licences”) refused to grant the D1 A or the D1 B licences to the White Star to the effect that the club did not comply with the general conditions provided in article 407. According to the Licenses Commission, the club suffers from chronical financial problems (including unpaid debts) and it had no guarantees of having access to its stadium for the upcoming season as no agreement had been reached at the time with the municipality. The White Star appealed the decision to the CBAS, which rendered its arbitral award on 6 May (award published on 13 May). The arbitral tribunal annulled the first decision of the Licences Commission, insofar as at the time of the hearing the White Star provided further evidence that it complied with the general conditions. However, the CBAS finally decided not to grant the licence, because the club’s financial stability was not ensured and, as a consequence, it did not comply with the ‘continuity obligation’ provided in article 406. The arbitral tribunal highlights the club’s chaotic financial situation in its award[1] and concluded that the club could not be granted either a D1 A or D1 B licences. Consequently, the club should be relegated to the third division and be subject to amateur status.

The White Star sought provisional measures before the NCA in order to be granted a professional licence and participate in the D1 A 2016-2017 championship. To grant an interim measure, the NCA has to make a prima facie assessment of the alleged infraction which, in this case, relates to the licencing system. The question is whether a refusal to grant a licence to a football club, which would allow it to participate in the first division infringes competition law. Without prejudice to the final decision, the NCA recalled that the licence system at stake had already been assessed and found compatible with EU competition law provisions in previous decisions.[2] Furthermore, the NCA indirectly assessed[3] the modification of the system that was decided in 2015 by the Belgian federation, which provides for stronger control over financial conditions and continuity obligations. It is widely acknowledged that a licencing system has a restrictive effect because it limits access to football competitions. Without said licence, a club cannot enter the relevant market. However, those effects were found to be inherent to the organisation of sport competitions (Meca Medina, C-519/04, 18/07/2006) and proportionate to its objective, i.e. to make sure that all clubs are able to sustain their participation in the competition, as a financial default of one club during the season would threaten the position of the competition and of the others clubs. Subsequently, the Belgian competition authority decided that it was not established prima facie that there was a breach of competition law provisions either with regard to the ‘continuity obligation’ or its application. 

The surprising aspect of the decision is that the NCA envisaged an alternative and less restrictive measure by integrating the White Star into the second division without it being requested by the club in its complaint. Both D1 A and D1 B licences were refused because after the 2015 modification of the regulation, the criteria for both divisions converged in order to professionalize the second division. This means that if the D1 A licence is refused, the probability is relatively high that the other licence (D1 B) will be refused as well and that the club will be relegated to the third division. The NCA concluded that this arrangement was inherent to the modification of the regulation and that it was not, prima facie, a disproportionate restriction. The decision also stated that the balance between the White Star’s interests and those of other clubs would be compromised if no breach is found in the final decision.[4] 


2. Sports arbitral awards and EU competition law, an uneasy relationship

The most interesting part of the decision is on the interaction between EU competition law and sports arbitration. The Belgian football federation’s regulation provides for the exclusive competence of the CBAS to appeal the Licences Commission’s decision (article 421). The arbitration tribunal then has the duty to conduct a further factual and legal examination of the case. The award is still amenable to an action for annulment in front of the First Instance Tribunal (“Tribunal de Première Instance”). The possible grounds are listed exhaustively in article 1717§2 of the Belgian Judicial Code (“Code Judiciaire Belge”). This procedure is not unknown in sports law and is rather similar to the system in force at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (“CAS”) in appeal procedures following a sports federation’s decision where the regulation of the body concerned expressly provides for it. Judicial review of the CAS award is also available before the Swiss Federal Tribunal on a very limited number of grounds. 

Challenges to arbitral awards concerning sports matters on EU competition law grounds is not a novelty either. In the past, the European Commission (“Commission”) and the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”) received complaints on EU competition law grounds involving arbitral awards rendered by the CAS. All these cases have one thing in common: both the Commission and the CJEU decisions did not refer directly to the arbitral award and went on instead to examine whether the rules of the sport governing body (“SGB”) on which the awards were grounded were compatible with EU competition law provisions. Already with the Meca Medina case the CJEU limited its assessment to FINA (International Swimming Federation) anti-doping regulations. The same approach was used by the Commission in the ENIC case referring to the UEFA rule on multiple ownership of football clubs (COMP/37 806 ENIC Plc/UEFA, 25/06/2002) and the Cañas case regarding the ATP anti-doping code (COMP/39471, Certain joueurs de tennis professionnels v. Agence mondiale antidopage, ATP et CIAS, 12/10/2009). In those three cases, the SGB’s rules were found compatible with EU competition law provisions as long as they are proportionate to their objective, which was deemed the case in such instances. However, if the rule at stake had been found in breach of articles 101 or 102 TFEU, the award would be contrary to EU competition law as well.

The Court and the Commission are reluctant to give way to challenges against arbitral awards based on competition law provisions.[5] In Meca Medina, the Commission and the Court both criticized the applicants’ choice to submit a complaint based on EU competition law while they did not appeal the CAS award in front of the Swiss Federal Tribunal.[6] In Cañas, the Commission endorsed CAS as a legitimate independent institution whose role as a sport arbitral institution is comparable to that of national courts.[7] It is particularly striking that the Commission is reluctant to be seen as an alternative appeal mechanism against CAS awards[8], and here probably lies the explanation as to why it restricts its assessment to the SGB’s rule and leaves the arbitral award aside.

 

3. The White Star decision, a new twist in the debate

The Belgian competition authority faces the same type of challenge in the White Star case in which the arbitral award was an appeal of the Belgian football federation’s decision based on the federal regulation providing for a licence mechanism and, as a consequence, restricting the access for the club to the market of top division football matches. Had the NCA followed the Commission and the CJEU practice, it would have ignored the award and directly assessed the SGB’s rule under EU competition law. 

Yet, the Belgian competition authority did not leave the award aside. To apply EU competition law provisions to that case, the NCA did not have any difficulty in considering that the football federation is an association of undertakings (nothing new and revolutionary here), and quickly concluded that the CBAS is neither an undertaking nor an association of undertakings following the Commission assessment in Cañas[9]. However, and the innovative aspect of the decision lies here, it considers that the interpretation of the URBSFA regulation enacted by the football federation, an association of undertakings and as such bound by competition law provisions, may be a restrictive practice even though the CBAS is not in itself subject to competition law.[10] The licensing requirements provided by the federal regulation are subject to competition law scrutiny because the URBSFA is an association of undertakings. The arbitral award annulled and replaced the URBSFA Licences Commission’s decision[11], as the CBAS has unlimited jurisdiction to review the case on appeal. As a consequence, the only decision still existing is the arbitral award. Therefore, it seems that the Belgian competition authority considers that the effect of the award is to implement the URBSFA’s regulation which means that the arbitral award is ‘detached’ from the arbitral tribunal and deemed attributable to the football association and, as a consequence, may potentially constitute a restrictive practice[12]. The new and important aspect of the decision being that the NCA will then review both the URBSFA regulations and its interpretation by the CBAS in its arbitral award, meaning that the Belgian competition authority will also assess the arbitral award. 

An explanation for this innovative argumentation is probably the fact that this case is a request for interim measures related to an individual decision, i.e. the arbitral award. The Belgian NCA, contrary to the established practice of EU institutions in similar cases, did not deal with it as an indirect challenge to the award via the URBSFA regulation. The NCA justifies its reasoning by saying that it must protect the effectiveness (“effet utile”) of later decisions on the merits of the case.[13] It therefore recalls that its role is to enforce competition law provisions which are a matter of public policy based on the CJEU’s Eco Swiss (C-126/97) decision. This case concerns an action for annulment in commercial arbitration, but its findings can be extended to sports arbitration. Following the Eco Swiss jurisprudence, the responsibility for reviewing compliance with European public policy rules lies with the national courts of the Member States and not with the arbitrators. This means that it is for the judges to decide whether an arbitral award is in conformity with EU competition law and set it aside if it breaches these provisions. 

The Belgian competition authority extended that jurisprudence to its own assessment of the compatibility of the URBSFA regulation with EU competition law.[14] Hence, if it had considered the regulation in breach of EU competition law, the award itself would have been found contrary to the same provisions and set aside. This means that, in the end, the NCA would have the ability to set aside the arbitral award without the interference of a (national) court in the meaning of the Eco Swiss judgment. Indeed, if the SGB’s rules are contrary to articles 101 or 102 TFEU, then the award is too.[15] The NCA decision will, consequently, lead to the annulment of the arbitral decision which, in turn, will not be enforced. This is also important in the light of the Belgian competition authority decision that is, while attributing the award to the SGB, also allowing a control on the interpretation of the licensing rules by the CBAS.

Nonetheless, the Belgian competition agrees with the CJEU and the Commission regarding the competition law arguments raised against the arbitral procedure. The White Star challenged the ‘forced’ appeal procedure in front of the CBAS provided by the federal regulation as well as the independence and impartiality of the CBAS on competition law grounds. The CBAS invoked the findings in the recent Pechstein case (Bundesgerichtshof, KZR 6/15, 07/06/2016), very similar to the one at stake, to argue that the procedural characteristics in sports arbitration had already been found compatible with EU competition law. At the EU level, the Commission already considered that a forced arbitration clause would only constitute a breach of EU competition law if it supports a restrictive practice, but not on its own (see Cañas, p. 41). The Belgian competition authority, in turn, considers that there is not a prima facie competition law breach because of the possibility to appeal the arbitral award to the Tribunal of First Instance, a national court.[16] The argumentation on this point is limited. However, one should remember that this is an interim measure decision and the NCA is only checking prima facie restrictions. 

Finally, the Belgian competition authority did not quite reply to the CBAS argument stating that preliminary measures would endanger the uniformity and organisation of sports arbitration if granted in that case. It recalled that in a previous case of interim relief regarding a CBAS sentence, a judge declared of its own motion that it had no jurisdiction to hear the case (Première instance du Hainaut, Division de Mons, 09/05/2016), but the Tribunal of First Instance did have jurisdiction by law. The question is whether the NCA created a third alternative of recourses against arbitral awards in addition to the one in front of the First Instance Tribunal. The NCA made sure to state that it is not an appeal body[17] and, as such, its only preoccupation is to scrutinize that competition law provisions are applied. Therefore, the NCA did not create an alternative way of appeal, but the attribution of an arbitral award to a sport federation is a notable move. The CBAS argues in its conclusions[18] that the judge in the proceeding detailed in article 1717 of the Belgian Code of Justice is as competent as the NCA to hear EU competition law arguments in the case of an appeal (where the Eco Swiss judgement applies). 

The CBAS argument is not entirely convincing. If this decision appears to be as important, it is because the NCA will, in most cases, have a greater capacity than a judge to decide if there is a competition law breach. On another hand, a question is raised about the extent of the control of the judge over public policy arguments in the case of a legal action against the enforcement of an arbitral award. For example, the French Cour de Cassation requires a control limited to a manifest error of assessment (Cour de Cassation, Chambre civile 1, of 13 October 1981, 80-11.098, Publié au bulletin). Indeed, in the Belgian case the NCA will exercise a more stringent control than just the identification of a flagrant infringement of competition law provisions. To add to the debate, in a recent case[19] Advocate General Whatelet defended a stronger control of the judge over the compatibility of arbitral awards with EU competition law.[20] The CJEU did not endorse this position but did not reject it either. The question whether arbitral awards and the rules they are based on will become subject to greater scrutiny under articles 101 and 102 TFEU is still pending. 

Consequently, the Belgian competition authority extended the EU competition law control over sports arbitration to cover the specific interpretation of the SGB’s regulations by an arbitral tribunal. As a consequence, and if this reasoning is confirmed, lawyers might be able to challenge an arbitral award directly with the national competition authorities if it appears to interpret the SGB’s regulations in contradiction with EU competition law.

It should be noted that this procedure is only about provisional measures, but the legal reasoning used by the Belgian competition authority shakes the already shaky grounds of sports arbitration. After the Pechstein and SV Wihelmshaven cases in German courts, sports arbitration is anew put to the test based on EU law considerations. The Belgium decision went unnoticed because it is in French and the regulations at stake were not deemed contrary to competition law. However, if more national competition authorities follow a similar reasoning, more challenges of arbitral awards in sport matters will necessarily arise. The question that remains open is whether the Commission itself will welcome such a change or not.




[1] « Force est de constater qu’il s’agit là d’un ensemble de faits précis, graves et concordants qui remettent fondamentalement en cause l’affirmation selon laquelle la continuité du club peut être assurée pour la saison 2016-2017 », Cour Belge d’Arbitrage pour le Sport, 13/05/2016, p.23.

[2] See for example decision 2004-E/A-25, 04/03/2004.

[3] The NCA organises an informal procedure with the ProLeague, the Belgian professional football teams’ association, to monitor the sale of the media rights from 2005. In this framework the NCA had to examine the modification of the football federation’s regulation in 2015. See, for further explanation, Autorité Belge de la Concurrence, 14/07/2016 points 22-62, p. 65-69.

[4] « … la balance des intérêts de la Requérante et des autres clubs risque d’être compromise au cas où une infraction ne serait pas établie », Autorité Belge de la Concurrence, 14/07/2016 point 81, p. 177.

[5] For an in-depth analysis, see Antoine Duval, “The Court of arbitration for sport and EU Law: Chronicle of Encounter”, (2015) 22, Maastrich Journal of European and Comparative Law, 2, p. 224-255.

[6] Supra, p. 251.

[7] Supra, p. 252.

[8] Supra, p. 253.

[9] « (…) Le rôle du TAS est comparable à celui d’un tribunal. Il rend des décisions arbitrales qui ont généralement la même force que des jugements de juridictions de droit commun. L’exercice de ces activités de jugement, ainsi que l’administration et le financement de ces activités par le CIAS, ne peuvent être considérés comme constituant une activité économique (…) Par conséquent, il semble difficile de qualifier le CIAS (ou le TAS) (…) d’entreprises ou d’associations d’entreprises au sens de l’article 81 et/ou 82 du traité CE. », COMP/39471, Certain joueurs de tennis professionnels v. Agence mondiale antidopage, ATP et CIAS, 12/10/2009, point 23.

[10] « […] Le Collège ne considère dès lors pas manifestement déraisonnable de penser que l’Autorité puisse constater qu’une interprétation d’un règlement qui entre dans le champ d’application des règles de concurrence, constitue une pratique restrictive même sans qu’elle ne soit sanctionnable dans le chef de l’instance qui l’a interprété […] », Autorité Belge de la Concurrence, 14/07/2016 point 53, p. 172.

[11] « Met à néant la décision prononcée par la Commission des Licences de l’ASBL URBSFA… », Cour Belge d’Arbitrage pour le Sport, 13/05/2016, p. 32.

[12] See supra 10 and « (…) [Le Collège] peut dès lors apprécier dans le cadre de cette procédure en matière de mesures provisoires, prima facie, la conformité avec le droit de la concurrence du Règlement fédéral et de son application et effets dans la mesure où le refus de licence continue à produire ses effets, même si la décision de la commission de l’URBSFA est formellement remplacée par la sentence arbitrale de la CBAS. », Autorité Belge de la Concurrence, 14/07/2016 point 53, p. 172.

[13] « […] de protéger dans le cadre de cette procédure en matière de mesures provisoires l’effet utile de la décision à prendre dans le cadre de la procédure de fond. […] », Autorité Belge de la Concurrence, 14/07/2016 point 53, p. 172.

[14] « Le Collège fait remarquer qu’une autorité de concurrence est chargée de la mise en œuvre de règles d’ordre public. […] », Autorité Belge de la Concurrence, 14/07/2016 point 52, p. 172.

[15] See Duval, p. 251.

[16] Autorité Belge de la Concurrence, 14/07/2016 point 62, p. 174.

[17] « Elle n’est pas une instance d’appel pour entendre des recours contre une décision attaquée », Supra, point 52, p. 172.

[18] Autorité Belge de la Concurrence, 14/07/2016 point 119, p. 146.

[19] Opinion of Advocate General Wathelet, 17/03/2016, Case C‑567/14, Genentech Inc.v Hoechst GmbH, formerly Hoechst AG, Sanofi-Aventis Deutschland GmbH and CJEU, 07/07/2016.

[20] Supra, point 71 “For these reasons, the review by a court of a Member State of whether international arbitral awards are contrary to European public policy rules cannot be conditioned by whether or not this question was raised or debated during the arbitration proceedings, nor can it be limited by the prohibition under national law preventing the substance of the award in issue from being reconsidered.”

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