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

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



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.



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...

International and European Sports Law – Monthly Report – September 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 

2024 and 2028 Olympic Games to be held in Paris and Los Angeles respectively

On 13 September 2017, the Session of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) held in Lima, Peru, elected Paris and Los Angeles as host cities of the 2024 and 2028 Olympic Games respectively. On this occasion, the IOC President Thomas Bach said that ''this historic double allocation is a 'win-win-win' situation for the city of Paris, the city of Los Angeles and the IOC''. The idea of a tripartite agreement whereby two editions of the Olympic Games would be awarded at the same time was presented by a working group of the IOC Vice-Presidents established in March 2017. Both Paris and Los Angeles have pledged to make the Olympic Games cost-efficient, in particular through the use of a record-breaking number of existing and temporary facilities. In addition to economic aspects, it will be worthwhile to keep an eye on how both cities will address human rights and other similar concerns that may arise in the run-up to the Olympic Games. More...

The limits to multiple representation by football intermediaries under FIFA rules and Swiss Law - By Josep F. Vandellos Alamilla

Editor’s note: Josep F. Vandellos Alamilla is an international sports lawyer and academic based in Valencia (Spain) and a member of the Editorial Board of the publication Football Legal. Since 2017 he is the Director of  the Global Master in Sports Management and Legal Skills FC Barcelona – ISDE.

I think we would all agree that the reputation of players’ agents, nowadays called intermediaries, has never been a good one for plenty of reasons. But the truth is their presence in the football industry is much needed and probably most of the transfers would never take place if these outcast members of the self-proclaimed football family were not there to ensure a fluid and smooth communication between all parties involved.

For us, sports lawyers, intermediaries are also important clients as they often need our advice to structure the deals in which they take part. One of the most recurrent situations faced by intermediaries and agents operating off-the-radar (i.e. not registered in any football association member of FIFA) is the risk of entering in a so-called multiparty or dual representation and the potential risks associated with such a situation.

The representation of the interests of multiple parties in football intermediation can take place for instance when the agent represents the selling club, the buying club and/or the player in the same transfer, or when the agent is remunerated by multiple parties, and in general when the agent incurs the risk of jeopardizing the trust deposited upon him/her by the principal. The situations are multiple and can manifest in different manners.

This article will briefly outline the regulatory framework regarding multiparty representation applicable to registered intermediaries. It will then focus on provisions of Swiss law and the identification of the limits of dual representation in the light of the CAS jurisprudence and some relevant decisions of the Swiss Federal Tribunal.More...

The Evolution of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play Rules – Part 3: Past reforms and uncertain future. By Christopher Flanagan

Part Two of this series looked at the legal challenges FFP has faced in the five years since the controversial ‘break even’ requirements were incorporated. Those challenges to FFP’s legality have been ineffective in defeating the rules altogether; however, there have been iterative changes during FFP’s lifetime. Those changes are marked by greater procedural sophistication, and a move towards the liberalisation of equity input by owners in certain circumstances. In light of recent statements from UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin, it is possible that the financial regulation of European football will be subject to yet further change. More...

The Evolution of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play Rules – Part 2: The Legal Challenges. By Christopher Flanagan

The first part of this series looked at the legal framework in which FFP sits, concluding that FFP occupied a ‘marginal’ legal position – perhaps legal, perhaps not. Given the significant financial interests in European football – UEFA’s figures suggest aggregate revenue of nearly €17 billion as at clubs’ 2015 accounts – and the close correlation between clubs’ spending on wages and their success on the field,[1] a legal challenge to the legality of FFP’s ‘break even’ requirement (the Break Even Requirement), which restricts a particular means of spending, was perhaps inevitable.

And so it followed.

Challenges to the legality of the Break Even Requirement have been brought by football agent Daniel Striani, through various organs of justice of the European Union and through the Belgian courts; and by Galatasaray in the Court of Arbitration for Sport. As an interesting footnote, both Striani and Galatasaray were advised by “avocat superstar” Jean-Louis Dupont, the lawyer who acted in several of sports law’s most famous cases, including the seminal Bosman case. Dupont has been a vocal critic of FFP’s legality since its inception. More...

The Evolution of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play Rules – Part 1: Background and EU Law. By Christopher Flanagan

Editor's Note: Christopher is an editor of the Asser International Sports Law Blog. His research interests cover a spectrum of sports law topics, with a focus on financial regulatory disputes, particularly in professional football, a topic on which he has regularly lectured at the University of the West of England.


It is five years since the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) formally introduced ‘Financial Fair Play’ (FFP) into European football through its Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations, Edition 2012. With FFP having now been in place for a number of years, we are in a position to analyse its effect, its legality, and how the rules have altered over the last half decade in response to legal challenges and changing policy priorities. This article is split into three parts: The first will look at the background, context and law applicable to FFP; Part Two will look at the legal challenges FFP has faced; and Part Three will look at how FFP has iteratively changed, considering its normative impact, and the future of the rules. More...

International and European Sports Law – Monthly Report – July and August 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.


The Headlines

ISLJ Annual Conference on International Sports Law 

On 26 and 27 October 2017, the T.M.C. Asser Institute in The Hague will host the first ever ISLJ Annual International Sports Law Conference. This year's edition will feature panels on the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the world anti-doping system, the FIFA transfer regulations, human rights and sports, the labour rights of athletes, and EU law and sport. We will also welcome the following distinguished keynote speakers:

  • Miguel Maduro, former Advocate General at the European Court of Justice and former head of the FIFA's Governance Committee;
  • Michael Beloff QC, English barrister known as one of the 'Godfathers' of sports law;
  • Stephen Weatherill, Professor at Oxford University and a scholarly authority on EU law and sport;
  • Richard McLaren, CAS Arbitrator, sports law scholar and former head of the World Anti-Doping Agency's investigation into the Russian doping scandal.

You will find all the necessary information related to the conference here. Do not forget to register as soon as possible if you want to secure a place on the international sports law pitch! [Please note that we have a limited amount of seats available, which will be attributed on a 'first come, first served' basis.] More...

FIFA's Human Rights Agenda: Is the Game Beautiful Again? – 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.


Concerns about adverse human rights impacts related to FIFA's activities have intensified ever since its late 2010 decision to award the 2018 and 2022 World Cup to Russia and Qatar respectively. However, until recently, the world's governing body of football had done little to eliminate these concerns, thereby encouraging human rights advocates to exercise their critical eye on FIFA. 

In response to growing criticism, the Extraordinary FIFA Congress, held in February 2016, decided to include an explicit human rights commitment in the revised FIFA Statutes which came into force in April 2016. This commitment is encapsulated in Article 3 which reads as follows: ''FIFA is committed to respecting all internationally recognized human rights and shall strive to promote the protection of these rights''. At around the same time, Professor John Ruggie, the author of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights ('UN Guiding Principles') presented in his report 25 specific recommendations for FIFA on how to further embed respect for human rights across its global operations. While praising the decision to make a human rights commitment part of the organization's constituent document, Ruggie concluded that ''FIFA does not have yet adequate systems in place enabling it to know and show that it respects human rights in practice''.[1]

With the 2018 World Cup in Russia less than a year away, the time is ripe to look at whether Ruggie's statement about FIFA's inability to respect human rights still holds true today. This blog outlines the most salient human rights risks related to FIFA's activities and offers a general overview of what the world's governing body of football did over the past twelve months to mitigate these risks. Information about FIFA's human rights activities is collected primarily from its Activity Update on Human Rights published alongside FIFA's Human Rights Policy in June 2017. More...

Asser International Sports Law Blog | The Russian Ballet at the CAS Ad Hoc Division in Rio - Act II: On being implicated

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 Russian Ballet at the CAS Ad Hoc Division in Rio - Act II: On being implicated

Editor's note: This is the second part/act of our blog series on the Russian eligibility cases at the CAS ad hoc Division in Rio.


Act II: On being implicated

Paragraph 2 of the IOC Decision: The IFs to examine the information contained in the IP Report, and for such purpose seek from WADA the names of athletes and National Federations (NFs) implicated. Nobody implicated, be it an athlete, an official, or an NF, may be accepted for entry or accreditation for the Olympic Games.”


The second, and by far largest, wave of complaints involved Russian athletes barred from the game under paragraph 2 of the IOC Decision. None of those were successful in their appeals as the CAS sided with those IFs which took a tough stance with regard to the Russian State doping system. The first set of cases turned on the definition of the word “implicated” in the sense of paragraph 2 of the IOC Decision. In this regard, on 2 August the IOC sent a communication to the IFs aiming at providing some general guidelines. It reads as follows:

"In view of the recent appeals filed by Russian Athletes with CAS, the IOC considers it necessary to clarify the meaning of the notion "implicated" in the EB Decision.

The IOC does not consider that each athlete referred to in the McLaren Lists shall be considered per se "implicated. It is for each International federation to assess, on the basis of the information provided in the McLaren lists and the Independent Person Report, whether it is satisfied that the Athlete in question was implicated in the Russian State-controlled doping scheme.

To assist the International Federations in assessing each individual case, the IOC wishes to provide some information. In the IOC's opinion, an athlete should not be considered as "implicated" where:

·       The order was a "quarantine".

·       The McLaren List does not refer to a prohibited substance which would have given rise to an anti-doping rule violation or;

·       The McLaren List does not refer to any prohibited substance with respect to a given sample."

The CAS went on to address this question concretely in three cases analysed below. [1]


A.    CAS OG 16/19 Natalia Podolskaya & Alexander Dyachenko v. ICF

Podolskaya and Dyachenko are two canoeists from Russia who were suspended by the International Canoe Federation (ICF) and removed from the Rio Games as they were deemed implicated in the IP Report. In an affidavit to the CAS, referred to in the award, Richard McLaren disclosed the facts that led to both athletes being considered implicated.

Regarding Podolskaya, McLaren indicated that he has retrieved electronic evidence that “reveals that on 31 July 2013 at 00:50 hours, in contravention of the International Standard for Laboratories, the Moscow Laboratory reported to email address that sample member 2780289, belonging to a female canoe athlete taken at the Russian Championships in Moscow, was suspected for EPO and further inquired what should be done”.[2] In a quick response on 1 August 2013, Alexey Velikodniy, then vice-minister for sports, “communicated back to Laboratory that the sample number 2780289 belonged to Ms. Natalia Podolskaya and instructed the Laboratory to "SAVE"”.[3] Similarly, as far as Dyachenko is concerned, the “electronic evidence reveals that on 5 August 2014 at 12:09 hours, in contravention of the International Standard Laboratories, the Moscow Laboratory reported to Alexey Velikodniy that pre-departure sample number 2917734, collected at a Training Camp on 3 August 2014, contained a lot oftrenbolone and a little methenolone. Alexey Velikodny's response to the laboratory on 6 August 2014 at 1%:26 [sic] was that sample number 2917734 from 3 August 2014 pre-departure test belonging to Mr Alexander Dyachenko, and on instruction from "llR", should be a "SAVE".”[4] McLaren concludes that for both “Ms. Natalia Podolskaya and Alexander Dyachenko, the "SAVE" instruction signalled to the Laboratory that no further analytical bench work was to be done on the samples and the Laboratory filed a negative ADAMS report for each athlete”. [5]

In its assessment of the application of paragraph 2 of the IOC Decision by the ICF, the CAS Panel finds that the “Applicants were among five athletes so [as implicated in the IP Report] named” and that the “ICF was entitled to conclude that the Applicants failed to meet the criteria in paragraph 2”.[6] Moreover, this “conclusion has been reinforced by the evidence made available to the Panel by Professor Mclaren” and “is justified on the standard of comfortable satisfaction”.[7] The applicants, unsuccessfully, argued that they were never sanctioned for an anti-doping rule violation, and that the samples referred to in the IP Report cannot be tested anymore to prove their innocence. They also claimed that other contemporary samples returned negative and “that if they had used prohibited substances, all the tests would have returned positive”.[8] Nonetheless, WADA pointed out that “due to the nature of the substances concerned and the timing of the provision of the samples, this cannot be concluded”.[9] The Panel accepted “WADA's submission, not contradicted by the Applicants, that there are explanations consistent with the Applicant's assertion but also consistent with the taking of the prohibited substances at the relevant time”.[10]

Finally, the Russian applicants tried to fight their ineligibility under the implication criteria laid down in paragraph 2 of the IOC Decision by arguing that it was not compatible with natural justice.[11] Yet, The CAS refused to follow this line of reasoning. Instead, the Panel found that the “Applicants have challenged that decision in the CAS and have been given the opportunity to rebut that evidence”, thus they “have not been denied natural justice or procedural fairness”.[12]


B.    CAS OG 16/21 Elena Anyushina & Alexey Korovashkov v. ICF & RCF 

Anyushina and Korovashkov are also two canoeists from Russia. Similar to Podolskaya and Dyachenko, they were suspended on 26 July 2016 by the ICF and removed from the Rio Games as they were deemed implicated in the IP report. However, Anyushina was quickly reinstated and declared eligible to compete at the Games by the IOC.[13] The procedure was, consequently, limited to Korovashkov. He was deemed implicated because, as outlined by Richard McLaren in his affidavit:

"On 15 August 2014 at 09:22 hours, in contravention of the International Standard for Laboratories, the Moscow Laboratory reported to Alexey Velikodniy that sample number 2916461, collected 10 August 2014 in connection with an International Competition being held in Moscow, contained a lot of marijuana that was certainly above the threshold. (The /CF website reflects that the /CF Canoe Sprint World Championships took place in Moscow from the 8-10 August 2014)Alexey Velikodniy's response to the Laboratory on 18 August 2014 at 08:59 identified that sample number 2916461 belonged to Mr. Alexey Korovashkov and instructed that it should be a 'SAVE." Alexey Velikodniy also notes that Mr. Alexey sample is under investigation. Mr. Korovashkov's sample number 2916461 was reported negative in ADAMS."[14]

The Russian canoeist argued that the “evidence concerning the relevant sample on which the ICF relies to support its decision is unreliable”, because “there is no "threshold" provided for marijuana in WADA Technical Document TD 2013DL of 11 May 2013 concerning Decision Limits for the Confirmatory Quantification of Threshold Substances”.[15] In his view, “[i]f there is no threshold, it is unlikely that the laboratory would have provided such odd information to Alexey Velikodniy rather than reporting the threshold itself; the evidence does not resemble a laboratory report
Correspondence could not have been authored by the laboratory's employees, who are fully aware that they would be required to calculate and then state the actual result”.[16] The Panel rebutted this argument by pointing out that, in fact, the relevant WADA document included a threshold for Cannabinoids.[17] The Panel concluded that “the evidence is that the State sponsored doping system was applied to the Second Applicant so as to prevent a positive report of marijuana over the threshold for that substance”.[18] Consequently, Korovashkov was deemed implicated in the IP Report. The Panel did display its sympathy with the Russian athlete, as it pointed out that “[t]he ICF indicated that marijuana is not, in its view, a performance enhancing drug and the Panel notes that there is no suggestion of any other substance involved”.[19] 

The Panel further rejected Korovashkov argument that the ICF’s decision to declare him ineligible for the Rio Olympics amounted to a wrongful anti-doping sanction.[20] The applicant argued that the use of the word “suspended” in the original letter to the ICF was the terminology used under the WADA Code. The Panel finds that even though “suspended” “is a word used, and a sanction provided for, in the WADA Code, this does not mean that its inclusion means that the decision is made under that Code”.[21] Moreover, the CAS arbitrators consider it “clear that the letter was in direct response to the IOC Executive Board’s decision and concerned the eligibility of Russian athletes to compete in the Games of the XXXI Olympiad in Rio de Janeiro Games and to be accredited to those Games”. [22] Thus, it “was not a decision under the WADA Code and was not bound by the provisions of that Code”. [23] In other words, the Decision should not and could not be misconstrued as a doping ban based on the WADA Code, but found its legal basis in the IOC Decision and in Article 12.3 of the ICF Anti-doping Rules.

This case demonstrates the willingness of CAS arbitrators to adopt an objective reading of the notion of implication. If an athlete benefitted from the Russian doping scheme, even in case of a relatively harmless substance like cannabis, it was considered legitimate for an IF to remove him or her from Russia’s Olympic team.


C.    CAS OG 16/12 Ivan Balandin v. FISA & IOC

Ivan Balandin is a rower from Russia who was declared ineligible to compete at the Rio Olympics by the World Rowing Federation (FISA) on 27 July 2016, due to his implication in the IP Report. More precisely, he appears in the Report as having been “saved” by the Russian Deputy Minister of Sport and his test was later reported as negative in the ADAMS system.[24] 

The athlete first argued, as did Korovashkov, that this was an anti-doping sanction, which did not follow the appropriate procedure. WADA clarified “that the Athlete may yet face proceedings relating to an ADRV, however, the nature of these could yet to be determined [sic]”[25] and added that the “matter at hand concerns eligibility for the Rio Games”.[26] The Panel concurred and concluded that the “dispute at hand concerns the Athlete’s eligibility for the Rio Games alone”.[27]

The next question was whether Balandin was implicated in the IP Report. The Panel notes, as pointed out in the IOC letter from 2 August 2016, that a simple implication in the Report does not necessarily indicate that an athlete benefited from the State-doping scheme. In his defence, the athlete singled out that a date of collection was missing for the sample, in order to attack the validity of the information provided by McLaren. FISA responded that it had taken “the necessary steps to establish this date by calling UKAD”.[28] Moreover, Richard McLaren revealed in his amicus curiae “the exact date and times of the message from the Moscow Laboratory that the screen of the Athlete’s A sample revealed positive for the prohibited substance GW 1516 and the response from the Deputy Minister to change the positive into a negative, following the DPM” .[29] In any event, “the Panel is satisfied that the information provided to FISA and the additional checks it took with UKAD, were sufficient to show the Athlete was “implicated” in this scheme”.[30] The athlete was deemed implicated, but did he actually benefit from the scheme? The Panel “notes that the substance GW 1516 is a metabolic modulator and a non-specified substance and is prohibited at all times (without a threshold)”.[31] Additionally, “the instruction from the Deputy Minister was “save””[32]. Thus, the CAS arbitrators were “comfortably satisfied” that Balandin had benefitted from the scheme.


In all three cases, the athletes mentioned in the Report as ‘saved’ were recognized as implicated by the CAS. The court clearly distinguished the notion of implication from the fact that the athletes committed an anti-doping violation as defined by the WADA Code. However, it is unclear whether the arbitrators would have deemed an athlete implicated, if he or she was not named in the evidence provided by McLaren. As the disappearing positive methodology implemented by the Moscow laboratory was an ultima ratio, this still entails that many Russian athletes competing in Rio might have profited from Russia’s State doping scheme by escaping a positive test altogether. Hence, the IOC’s choice to narrow down on implicated athletes seems rather inadequate to tackle the generalized doping system unveiled by the IC and IP reports. 

[1] CAS OG 16/19 Natalia Podolskaya & Alexander Dyachenko v. ICF; CAS OG 16/21 Elena Anyushina & Alexey Korovashkov v. ICF & RCF; CAS OG 16/12 Ivan Balandin v. FISA & IOC. A fourth case, CAS OG 16/18 Kiril Sveshnikov et al. v. UCI & IOC, was declared inadmissible.

[2] CAS OG 16/19 Natalia Podolskaya & Alexander Dyachenko v. ICF, para. 2.11.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid., para. 7.13.

[7] Ibid., para. 7.14.

[8] Ibid., para. 7.24.

[9] Ibid., para. 7.24.

[10] Ibid., para. 7.26.

[11] Ibid., paras 7.15-7.26.

[12] Ibid., para. 7.18.

[13] CAS OG 16/21 Elena Anyushina & Alexey Korovashkov v. ICF & RCF, para. 3.13.

[14] Ibid., para. 2.6.

[15] Ibid., para. 7.10.

[16] Ibid., para. 7.12.

[17] Ibid., paras 7.15-17.

[18] Ibid., para. 7.20.

[19] Ibid., para. 7.21.

[20] Ibid., paras 7.23-7.27.

[21] Ibid., para. 7.24.

[22] Ibid., para. 7.25.

[23] Ibid.

[24] CAS OG 16/12 Ivan Balandin v. FISA & IOC, para.2.9.

[25] Ibid., para. 7.13.

[26] Ibid.

[27] Ibid., para. 7.15.

[28] Ibid., para 7.28.

[29] Ibid., para 7.29.

[30] Ibid.

[31] Ibid., para 7.30.

[32] Ibid.

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