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

Supporters of the ISLJ Annual International Sports Law Conference 2018: Women in Sports Law

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 proud to start this series of interviews with Women in Sports Law, an association launched in 2016 and which has already done so much to promote and advance the role of women in international sports law (many thanks to Despina Mavromati for kindly responding to our questions on behalf of WISLaw).


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

Women In Sports Law (WISLaw, www.wislaw.co) is an international association based in Lausanne that unites more than 300 women from 50 countries specializing in sports law. It is a professional network that aims at increasing the visibility of women working in the sector, through a detailed members’ directory and various small-scale talks and events held in different countries around the world. These small-scale events give the opportunity to include everyone in the discussion and enhance the members’ network. Men from the sector and numerous arbitral institutions, conference organizers and universities have come to actively support our initiative.


2. What are the challenges and opportunities for women getting involved in international sports law?

Women used to be invisible in this sector. All-male panels were typical at conferences and nobody seemed to notice this flagrant lack of diversity. WISLaw created this much-needed platform to increase visibility through the members’ directory and through a series of small-scale events where all members, independent of their status or seniority, can attend and be speakers.

Another difficulty is that European football (soccer) is traditionally considered to be a “male-dominated” sport, despite the fact that there are so many great female football teams around the world. The same misperception applies to sports lawyers!

Last, there is a huge number of women lawyers working as in-house counsel and as sports administrators. There is a glass ceiling for many of those women, and the WISLaw annual evaluation of the participation of women in those positions attempts to target their issues and shed more light into this specific problem.


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

The ISLJ Annual Conference has already set up a great lineup of topics combining academic and more practical discussions in the most recent issues in international sports law. 


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

The Asser International Sports Law Centre has promoted and supported WISLaw since the very beginning. The ISLJ Annual International Sports Law Conference was the first big conference to officially include a WISLaw lunch talk in its program, allowing thus the conference attendees to be part of a wider informal discussion on a specific topical issue and raise their questions with respect to WISLaw. Another important reason why WISLaw supports this conference is because the conference organizers are making sincere efforts to have increased diversity in the panels : this year’s ISLJ Annual International Sports Law Conference is probably the first sports law conference to come close to a full gender balance in its panels, with 40% of the speakers being women !

The proportionality test under Art. 101 (1) TFEU and the legitimacy of UEFA Financial fair-play regulations: From the Meca Medina and Majcen ruling of the European Court of Justice to the Galatasaray and AC Milan awards of the Court of Arbitration for Sport – 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. He is also member of the IVth Division of the High Court of Sport Justice (Collegio di Garanzia dello sport) at the National Olympic Committee.

 

1. On the 20th July 2018, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (hereinafter referred to as “CAS”) issued its decision in the arbitration procedure between AC Milan and UEFA. The subject matter of this arbitration procedure was the appeal filed by AC Milan against the decision of the Adjudicatory Chamber of the UEFA Financial Control Body dated 19th June 2018 (hereinafter referred to as “the contested decision”). As many likely know, the CAS has acknowledged that, although AC Milan was in breach of the break-even requirement, the related exclusion of the club from the UEFA Europe League was not proportionate. To date, it is the first time the CAS clearly ruled that the sanction of exclusion from UEFA club competitions for a breach of the break-even requirement was not proportionate. For this reason the CAS award represents a good opportunity to reflect on the proportionality test under Art. 101 TFEU and the relationship between the landmark ruling of the European Court of Justice (hereinafter referred to as “ECJ”) in the Meca Medina and Majcen affair and the very recent case-law of the CAS. More...

The “Victory” of the Court of Arbitration for Sport at the European Court of Human Rights: The End of the Beginning for the CAS

My favourite speed skater (Full disclosure: I have a thing for speed skaters bothering the ISU), Claudia Pechstein, is back in the news! And not from the place I expected. While all my attention was absorbed by the Bundesverfassungsgericht in Karlsruhe (BVerfG or German Constitutional Court), I should have looked to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg (ECtHR). The Pechstein and Mutu joint cases were pending for a long time (since 2010) and I did not anticipate that the ECtHR would render its decision before the BVerfG. The decision released last week (only available in French at this stage) looked at first like a renewed vindication of the CAS (similar to the Bundesgerichtshof (BGH) ruling in the Pechstein case), and is being presented like that by the CAS, but after careful reading of the judgment I believe this is rather a pyrrhic victory for the status quo at the CAS. As I will show, this ruling puts to rest an important debate surrounding CAS arbitration since 20 years: CAS arbitration is (at least in its much-used appeal format in disciplinary cases) forced arbitration. Furthermore, stemming from this important acknowledgment is the recognition that CAS proceedings must comply with Article 6 § 1 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR), in particular hearings must in principle be held in public and decisions freely available to all. Finally, I will criticise the Court’s finding that CAS complies with the requirements of independence and impartiality imposed by Article 6 § 1 ECHR. I will not rehash the  well-known facts of both cases, in order to focus on the core findings of the decision. More...

ISLJ International Sports Law Conference 2018 - Asser Institute - 25-26 October - Register Now!

Dear all,

Last year we decided to launch the 'ISLJ Annual International Sports Law Conference' in order to give a public platform to the academic discussions on international sports law featured in the ISLJ. The first edition of the conference was a great success (don't take my word for it, just check out #ISLJConf17 on twitter), featuring outstanding speakers and lively discussions with the room. We were very happy to see people from some many different parts of the world congregating at the Institute to discuss the burning issues of their field of practice and research.

This year, on 25 and 26 October, we are hosting the second edition and we are again welcoming well-known academics and practitioners in the field. The discussions will turn around the notion of lex sportiva, the role of Swiss law in international sports law, the latest ISU decision of the European Commission, the Mutu/Pechstein ruling of the European Court of Human Rights, or the reform proposal of the FIFA Regulations on the Transfer and Status of Players. It should be, it will be, an exciting two days!

You will find below the final programme of the conference, please feel free to circulate it within your networks. We have still some seats left, so don't hesitate to register (here) and to join us.

Looking forward to seeing you and meeting you there!

Antoine

Football Intermediaries: Would a European centralized licensing system be a sustainable solution? - By Panagiotis Roumeliotis

Editor's note: Panagiotis Roumeliotis holds an LL.B. degree from National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece and an LL.M. degree in European and International Tax Law from University of Luxembourg. He is qualified lawyer in Greece and is presently working as tax advisor with KPMG Luxembourg while pursuing, concomitantly, an LL.M. in International Sports Law at Sheffield Hallam University, England. His interest lies in the realm of tax and sports law. He may be contacted by e-mail at ‘p.roumeliotis@hotmail.com’.


Introduction

The landmark Bosman Ruling triggered the Europeanization of the labour market for football players by banning nationality quotas. In turn, in conjunction with the boom in TV revenues, this led to a flourishing transfer market in which players’ agents or intermediaries play a pivotal role, despite having a controversial reputation.

As a preliminary remark, it is important to touch upon the fiduciary duty of sports agents towards their clients. The principal-agent relationship implies that the former employs the agent so as to secure the best employment and/or commercial opportunities. Conversely, the latter is expected to act in the interest of the player as their relationship should be predicated on trust and confidence, as much was made clear in the English Court of Appeal case of Imageview Management Ltd v. Kelvin Jack. Notably, agents are bound to exercise the utmost degree of good faith, honesty and loyalty towards the players.[1]

At the core of this blog lies a comparative case study of the implementation of the FIFA Regulations on working with intermediaries (hereinafter “FIFA RWI”) in eight European FAs covering most of the transfers during the mercato. I will then critically analyze the issues raised by the implementation of the RWI and, as a conclusion, offer some recommendations. More...



Seraing vs. FIFA: Why the rumours of CAS’s death have been greatly exaggerated

Rumours are swirling around the decision (available in French here) of the Court of Appeal of Brussels in the case opposing RFC Seraing United to FIFA (as well as UEFA and the Belgian Football Federation, URSBFA) over the latter’s ban on third-party ownership. The headlines in various media are quite dramatic (see here and here), references are made to a new Bosman, or to a shaken sport’s legal system. Yet, after swiftly reading the decision for the first time on 29th August, I did not have, unlike with the Pechstein ruling of the Oberlandesgericht München, the immediate impression that this would be a major game-changer for the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and the role of arbitration in sports in general. After careful re-reading, I understand how certain parts of the ruling can be misunderstood or over-interpreted. I believe that much of the press coverage failed to accurately reflect the reasoning of the court and to capture the real impact of the decision. In order to explain why, I decided to write a short Q&A (including the (not water-proof) English translations of some of the key paragraphs of the decision).

 More...

New Article Published! The Olympic Charter: A Transnational Constitution Without a State?

My latest article has just been published online by the Journal of Law and Society. It is available open access here.

The article stems from a conference organised by Jiri Priban from Cardiff University on Gunther Teubner's idea of societal constitutionalism applied to transnational regimes. My role was to test whether his descriptive and normative framework was readily applicable to the lex sportiva, and in particular its overarching "constitutional" text: the Olympic Charter.

As you will see my conclusion is mixed. I find that the Olympic Charter (OC) displays many constitutional features and is even able to regularly defend successfully its autonomy vis-à-vis national states and their laws. However, while I document some inception of limitative constitutional rules, such as the ban on discrimination or the principle of fair play, I also conclude that those have limited impact in practice. While constitutional changes to the OC can be triggered by scandal, resistance and contestation, as illustrated by the emergence of environmental concerns after the Albertville Games and the governance reshuffle of the IOC after the Salt Lake City scandal, I am also sceptical that these were sufficient to tackle the underlying problems, as became obvious with the unmatched environmental damage caused by the Sotchi Games in 2014.

In conclusion, more than sporadic public outrage, I believe that the intervention of national law and, even more, European Union law will be capable and needed to rein the Olympic regime and impose external constitutional constraints on its (at least sometimes) destructive operations.

Here is the abstract of the article: This article examines various aspects of Teubner's theory of societal constitutionalism using the lex sportiva as an empirical terrain. The case study focuses on the operation of the Olympic Charter as a transnational constitution of the Olympic movement. It shows that recourse to a constitutional vocabulary is not out of place in qualifying the function and authority of the Charter inside and outside the Olympic movement. Yet, the findings of the case study also nuance some of Teubner's descriptive claims and question his normative strategy.

Good read! (And do not hesitate to share your feedback)


New Position - Internship in International Sports Law - Deadline 15 August


The T.M.C. Asser Instituut offers post-graduate students the opportunity to gain practical experience in the field of international and European sports law.  The T.M.C. Asser Instituut, located in The Hague, is an inter-university research institute specialized in international and European law. Since 2002, it is the home of the ASSER International Sports Law Centre, a pioneer in the field of European and international sports law. More...


Human Rights Protection and the FIFA World Cup: A Never-Ending Match? - By Daniela Heerdt

Editor’s note: Daniela Heerdt is a PhD candidate at Tilburg Law School in the Netherlands. 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 recently 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.


The 21st FIFA World Cup is currently underway. Billions of people around the world follow the matches with much enthusiasm and support. For the time being, it almost seems forgotten that in the final weeks leading up to the events, critical reports on human rights issues related to the event piled up. This blog explains why addressing these issues has to start well in advance of the first ball being kicked and cannot end when the final match has been played. More...



Call for papers: Annual International Sports Law Conference of the International Sports Law Journal - 25 & 26 October - Asser Institute, The Hague

 Call for papers: Annual International Sports Law Conference of the International Sports Law Journal

Asser Institute, The Hague

25 and 26 October 2018

The editorial board of the International Sports Law Journal (ISLJ) is inviting you to submit abstracts for its second ISLJ Annual Conference on International Sports Law, which will take place on 25 and 26 October at the Asser Institute in The Hague. The ISLJ published by Springer in collaboration with Asser Press is the leading academic publication in the field of international sports law. Its readership includes academics and many practitioners active in the field. This call is open to researchers as well as practitioners. 

We are also delighted to announce that Prof. Franck Latty (Université Paris Nanterre), Prof. Margareta Baddeley (Université de Genève), and Silvia Schenk (member of FIFA’s Human Rights Advisory Board) have confirmed their participation as keynote speakers.

Abstracts could, for example, tackle questions linked to the following international sports law subjects:

  • The interaction between EU law and sport
  • Antitrust and sports regulation
  • International sports arbitration (CAS, BAT, etc.)
  • The functioning of the world anti-doping system (WADA, WADC, etc.)
  • The global governance of sports
  • The regulation of mega sporting events (Olympics, FIFA World Cup, etc.)
  • The transnational regulation of football (e.g. the operation of the FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players or the UEFA Financial Fair Play Regulations)
  • The global fight against corruption in sport  
  • Comparative sports law
  • Human rights in sport 

Please send your abstract (no more than 300 words) and CV no later than 30 April 2018 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 2018. All papers presented at the conference are eligible for publication in a special edition of the ISLJ.  To be considered for inclusion in the conference edition of the journal, the final draft must be submitted for review by 15 December 2018.  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. 300€). If you wish to be considered for a grant please justify your request in your submission. 

Asser International Sports Law Blog | Statement on the European Commission's ISU Decision by Ben Van Rompuy and Antoine Duval

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

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)

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Asser International Sports Law Blog | The Reform of FIFA: Plus ça change, moins ça change?

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 Reform of FIFA: Plus ça change, moins ça change?

Since yesterday FIFA is back in turmoil (see here and here) after the FIFA Council decided to dismiss the heads of the investigatory (Cornel Borbély) and adjudicatory (Hans-Joachim Eckert) chambers of the Independent Ethics Committee, as well as the Head (Miguel Maduro) of the Governance and Review Committee. It is a disturbing twist to a long reform process (on the early years see our blogs here and here) that was only starting to produce some tangible results.

This journey to a new FIFA started in 2015 after the events that eventually pushed Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini out, and Gianni Infantino in. As noted by the FIFA Reform Committee in its final report, it became clear FIFA needed to undertake “significant modification to its institutional structure and operational processes […] to prevent corruption, fraud, self-dealing and to make the organisation more transparent and accountable”.[1] The Reform Committee put forward a series of recommendations, which later culminated in a set of reforms approved during the Extraordinary FIFA Congress held in Zurich the 26 February 2016. Greater transparency and accountability were the leading mantras of the reform, which – broadly speaking – hinged on (i) generating a cultural change at FIFA, (ii) fostering greater participation of member associations and stakeholders in FIFA and, most importantly, (iii) reforming the principles of governance at FIFA. The essence of the reform process was about changing the governance structures and ethos at FIFA. This was to be done mainly by:

  • Separating the political and management functions
  • Financial Transparency and Transparency of Compensation
  • Term Limits and Eligibility Checks
  • Promotion of the role of women in football

And, to be fair to FIFA, on paper at least, things changed quite dramatically over last year, here is how.


1.     The new FIFA Council                                                                          

First, the reform changed the political and administrative structure of FIFA. The Executive Committee being replaced by the Council, a new body with a different composition and set of competences. The Council’s larger size is aimed at ensuring broader participation and representativeness. While the Executive Committee comprised 24 members plus the FIFA President, the Council is composed of 36 members plus the FIFA President. The Congress elects the President, whereas the other members of the Council represent the confederations. Each Confederation president is ex officio a vice-president of the Council. UEFA has three vice-presidents at the Council and the other Confederations one each, for a total of eight vice-presidents. The rest of the members are divided as follows: four from CONMEBOL and CONCACAF, six from AFC, UEFA and CAF, and two from OFC. 

One of the main objectives of the governance reform was to reduce the possibility of conflicts of interests. To this end, a firm separation between political decision-making and management was considered crucial. Even though the Council’s role is supposed to be confined within the boundaries of supervising FIFA’s administration and defining strategic directions, it retains strong steering powers through its competence, enshrined in Article 34 FIFA Statutes, to nominate and dismiss the members of FIFA’s Committees as well as FIFA’s Secretary General. Nevertheless, the executive functions are delegated to the Secretary General, who has the duty to carry out the day-to-day business and implement the strategies outlined by the Council. While, the Chief Compliance Officer, oversees this activity and reports to the independent Audit and Compliance Committee.

 

2.     The introduction of eligibility checks

The FIFA reform committee recognized that a trustworthy governance of FIFA requires that the executives be, as much as possible, free of conflicts of interest. Hence, all the members of the Council are now subject to eligibility checks carried out by the Review Committee, a special commission within the newly created Governance Committee, formed by its chairperson, its deputy chairperson and one independent member. The members of the Governance Committee are in turn subject to eligibility checks carried out by the investigative chamber of the Ethics Committee. According to Art. 27(8) FIFA Statutes: “candidates for the positions of chairperson, deputy chairperson and members of each of the Audit and Compliance Committee and the judicial bodies must pass an eligibility check carried out by the Review Committee”.[2] The Secretary General is required to fulfil an eligibility check as well[3] and so do the candidates for standing committees.[4] This new check is the cornerstone of FIFA’s governance reform. In the absence of truly open and fair democratic elections to determine who exercises power inside FIFA, the eligibility checks are a fundamental brake to control the pool of potential executives and ensure a modicum of ethical virtue amongst them.


3.     The strive for financial transparency

The FIFA Reform Committee Report proposed to make public the compensation packages of FIFA’s executives. Thus, the new Art. 51(10) FIFA Statues imposes a duty to disclose the individual compensation of the FIFA President, the members of the Council and the Secretary General. The compensation of the said members and the Compensation Rules are determined by the Compensation Sub-Committee within the Audit and Compliance Committee.[5] Indeed, in its 2016 Governance Report, published in April 2017, FIFA disclosed the compensation packages of its executives. This was a much-needed development in light of the way Blatter, Platini and co were playing with FIFA’s finances, sometimes/often to their own benefits.

                                                      

4.     The limited role of the FIFA President

The reformed Statutes reduced the role and discretionary power of the FIFA President, who is now depositary of a more ambassadorial than executive role. Pursuant to Art. 35 FIFA Statutes, the President has no right to vote at the Congress and has one ordinary vote in the Council. The new provision repealed the possibility for the President to have a casting vote whenever votes are split equally inside the FIFA Council.[6] And yet, due to his capacity to set the agenda of the FIFA Council and to steer the Council’s appraisal of the Secretary General, his influence inside the constitutional structure of FIFA should not be underestimated.

 

5.     The introduction of term limits

The need to answer to transparency and accountability demands also resulted in the provision of term ceilings for the most prominent figures within the Organisation. The President, the members of the Council and the members of the independent committees can serve their office for no more than three terms, whether consecutive or not, of 4 years each.[7]

 

6.     The representation of women

FIFA recognised that “football governance at all levels needs to include more women in order to create a more diverse decision-making environment and culture”.[8] It has aimed to achieve this goal in two ways. First, FIFA adopted gender equality as an explicit statutory objective.[9] Second, and more visibly, each Confederation has to reserve for women at least one seat at the FIFA Council.[10]

 

7.     The reform of the standing committees

In order to improve efficiency the number of standing committees was reduced from 26 to 9. The current standing committees, which “advise and assist the Council in their respective fields of function”[11] are: the Governance Committee, the Finance Committee, the Development Committee, the Organising Committee for FIFA Competitions, the Member Associations Committee, the Player’s Status Committee, the Referees Committee, the Medical Committee and the Football Stakeholder Committee. The latter was freshly created to foster greater engagement with the football stakeholders.

Some specific requirements to be fulfilled by the members of the committees are laid out in Art. 39 FIFA Statutes. Paragraph 3 of that provision states that, while the general rule is that members of the committees can be at the same time members of the Council, the members of the Governance Committee, the independent members of the Finance Committee and the independent members of the Development Committee cannot simultaneously belong to the Council.[12]

Furthermore, at least 50% of the members of the Governance Committee, Development Committee and Finance Committee need to fulfil the independence criteria as defined in the FIFA Regulations.[13] These independence criteria need to be fulfilled also by the chairpersons, deputy chairpersons and members of the FIFA judicial bodies, i.e. the Disciplinary Committee, the Ethics Committee (both its investigatory and the adjudicatory chambers) and the Appeal Committee.[14] Furthermore, the members of the Audit and Compliance Committee must not belong to any other FIFA body.[15] The same applies to all the members of the FIFA judicial bodies.[16]


Conclusion: Plus ça change, moins ça change?

To sum up, on paper FIFA did change. It is undeniably a bit more transparent (but we are still waiting for the publication of the Garcia Report or of the decisions of the Ethics Committee) and its executives are a bit more likely to face independent counter-powers (e.g. Ethics Committee or the Governance Committee). FIFA’s reforms rely on a double strategy:

·       independent ex ante control on who is to exercise power inside the organization and;

·       independent ex post review of how this power is exercised.

And yet, with Blatter becoming a phantom of an almost forgotten past, the urge to reform is quickly receding. In fact, reform at FIFA is a bit like the ebb and flow. Its urgency, rises with the tide of public outrage at corruption scandals, and diminishes with public indifference in the face of a new business as usual.

Yesterday, 9 May 2017, we ebbed anew. It seems that the FIFA Council has decided that the time for reforms has past. New sponsors are lining up for the next world cups, the old guard is gone and the time seems ripe to turn the page. However, the institutional changes introduce over the last year made sense only if they are being monitored by strong independent institutions (the Ethics Committee and the Governance Committee), whose members do not feel that they are at the mercy of the power of the FIFA Council. Their role is to be disagreeable and to act as counter-powers, if they are dismissed at will when they do their job then the whole house of cards of FIFA reforms falls apart and we are back to square one. The dismissal and departure of independent and highly qualified academics like Miguel Maduro (with whom I  had the pleasure to work with at the European University Institute during my PhD) and Joseph Weiler are a sign that the Governance Committee and its capacity to control access to FIFA’s most powerful positions is being curtailed. Maybe it’s due, as some seem to think, to the Committee’s decision to bar access to the FIFA Council to Russia’s infamous former sports minister Mutko. In any event, it’s seems that FIFA’s strong (mostly) men are unimpressed by the benefits of “good governance”.

The tide will certainly turn again. Scandals will arise and force through new changes. Nonetheless, one is left to wonder whether the Swiss State and/or the European Union should not forcefully intervene to impose once and for all certain basic “constitutional” requirements  (e.g. independence, transparency, separation of powers) to a global body that exercises a strange form of public-private authority.


[1] 2016 FIFA Reform Committee Report, 2 December 2015, p. 1.

[2] Art. 27(8) FIFA Statutes.

[3] Art. 37 (3) FIFA Statutes.

[4] Art. 39(5) FIFA Statutes.

[5] Art. 51 FIFA Statutes.

[6] Art. 35 FIFA Statutes.

[7] Art. 33 FIFA Statutes.

[8] 2016 FIFA Reform Committee Report, 2 December 2015, p. 9.

[9] Art. 2 f) FIFA Statutes includes “the full participation of women at all levels of football governance” among the objectives of FIFA. The heading of Art. 4 FIFA Statues was amended to explicitly include ‘gender equality’.

[10] Art. 33(5) FIFA Statutes.

[11] Art. 39(2) FIFA Statutes.

[12] Art. 39(3) FIFA Statutes.

[13] Art. 40(1), Art. 41(2) and Art. 42 (1) FIFA Statutes.

[14] Art. 52(4) FIFA Statutes.

[15] Art. 51(1) FIFA Statutes.

[16] Art. 52(5) FIFA Statutes.

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