Asser International Sports Law Blog

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

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

International and European Sports Law – Monthly Report – June 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

 
ISLJ Annual Conference on International Sports Law

On 26 and 27 October, 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. More...



Mitigating Circumstances and Strict Liability of Clubs in Match-fixing: Are We Going in the Wrong Direction? An Analysis of the Novara and Pro Patria Cases - By Mario Vigna


Editor’s note: Mario Vigna is a Senior Associate at Coccia De Angelis Vecchio & Associati in Rome, Italy. His main practice areas are sports law, commercial law, and IP law. He also has extensive experience in the Anti-doping field, serving as Deputy-Chief Prosecutor of the Italian NADO and as counsel in domestic and international sports proceedings. He is a frequent speaker at various conferences and workshops. He was not involved in either of the cases discussed below.


I.               Introduction 

Gambling in football is a popular and potentially lucrative activity. It also raises numerous issues. When faced with the issue of gambling, the European Court of Justice (now Court of Justice of the EU) determined that gambling was economic activity per se, notwithstanding gambling’s vulnerability to ethical issues, and thus could not be prohibited outright.[1] With the legality of gambling established, it was left to the proper legislative bodies (national legislatures, national and international federations, etc.) to regulate gambling in order to guard against fraud and corruption. Gambling was not going to disappear; the dangers inherent to gambling would require attention.  More...




Asser International Sports Law Blog | WISLaw Blog Symposium - Why the existing athletes' Olympic entering system does not comply with the fundamental principles of Olympism enshrined in the Olympic Charter - By Anna Antseliovich

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

WISLaw Blog Symposium - Why the existing athletes' Olympic entering system does not comply with the fundamental principles of Olympism enshrined in the Olympic Charter - By Anna Antseliovich

Editor's note: Anna Antseliovich heads the sports practice at the Moscow-based legal group Clever Consult. She also works as a senior researcher at the Federal Science Center for Physical Culture and Sport (Russia).


The Olympic Games have always been a source of genuine interest for spectators as Olympians have repeatedly demonstrated astounding capacity of the human body and mind in winning Olympic gold, or by achieving success despite all odds.

At the ancient and even the first modern Olympic Games, there was no concept of a national team; each Olympian represented only himself/herself. However, at the 1906 Intercalated Games[1] for the first time, athletes were nominated by the National Olympic Committees (‘NOCs’) and competed as members of national teams representing their respective countries. At the opening ceremony, the athletes walked under the flags of their countries. This was a major shift, which meant that not only the athletes themselves competed against each other, but so too did the nations in unofficial medal standings.  

The nomination and selection of athletes by their NOCs to compete under their national flag and represent their country is a matter of pride for the vast majority of athletes. However, to what extent does such a scheme correspond to the ideals which the Olympic Games were based on in ancient times? Is it possible to separate sport and politics in the modern world?

Olympic Principles

The ancient Olympics began as a religious celebration in honor of the ancient Greek god Zeus. All freeborn male citizens of Greece could participate. The modern Olympics no longer maintain religious significance and are based on modern ideas and principles.

The principles of Olympism are enshrined in the Olympic Charter under “Fundamental Principles of Olympism”. The first paragraph of the Charter reads: “Olympism is a philosophy of life, exalting and combining in a balanced whole the qualities of body, will and mind. Blending sport with culture and education, Olympism seeks to create a way of life based on the joy of effort, the educational value of good example, social responsibility and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles.” Thus, it should seem obvious that Olympism is centered on a human, his/her body, will, and mind. Nations are not mentioned at all in this section. On the contrary, “sports organizations within the Olympic Movement shall apply political neutrality.”

Moreover, the Olympic Charter enshrines the practice of sport as an inherent human right: “Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.”  Paragraph 6 continues with “The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms outlined in this Olympic Charter shall be secured without discrimination of any kind, such as race, color, sex, sexual orientation, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”

Based on the above, we can conclude that anyone has the right to participate in competitions covered directly or indirectly by the Olympic Charter, and no one person or entity can be deprived of this right. The only limitation on participation is an individual athlete’s qualification and eligibility.  

Entering by NOC

The Olympic Charter Rule 40 provides that “the competitor, team official or other team personnel must be entered by his NOC” to participate in the Olympic Games.

Rule 41 and its By-law deal with cases where there are issues with the nationality of an athlete, such as a change of nationality, a change in the status of the territory on which an athlete resides, etc., but clearly states that, as a general rule, an athlete shall be a national of the NOC that is selecting him/her.

In previous years, the IOC allowed so-called independent athletes to participate in the Olympic Games (such teams had different names but the same status). In 1992 they were athletes from Macedonia and Yugoslavia, in 2000 from East Timor, in 2012 athletes from the Netherlands Antilles and South Sudan, in 2014 from India, in 2016 from Kuwait and Russia, and in 2018 from Russia. These athletes competed as independent/neutral athletes for various reasons, such as the absence of the NOC, the suspension of the NOC from the IOC, doping scandals, or international sanctions.

The increased role of the State that is expressed by the appearance of the national symbols on the athletes' uniform, the playing of national anthems, and the flying of the national flag at the award ceremony has given rise to an unofficial medal count, which now - whether the IOC wants it or not - plays an extremely important role at each Olympic Games. Spectators intensely monitor which country is leading the medal count - sometimes even more than the competition itself. More and more countries are competing against each other, drawing up medal plans in an attempt to prove that their training system is the best and the most progressive, which, in turn, shows the superiority of their political and/or financial system. This all takes the spectators’ attention away from the purity of revelling in the capabilities of the human body and spirit and admiring the achievements of athletes.

Such an approach to the formation of Olympic teams (at least in individual sports) does not comply with the principle enshrined in Rule 6 of the Olympic Charter “the Olympic Games are competitions between athletes in individual or team events and not between countries..” and it seems that it is unfair for several reasons.

First, while for most athletes the very opportunity to represent their country at the most important sporting event is a source of great pride, for other athletes, it is not. For example,  refugees who have fled their homeland, for fear of torture and/or death. For them, it is unacceptable to compete under the flag of their country. Their “national” NOC could not enter them in any event. To circumvent this problem, the IOC created a team of 10 refugee athletes who competed under the IOC flag and anthem for the first time at the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games. In 2018, at the 133rd session of the IOC in Buenos Aires, it was confirmed that the Tokyo Olympics will also feature a refugee team. However, refugees are not the only group of athletes who have difficult relations with the authorities and/or political regimes. There are many places in the world where people are struggling for independence or with repressive regimes. For these athletes to compete under the national symbols used by such authorities is fundamentally and morally impossible because it contradicts their political views (for example, some of the Kurds may not be happy to represent Turkey, some of the Basques may be happy to see any flag but not a Spanish one, some individuals residing in Northern Ireland may feel themselves hurt and unhappy to compete under the Union Jack, the flag of the United Kingdom, Tibetans and Uighurs hardly want to glorify the flag of China that suppresses any attempts to show their national identity, etc.).

Second, despite the requirement of the Olympic Charter to observe political neutrality by NOCs, in reality, this is not always respected. A vivid example is a current situation in Belarus, where until February 2021 the NOC was headed by President Aleksandr Lukashenko, after whose election mass protests broke out in the country resulting in numerous human rights violations. Since February 2021, the NOC has been headed by his son, Viktor Lukashenko. Athletes who took part in the protests were persecuted and sometimes even imprisoned. It is obvious that such athletes have no chance to be selected by the NOC for the Tokyo Olympics and even if they were to be entered, they would unlikely be proud to perform under the symbols of a regime that they consider illegitimate.

The two examples demonstrate that performing under a national flag can sometimes have grave significance. Athlete can either be completely barred from competing in the Olympics should they not hold the correct political allegiance, or be forced to compete under a national flag that does not reflect their political views.

The author considers that a solution to the abovementioned problem consists in the registration of an athlete, if he/she meets sports criteria for participation in the Olympic Games, directly by the IOC in the personal capacity. Each athlete will then be able to independently decide to use the national symbols that correspond to his political views, or to refuse to use any symbols in general. This approach is consistent with the abovementioned principles.

Conclusion

The Olympic Games have evolved enormously from local games as part of a religious celebration to a worldwide sports festival watched by millions of people. The Olympics are the epitome of international competition between athletes and between nations. Political controversy and scandals surrounding the Olympics often overshadow athletes' successes. To remove the political underlying basis of the Olympics, the approach of entering athletes by the NOCs should be abandoned, and athletes (at least in individual sports) should be allowed to compete in a personal capacity stripping away political connotations that ought to be extraneous to sports competitions. 


[1] Intercalated Games were supposed to be a series of international competitions held in Athens halfway between Summer Olympic Games. The only such games were held in 1906.


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