Since the release of the earth-shattering
ARD documentary two years ago, the
athletics world has been in a permanent turmoil. The International Athletics
Association Federation (IAAF) is faced with both a never-ending corruption
scandal (playing out in front of the French police authorities) and the related systematic doping of Russian
athletes. The situation escalated in different phases led by the revelations of
Russian insiders. First, in December 2014 with the ARD documentary, which demonstrated
how widespread (and organized) the recourse to doping was in Russian athletics.
It triggered the Pound investigation financed by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which led to two
damaging reports (available here and here) for the Russian
anti-doping system and the IAAF itself. Thereafter, in November 2015, the IAAF
had no other choice but to provisionally suspend the Russian athletics
federation (ARAF then RusAF) and its members from IAAF competitions. Yet, this
was only the beginning as shortly after the former head of Moscow’s anti-doping
laboratory provided a
detailed sketch to the New York Times
of the operation of a general state-led doping scheme in Russia. The system was
designed to avert any positive doping tests for top-level Russian sportspeople and
was going way beyond athletics. These allegations were later largely confirmed
and reinforced by the McLaren investigation initiated by WADA in May 2016, and which published its first report in July 2016 shortly before the Rio Olympics. In June 2016, the IAAF anticipated
the conclusions of the report (it had received most of McLaren’s evidence beforehand) and decided to
maintain the ineligibility of Russian athletes for IAAF competitions, and for
the Rio Olympics. It did, however, foresee a narrow exception for Russian
athletes able to show that they were properly tested outside of Russia.
Nonetheless, the athletes using this exception were to compete under a neutral
flag at the Olympics. Unsurprisingly, Russian athletes led by pole superstar
(and now IOC member), Yelena Isinbayeva, and the Russian Olympic Committee
decided to challenge this decision in front of the Court of Arbitration for
Sport (CAS). Interestingly, while the decision was rendered on 21 July 2016, the
full text of the award was publically released only on 10 October 2016. In September,
I analysed the Rio
CAS Ad Hoc Decisions involving Russian athletes aiming to participate to the
Olympics. I will now turn to the IAAF
decision, which is of great importance to the future of the anti-doping system.
Indeed, it lays out the fundamental legal boundaries of the capacity of
international federations to impose sanctions on their members (and their
members) in order to support the world anti-doping fight. More...
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The Russian State Doping Scandal and the
crisis of the World Anti-Doping System
doping and the state of the Anti-Doping System has been the dominant international
sports law story in November and December. This is mainly due to the release of
of the McLaren’s investigation on 9 December 2016. The
outcome of McLaren’s work showed a “well-oiled systemic cheating scheme” that
reached to the highest level of Russian sports and government, involving the striking
figure of 30 sports and more than 1000 athletes in doping practices over four
years and two Olympic Games. The report detailed tampering with samples to swap
out athletes’ dirty urine with clean urine.More...
Editor’s note: Kester
Mekenkamp is an LL.M. student in European Law at Leiden University and an
intern at the ASSER International Sports Law Centre. This blog is, to a great
extent, an excerpt of his forthcoming thesis, which he shall submit in order to
complete his master’s degree.
This final blog aims to provide some broader
perspective, by sketching first the grander scheme in which Article 19 RSTP –
FIFA's provision on the protection of minors – operates. Thereafter, the focus will
shift towards testing Article 19 RSTP, thereby keeping in mind the previous
blogs (Part 1: The Early Years and Part 2: The 2009 reform and its aftermath), against EU free movement law.
Putting Article 19 RSTP into perspective: The bigger
After having investigated the nuts and bolts of FIFA’s
provision on the protection of minors in the first two parts of this blog, it
might be useful to address its bigger picture.
19 RSTP and its accompanying provisions regulate only a small share of the targeted
activity. There is, unfortunately, also an illegal
world. Circumvention of the prohibition is allegedly commonplace.
Visas and passports can be falsified.
Work permits can be obtained on the basis of jobs arranged by clubs.
Editor’s note: Kester Mekenkamp is an LL.M. student in European Law
at Leiden University and an intern at the ASSER International Sports Law Centre.
This blog is, to a great extent, an excerpt of his forthcoming thesis, which he
shall submit in order to complete his master’s degree.
This is the
second part of a three-piece blog on FIFA’s provision on the protection of
minors, Article 19 of the Regulations
on the Status and Transfer of Players. The contribution in its entirety aims to provide
an encompassing overview of the rule’s lifespan since its inception in 2001. The previous
(first) part has shed light on the “birth” and “first years” of the provision, and
as such illustrated the relevant developments from 2001 till 2009. This second
part covers the rule’s “adolescent years”, which span from 2009 to the present.
The major changes put forward in the 2009, 2015 and 2016 versions of the RSTP
will be addressed. Thereafter the important CAS decisions concerning Article
19, Muhic, Vada I and II, FC Barcelona, RFEF, and the FIFA decisions relating to Real Madrid and Atlético
Madrid, will be scrutinized. The third, and final, part will constitute a
substantive assessment of the provision under EU Internal Market law.
Given that the
version adopted in 2008 left Article 19 untouched, the 2009 RSTP
represented the next significant step in the regulation of the protection of
minors. It had become clear that the system as used up to that point was
inadequate to achieve its goal,
most notably because several national associations still neglected to strictly
apply the rules. More...
Editor’s note: Kester Mekenkamp is an LL.M. student in European Law
at Leiden University and an intern at the ASSER International Sports Law
Centre. This blog is, to a great extent, an excerpt of his forthcoming master
On 24 November
2016, a claim was
lodged before a Zurich commercial court against FIFA’s transfer regulations by
a 17-year-old African football player.
The culprit, according to the allegation: The provision on the protection of
minors, Article 19 of the Regulations
for the Status and Transfer of Players.
The claimant and his parents dispute the validity of this measure, based on the
view that it discriminates between football players from the European Union and
those from third countries. Besides to Swiss cartel law, the claim is
substantiated on EU citizenship rights, free movement and competition law. Evidently,
it is difficult to assess the claim’s chance of success based on the sparse information
provided in the press.
Be that as it may, it does provide for an ideal (and unexpected) opportunity to
delve into the fascinating subject of my master thesis on FIFA’s regulatory
system aimed at enhancing the protection of young football players and its
compatibility with EU law. This three-part blog shall therefore try to provide
an encompassing overview of the rule’s lifespan since its inception in 2001. More...
Editor’s note: Josep
F. Vandellos is an international sports lawyer associated to RH&C (Spain).
He is also a member of the Editorial Board of the publication Football
Legal and a guest lecturer in the ISDE-FC Barcelona
Masters’ Degree in Sports Management and Legal Skills.
6 of Annexe IV (Training compensation) of the
FIFA-RSTP (Ed. 2016) contains the so-called “Special Provisions for the EU/EEA” applicable to players moving
from one association to another inside the territory of the European Union (EU)
or the European Economic Area (EEA).
The provisions regarding training compensation result from the
understanding reached between FIFA and UEFA with the European Union in March
and subsequent modifications introduced in the FIFA-RSTP revised version of
2005 to ensure the compatibility of the transfer system with EU law.
blog will focus on the exception contained in article 6(3) Annexe IV of the
FIFA-RSTP. According to this article, when “the
former club” fails to offer a contract to the player, it loses its right to
claim training compensation from the players’ new club, unless it can justify that
it is entitled to such compensation. Instead, the right of “previous clubs” to training compensation
is fully preserved irrespective of their behaviour with the player. From
a legal standpoint, such discrimination between the “former club” and the “previous
clubs” raises some questions that I will try to address in this paper. More...
This is the second and final part of the ‘Real Madrid Saga’. Where the first part outlined the background of the case and
the role played by the Spanish national courts, the second part focuses on the
EU Commission’s recovery decision of 4 July 2016 and dissects the arguments advanced by the Commission to reach it. As
will be shown, the most important question the Commission had to answer was
whether the settlement agreement of 29 July 2011
between the Council of Madrid and Real Madrid constituted a selective economic advantage
for Real Madrid in the sense of Article 107(1) TFEU. Before
delving into that analysis, the blog will commence with the other pending
question, namely whether the Commission also scrutinized the legality of the operation Bernabeú-Opañel under EU State aid law. By way of
reminder, this operation consisted of Real Madrid receiving from the
municipality the land adjacent to the Bernabéu stadium, while transferring in
return €6.6 million, as well as plots of land in other areas of the city. More...
Editor’s note: N. Emre Bilginoglu
is a lawyer based in Istanbul. His book entitled “Arbitration
on Football Contracts” was published in 2015.
With a total market value of approximately 911 million
EUR, the Turkish Super League ranks as one of the prominent football leagues in
Europe. Five of the eighteen teams that make up half of the total market value
are based in Istanbul, a busy megalopolis that hosts a population of fifteen
As might be expected, the elevated market value brings forth a myriad of
disputes, mainly between the clubs and the players. However, other crucial actors
such as coaches and agents are also involved in some of the disputes. These
actors of the football industry are of all countries, coming from various countries
with different legal systems.
One corollary of rapid globalisation is the
development of transnational law, which is quite visible in the lex sportiva.
Like foreign investors, foreign actors of the sports industry look for some legal
security before signing a contract. FIFA does protect these foreign actors in
some way, providing players and coaches legal remedies for employment-related
disputes of an international dimension. But what if the legal system of the
FIFA member association does not provide a reasonable legal remedy for its
“One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a
tree. ‘Which road do I take?’ she asked. ‘Where do you want to go?’ was his
response. ‘I don’t know,’ Alice answered. ‘Then,’ said the cat, ‘it doesn’t
Tomorrow the Foundation Board
of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) will gather in Glasgow for
its most important meeting since the creation of the Agency. Since the
broadcasting of a documentary alleging systematic doping in
Russian athletics by the German public broadcaster in December 2014, the
anti-doping world has been in disarray. The various independent investigations
(the Pound Report and the McLaren Report) ordered by WADA into doping allegations
against Russian athletes have confirmed the findings of the documentary and the
truth of the accusations brought forward by Russian whistle-blowers.
Undeniably, there is something very rotten in the world anti-doping system. The
current system failed to register a widespread, and apparently relatively open,
state-sponsored scheme aimed at manipulating any doping test conducted in
Russian territory. Moreover, it was not WADA that uncovered it, but an
independent journalist supported by courageous whistle-blowers. More...
Out of all the State aid investigations of recent years involving
professional football clubs, the outcome of the Real Madrid case was probably the most eagerly awaited.
Few football clubs have such a global impact as this Spanish giant, and any
news item involving the club, whether positive or negative, is bound to make
the headlines everywhere around the globe. But for many Spaniards, this case
involves more than a simple measure by a public authority scrutinized by the
European Commission. For them, it exemplifies the questionable relationship
between the private and the public sector in a country sick of never-ending
Moreover, Spain is only starting to recover from its worst financial crisis in
decades, a crisis founded on real estate speculation, but whose effects were
mostly felt by ordinary citizens.
Given that the Real Madrid case
involves fluctuating values of land that are transferred from the municipality
to the club, and vice versa, it represents a type of operation that used to be
very common in the Spanish professional football sector, but has come under
critical scrutiny in recent years. More...