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

Why the European Commission will not star in the Spanish TV rights Telenovela. By Ben Van Rompuy and Oskar van Maren

The selling of media rights is currently a hot topic in European football. Last week, the English Premier League cashed in around 7 billion Euros for the sale of its live domestic media rights (2016 to 2019) – once again a 70 percent increase in comparison to the previous tender. This means that even the bottom club in the Premier League will receive approximately €130 million while the champions can expect well over €200 million per season.

The Premier League’s new deal has already led the President of the Spanish National Professional Football League (LNFP), Javier Tebas, to express his concerns that this could see La Liga lose its position as one of Europe’s leading leagues. He reiterated that establishing a centralised sales model in Spain is of utmost importance, if not long overdue.

Concrete plans to reintroduce a system of joint selling for the media rights of the Primera División, Segunda División A, and la Copa del Rey by means of a Royal Decree were already announced two years ago. The road has surely been long and bumpy. The draft Decree is finally on the table, but now it misses political approval. All the parties involved are blaming each other for the current failure: the LNFP blames the Sport Governmental Council for Sport (CSD) for not taking the lead; the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) is arguing that the Federation and non-professional football entities should receive more money and that it should have a stronger say in the matter in accordance with the FIFA Statutes;  and there are widespread rumours that the two big earners, Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, are actively lobbying to prevent the Royal Decree of actually being adopted.

To keep the soap opera drama flowing,  on 30 December 2014, FASFE (an organisation consisting of groups of fans, club members, and minority shareholders of several Spanish professional football clubs) and the International Soccer Centre (a movement that aims to obtain more balanced and transparent football and basketball competitions in Spain) filed an antitrust complaint with the European Commission against the LNFP. They argue that the current system of individual selling of LNFP media rights, with unequal shares of revenue widening the gap between clubs, violates EU competition law.


Source:http://www.gopixpic.com/600/buscar%C3%A1n-el-amor-verdadero-nueva-novela-de-televisa/http:%7C%7Cassets*zocalo*com*mx%7Cuploads%7Carticles%7C5%7C134666912427*jpg/

More...



The 2014 Dortmund judgment: what potential for a follow-on class action? By Zygimantas Juska

Class actions are among the most powerful legal tools available in the US to enforce competition rules. With more than 75 years of experience, the American system offers valuable lessons about the benefits and drawbacks of class actions for private enforcement in competition law. Once believed of as only a US phenomenon, class actions are slowly becoming reality in the EU. After the adoption of the Directive on damages actions in November 2014, the legislative initiative in collective redress (which could prescribe a form of class actions) is expected in 2017.[1] Some pro-active Member States have already taken steps to introduce class actions in some fashion, like, for example, Germany.

What is a class action? It is a lawsuit that allows many similar legal claims with a common interest to be bundled into a single court action. Class actions facilitate access to justice for potential claimants, strengthen the negotiating power and contribute to the efficient administration of justice. This legal mechanism ensures a possibility to claim cessation of illegal behavior (injunctive relief) or to claim compensation for damage suffered (compensatory relief).  More...

The Pechstein ruling of the OLG München - A Rough Translation

The Pechstein decision of the Oberlandesgericht of Munich is “ground-breaking”, “earth-shaking”, “revolutionary”, name it. It was the outmost duty of a “German-reading” sports lawyer to translate it as fast as possible in order to make it available for the sports law community at large (Disclaimer: This is not an official translation and I am no certified legal translator). Below you will find the rough translation of the ruling (the full German text is available here), it is omitting solely the parts, which are of no direct interest to international sports law.

The future of CAS is in the balance and this ruling should trigger some serious rethinking of the institutional set-up that underpins it. As you will see, the ruling is not destructive, the Court is rather favourable to the function of CAS in the sporting context, but it requires a fundamental institutional reshuffling. It also offers a fruitful legal strategy to challenge CAS awards that could be used in front of any national court of the EU as it is based on reasoning analogically applicable to article 102 TFEU (on abuse of a dominant position), which is valid across the EU’s territory.

Enjoy the read! 

Antoine

PS: The translation can also be downloaded at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2561297

 More...




From Veerpalu to Lalluka: ‘one step forward, two steps back’ for CAS in dealing with Human Growth Hormone tests (by Thalia Diathesopoulou)

In autumn 2011, the Finnish cross-country skier Juha Lalluka, known as a “lone-wolf” because of his training habit, showed an adverse analytical finding with regard to human growth hormone (hGH). The timing was ideal. As the FINADA Supervisory Body in view of the A and B positive samples initiated disciplinary proceedings against Lalluka for violation of anti-doping rules, the Veerpalu case was pending before the CAS. At the athlete’s request, the Supervisory Board postponed the proceedings until the CAS rendered the award in the Veerpalu case. Indeed, on 25 March 2013, the CAS shook the anti-doping order: it cleared Andrus Veerpalu of an anti-doping rule violation for recombinant hGH (rhGH) on the grounds that the decision limits set by WADA to define the ratio beyond which the laboratories should report the presence of rhGH had not proven scientifically reliable.

The Veerpalu precedent has become a rallying flag for athletes suspected of use of hGH and confirmed some concerns raised about the application of the hGH test. Not surprisingly, Sinkewitz and Lallukka followed the road that Veerpalu paved and sought to overturn their doping ban by alleging the scientific unreliability of the hGH decisions limits. Without success, however. With the full text of the CAS award on the Lallukka case released a few weeks ago[1] and the new rules of the 2015 WADA Code coming into force, we grasp the opportunity to outline the ambiguous approach of CAS on the validity of the hGH test. In short: Should the Veerpalu case and its claim that doping sanctions should rely on scientifically well founded assessments be considered as a fundamental precedent or as a mere exception? More...

State Aid and Sport: does anyone really care about rugby? By Beverley Williamson

There has been a lot of Commission interest in potential state aid to professional football clubs in various Member States.  The huge sums of money involved are arguably an important factor in this interest and conversely, is perhaps the reason why state aid in rugby union is not such a concern. But whilst the sums of money may pale into comparison to those of professional football, the implications for the sport are potentially no less serious.

At the end of the 2012/2013 season, Biarritz Olympique (Biarritz) were relegated from the elite of French Rugby Union, the Top 14 to the Pro D2.  By the skin of their teeth, and as a result of an injection of cash from the local council (which amounted to 400,000€), they were spared administrative relegation to the amateur league below, the Fédérale 1, which would have occurred as a result of the financial state of the club.More...

State aid in Croatia and the Dinamo Zagreb case

Introduction

The year 2015 promises to be crucial, and possibly revolutionary, for State aid in football. The European Commission is taking its time in concluding its formal investigations into alleged State aid granted to five Dutch clubs and several Spanish clubs, including Valencia CF and Real Madrid, but the final decisions are due for 2015.

A few months ago, the Commission also received a set of fresh State aid complaints originating from the EU’s newest Member State Croatia. The complaints were launched by a group of minority shareholders of the Croatian football club Hajduk Split, who call themselves Naš Hajduk. According to Naš Hajduk, Hajduk Split’s eternal rival, GNK Dinamo Zagreb, has received more than 30 million Euros in unlawful aid by the city of Zagreb since 2006.More...

“The Odds of Match Fixing – Facts & Figures on the integrity risk of certain sports bets”. By Ben Van Rompuy

Media reports and interested stakeholders often suggest that certain types of sports bets would significantly increase the risks of match fixing occurring. These concerns also surface in policy discussions at both the national and European level. Frequently calls are made to prohibit the supply of “risky” sports bets as a means to preserve the integrity of sports competitions.

Questions about the appropriateness of imposing such limitations on the regulated sports betting, however, still linger. The lack of access to systematic empirical evidence on betting-related match fixing has so far limited the capacity of academic research to make a proper risk assessment of certain types of sports bets. 

The ASSER International Sports Law Centre has conducted the first-ever study that assesses the integrity risks of certain sports bets on the basis of quantitative empirical evidence. 

We uniquely obtained access to key statistics from Sportradar’s Fraud Detection System (FDS). A five-year dataset of football matches worldwide, which the FDS identified as likely to have been targeted by match fixers, enabled us to observe patterns and correlations with certain types of sports bets. In addition, representative samples of football bets placed with sports betting operator Betfair were collected and analysed. 

The results presented in this report, which challenge several claims about the alleged risks generated by certain types of sports bets, hope to inform policy makers about the cost-effectiveness of imposing limits on the regulated sports betting offer.More...

The Pechstein ruling of the Oberlandesgericht München - Time for a new reform of CAS?

Editor's note (13 July 2015): We (Ben Van Rompuy and I) have just published on SSRN an article on the Pechstein ruling of the OLG. It is available at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2621983. Feel free to download it and to share any feedback with us!


On 15 January 2015, the earth must have been shaking under the offices of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne when the Oberlandesgericht München announced its decision in the Pechstein case. If not entirely unpredictable, the decision went very far (further than the first instance) in eroding the legal foundations on which sports arbitration rests. It is improbable (though not impossible) that the highest German civil court, the Bundesgerichtshof (BGH), which will most likely be called to pronounce itself in the matter, will entirely dismiss the reasoning of the Oberlandesgericht. This blogpost is a first examination of the legal arguments used (Disclaimer: it is based only on the official press release, the full text of the ruling will be published in the coming months).More...



In blood we trust? The Kreuziger Biological Passport Case. By Thalia Diathesopoulou

Over the last twenty years, professional cycling has developed the reputation of one of the “most drug soaked sports in the world”.[1] This should not come as a surprise. The sport’s integrity has plummeted down due to an unprecedented succession of doping scandals. La crème de la crème of professional cyclists has been involved in doping incidents including Tyler Hamilton, Floyd Landis, Alejandro Valverde and Lance Armstrong. The once prestigious Tour de France has been stigmatized as a race of “pharmacological feat, not a physical one”.[2]

In view of these overwhelming shadows, in 2008, the International Cycling Union (UCI), in cooperation with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) took a leap in the fight against doping. It became the first International Sports Federation to implement a radical new anti-doping program known as the Athlete Biological Passport (ABP).[3] More...

A Question of (dis)Proportion: The CAS Award in the Luis Suarez Biting Saga

The summer saga surrounding Luis Suarez’s vampire instincts is long forgotten, even though it might still play a role in his surprisingly muted football debut in FC Barcelona’s magic triangle. However, the full text of the CAS award in the Suarez case has recently be made available on CAS’s website and we want to grasp this opportunity to offer a close reading of its holdings. In this regard, one has to keep in mind that “the object of the appeal is not to request the complete annulment of the sanction imposed on the Player” (par.33). Instead, Suarez and Barcelona were seeking to reduce the sanction imposed by FIFA. In their eyes, the four-month ban handed out by FIFA extending to all football-related activities and to the access to football stadiums was excessive and disproportionate. Accordingly, the case offered a great opportunity for CAS to discuss and analyse the proportionality of disciplinary sanctions based on the FIFA Disciplinary Code (FIFA DC).  More...

Asser International Sports Law Blog | FIFA’s provision on the protection of minors - Part 1: The Early Years. By Kester Mekenkamp.

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

FIFA’s provision on the protection of minors - Part 1: The Early Years. By Kester Mekenkamp.

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 thesis. 


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.[1] 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.[2] 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.[3] 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. This first part will shed its light on the “birth” and “first years” of the provision, thereby illustrating the relevant developments from 2001 till 2009. The heart of this analysis is formed by two decisions of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (“CAS”): The Acuña and FC Midtjylland case. The second part shall subsequently cover the rule’s “adolescent years”, which span from 2009 to the present. Therein, the major changes put forward in the 2009, 2015 and 2016 versions of the RSTP will be addressed, together with the important CAS decisions concerning Article 19. The third, and final, part will constitute a substantive assessment of the provision under EU Internal Market law. 


The first years, from 2001 onwards[4]

The 2001 “Commission-condoned” FIFA transfer rules included for the first time a section dedicated to the enhancement of the protection of minors.[5] An accompanying circular by FIFA stipulated that the new transfer rules imposed strict conditions “in order to provide a stable environment for the training and education of players”.[6] Moreover, stating that abuses frequent in the past had to be tackled, it seemed to inaugurate a new era of safeguarding young footballers.[7] The starting point of the new provision is a general prohibition for players under the age of 18 (“minor”) to transfer internationally.[8] The same principles apply to a so-called “first registration” of a minor who requests to be registered in a country other than that of his nationality.[9] An absolute transfer ban however was apparently deemed too radical.[10] The prohibition was therefore made subject to two exceptions. Firstly, the “parents-rule” allows for minors to transfer internationally when their family moves to a country, in which the new club is located, for “reasons not related to football”.[11] Secondly, within the territory of the EU and EEA, players younger than 18 but above the minimum working age can transfer internationally, given that their sporting and academic education is guaranteed by the new training club.[12] FIFA further stressed its intention to issue, together with UEFA, a code of conduct guiding the national associations regarding these conditional arrangements.[13] However, this self-obligation was removed from the subsequent 2005 edition of the RSTP.[14]

Only a year after the introduction of the new rules, the first adaptations were made in response to concerns raised by national associations.[15] FIFA’s Players Status Committee (“PSC”, FIFA’s competent body adjudicating any disputes on matters related to the protection of minors) decided to add a third exception, which became known as the “50 + 50-rule”.[16] Hereby it aimed at dealing with the case of players living close to national borders where “cross-border traffic is a daily matter”.[17] Those young players living within this 50 km range may attend a club of a neighbouring association if that club is similarly situated within a 50 km distance of the border, provided that these players remain living at home. The two-part FIFA Circular is rather ambiguous in its explanation, stating on the one hand that minors in this situation can solely “train” with the club situated across the border,[18] while on the other hand introducing a full exception to the transfer ban (thereby permitting a “complete” international transfer).[19] This latter view is in accordance with the regulations’ revision that entered into force on 1 July 2005.[20] Next to adding the “50 + 50-rule”, the new article 19 RSTP slightly adjusted and hence further clarified the first two exceptions. A minor can transfer internationally only if his “parents” move to another country for reasons not related to football, restricting the scope of the rule from “family” to “parents”.[21] Moreover, with respect to the “EU and EEA-rule” it set the international standard of 16 as the minimum age and spelled out several additional requirements on the arrangements made by the recruiting club for the academic education of the transferred player.[22] These oblige the club to: “provide the player with an adequate football education and/or training in line with the highest national standards”; “guarantee an academic or vocational education which will allow the player to pursue a career other than football”; “ensure that the player is looked after in the best possible way” by arranging housing with optimal living standards; and “provide its association with proof of compliance”.[23] Importantly, paragraph 4 orders national associations to safeguard compliance by clubs and paragraph 5 installs the PSC as the competent body to adjudicate in this field.[24] Hence, more explicit accountability and control was established concerning the abidance with the rules on the protection of minors.

In early 2007, FIFA issued a commentary on the RSTP in order to further clarify the separate provisions.[25] It stipulated that the international transfer of minors should be subject to stern restrictions in order to provide a stable environment for the player’s training and education.[26] Furthermore, “the term ‘parents’ has to be understood in a strict way”, a minor therefore cannot live with a close relative in the country of the new club. The document acknowledges that the “EU and EEA-rule” was adopted as to not interfere with EU free movement law.[27] National associations are once more reminded that they possess a vital role in ensuring compliance, amongst other by carrying our on-spot investigations regarding the mandatory educational arrangements if need be.[28] 


The Acuña case

These rules have not operated in a vacuum. The real effect of the provisions on the protection of minors has been shaped by the judicial practice of FIFA, through the PSC, and first and foremost the Court of Arbitration for Sport (“CAS”, the competent institution that deals with appeals contra FIFA’s internal decisions).[29]

The first (published) case before the CAS concerning a dispute on the provision’s content was Càdiz C.F. and Carlos Javier Acuña Caballero v. FIFA and Asociación Paraguaya de Fútbol.[30] In January 2005, the 16-year-old Acuña Caballero represented his Paraguayan club Olimpia in an international tournament for players under 20. His successful performance led to foreign interest, and on 14 February 2005 he, together with his family, left Paraguay for Cádiz, Spain.[31] Three days later, Cádiz C.F. (a club meandering through the Spanish second and third league) and the player signed an employment contract, and subsequently Olimpia agreed to the transfer.[32] However the Paraguayan football association refused to issue the compulsory international transfer certificate (“ITC”), referring to Acuña Caballero’s age.[33] The FIFA PSC decided upon the matter on 26 August 2005 by verifying whether the requirements of the “parents-rule” of Article 19(2)(a) RSTP were observed. By highlighting the apparent lack of intention to continue his education besides football, as well as the fact that the mother’s employment contract commenced much later than her son’s, the PSC found the case to be in total contradiction with the letter and spirit of the exemption: “the mother would have followed the player”[34], instead of the other way round. The PSC noted that the protection of minors is one of the fundamental principles of the RSTP, which requires the strict application of Article 19, and consequently refused the request of the Spanish association to register Acuña with Cádiz C.F.[35] Both the club and the player appealed this decision before the CAS, after which the tribunal organized a hearing of all parties concerned and several witnesses in order to grasp the factual context of this international transfer.[36] The CAS Panel swiftly countered the appellants’ views by stating that FIFA’s rules limiting the international transfer of minors do not violate any mandatory principle of public policy under Swiss law or any other national or international law, insofar that “they pursue a legitimate objective, namely the protection of young players from international transfers which could disrupt their lives, particularly if, as often happens the football career eventually fails or, anyways, is not as successful as expected and they are proportionate to the objective sought, as they provide for some reasonable exceptions”.[37] Subsequently it explained that, it had to be determined whether the move of the mother was related to the transfer of her son, and ergo whether the exception of article 19(2)(a) was applicable? The Panel found that “the players’ decision to move to Spain was made first”[38], by emphasizing the inconsistencies in the appellants’ statements, and as a result thereof doubting their truthfulness.[39] Furthermore, the club’s submission stated that “from all the possibilities, the offer made by CÁDIZ C.F. was the most suited to his parents’ wishes”, which lead the Panel to believe that in fact the clubs’ offer for her son made the mother look for a suitable job in Cádiz.[40] As such, the Panel established that the appellants could not benefit from the exception, since it concluded that Acuña’s family moved “for reasons linked to football”.[41]

The Acuña case exhibits a strict application of the rule. This strict application, although being in line with FIFA’s policy, lead to a disadvantageous outcome for the minor in question.[42] As argued by the player, his life in Paraguay meant living alone in a small apartment at his agent’s house and only seeing his mother two or three times a year.[43] The move to Spain allowed him to live with his mother and was therefore positive for both his career and his family. The CAS Panel addressed this matter by stating that “the task of the CAS is not to revise the content of the applicable rules but only to apply them”.[44] Moreover, it stressed that any adverse consequences in relation to the refusal to allow the player to be registered with the club were the result of the appellants own actions. The Panel finally put forward that the player would not have to face the adverse consequence for long as he would turn 18 in a couple of months.[45] 


The FC Midtjylland case

The next confrontation followed suit: the case of FC Midtjylland.[46] The Danish Superligaen club came in FIFA’s crosshairs through a FIFPro complaint concerning the signing of six young Nigerians.[47] These players were registered as amateurs and played for Midtjylland’s youth teams. Additionally, they were granted short-term residence permits as students, excluding the right to work, and enrolled in the Danish educational program.[48] The FIFA PSC emphasized that Article 19 RSTP on the protection of minors, being one of the principles included in the FIFA/UEFA and European Commission agreement and “one of the pillars of the regulations”, is applicable to both amateur and professional players.[49] Thereto, only a strict, consistent and systematically implemented interdiction subject to very limited exceptions could stop the abuse and maltreatment of many young players. The PSC hence warned the Danish Football Association (DBU) and FC Midtjylland, and subsequently refused the registration of the players.[50]

The CAS Panel addressed four main issues in relation to what had been brought to the fore in the parties’ submissions concerning Article 19 RSTP:

1. Is it applicable to both professional and amateur minor players?

2. What are the exceptions and are any of these applicable?

3. Does the application of the provision “contradict any mandatory provision of public policy or any of the provisions of EC Law”? Is there a breach of the non-discrimination principle, following the alleged inconsistent approach of FIFA?[51]

In short, the Panel answered the first question in the affirmative, based on a textual approach together with taking due notice of the intended objective as “to apply Art. 19 of the RSTP restrictively to professional players only could result in obviating protection of young amateur players from the risk of abuse and ill treatment”.[52] As to the second question, it was noted that the codified exceptions provided in Article 19(2) RSTP were not applicable to the case at hand. Nevertheless, the Panel regarded this list not to be exhaustive and allowed for two additional exceptions relating to students: first, “where the players concerned could establish without any doubt that the reason for relocation to another country was related to their studies, and not to their activity as football players”, and second, “where the association of origin and the new club of the players concerned have signed an agreement within the scope of a development program for young players under certain strict conditions (agreement on the academic and/or school education, authorization granted for a limited period of time)”.[53] Yet, neither of these additional exceptions applied here.[54] The third issue was related to appellant’s Cotonou Agreement argument.[55] The Panel agreed that the non-discrimination rights are conferred by article 13(3) of the Cotonou Agreement to “Workers of ACP countries legally employed in its territory”.[56] Nonetheless, the Nigerian players in question are to be considered as “students”, not as “workers” legally employed in Denmark, which means they fall outside the scope of this provision.[57] The Panel moreover dismissed, based on that same reasoning, the appellant’s claim founded on the Simutenkov[58] case in their attempt for the “EU and EEA-rule” of Article 19(2)(b) RSTP to be applicable.[59] The Panel furthermore stressed with regard to this third question that agreements between the EU and third countries that prohibit discrimination in working conditions are clearly limited in scope to foreigners “legally employed in the Member States” and do not concern access to the employment market.[60] It also endorsed the Acuña case in that the FIFA rules limiting the international transfer of minor players “do not violate any mandatory principle of public policy and do not constitute any restriction to the fundamental rights that would have to be considered as not admissible”.[61] Lastly on the fourth issue, in reaction to the appellant’s allegation that FIFA’s approach was inconsistent and favoured bigger clubs (by reference to Bayern München’s registering a minor player from South America), the CAS solely pointed at the general principle “that no one can claim for equal treatment by referring to someone else who has adopted an illegal conduct, without sanction (nemini dolus alienus prodesse debet)”.[62] Concluding, FC Midtjylland was found to have breached Article 19 RSTP as the CAS favoured a strict interpretation, yet simultaneously, it allowed for two additional implicit exceptions for students.

Around this point in time, the European Commission’s attention was also drawn to the protection of minors in sport. In its white paper on sport, it  pointed at “children who are not selected for competitions and abandoned in a foreign country, often falling in this way in an irregular position which fosters their further exploitation”.[63] Even though it makes reference to neither of the two abovementioned cases, this explicit consideration by the Commission, emphasizing the importance of protecting minors, could be seen as an indirect endorsement, prima facie, of the strict interpretation of Article 19 RSTP by CAS.

The next, second, part of this blog series shall aim to cover 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. Furthermore, important CAS decisions concerning Article 19, Muhic, Vada I and II, FC Barcelona, RFEF, and the FIFA decisions relating to Real and Atlético Madrid, will be at the centre of the attention. 




[1] CNN, 24 November 2016, “FIFA: African footballer, 17, takes world governing body to court

[2] Article 19 FIFA RSTP (2016)

[3] Eurosport, 24 November, “FIFA faces lawsuit over rules banning transfer of minors

[4] The text of this blog contribution is part of my forthcoming thesis, which shall be submitted in order to complete my master’s degree in European Law at Leiden University.

[5] Art. 12 FIFA RSTP 2001.

[6] FIFA Circular no. 769, 24 August 2001.

[7] N. St. Cyr Clarke, “The beauty and the beast: Taming the ugly side of the people’s game”, 2011 CJEL, P. 627.

[8] Art. 12(1) FIFA RSTP 2001.

[9] Art. 12(2) FIFA RSTP 2001.

[10] Press release EU Commission, IP/01/29, 14 February 2001.

[11] Art. 12(1)(a) FIFA RSTP 2001.

[12] Art. 12(1)(b) FIFA RSTP 2001.

[13] FIFA Circular no. 769, 24 August 2001.

[14] F. de Weger, “The Jurisprudence of the FIFA Dispute Resolution Chamber”, 2nd edition, Asser Press (2016), p. 14.

[15] FIFA Circular no. 801, 28 March 2002.

[16] Supra at 14, pp. 36-37.

[17] Supra at 15.

[18] Ibid.

[19] New Art. 12(1)(c) FIFA RSTP 2001 in FIFA Circular no. 801, 28 March 2002, “Amendments to the FIFA Regulations for the Status and Transfer of Players”.

[20] Art. 19(2)(c) FIFA RSTP 2005.

[21] Art. 19(2)(a) FIFA RSTP 2005.

[22] Art. 19(2)(b) FIFA RSTP 2005.

[23] C. Lembo, “FIFA Transfer Regulations and UEFA Player Eligibility Rules: Major Changes In European Football And The Negative Effect On Minors”, Emory Int'l L. Rev 2005, p. 557.

[24] Art. 19(4) and 19(5) FIFA RSTP 2005.

[25] FIFA Circular no. 1075, 18 January 2007.

[26] Commentary on the Status and Transfer of Players, p. 58.

[27] Ibid, p. 59.

[28] Ibid, p. 59.

[29] For more information see A. Duval, “The FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players: Transnational Law-Making in the Shadow of Bosman” in A. Duval and B. Van Rompuy (Eds.) “The Legacy of Bosman”, Asser Press (2016), pp. 81-116; A. Duval “The Court of Arbitration for Sport and EU Law. Chronicle of an Encounter”, MJ 2015, pp. 224-256.

[30] CAS 2005/A/955 Càdiz C.F., SAD v FIFA and Asociación Paraguaya de Fútbol and CAS 2005/A/956 Carlos Javier Acuña Caballero v/FIFA and Asociación Paraguaya de Fútbol.

[31] Ibid, para. 2.5.

[32] Ibid, paras. 2.6-2.7.

[33] Ibid, para. 2.10.

[34] Ibid, para. 2.16.

[35] Ibid, para. 2.17.

[36] Ibid, paras. 3.6-3.17.

[37] Ibid, para. 7.2.

[38] Ibid, para. 7.3.1.

[39] Ibid, paras. 7.3.2-7.3.5; Especially the circumstances surrounding the mother’s search for a job, the agreement between her and her employer, and the reasons why she decided to take up work in Cádiz while, being a cook, she could have worked anywhere in Spain, did not assist to their case.

[40] Ibid, para. 7.3.6.

[41] Ibid, para. 7.3.8.

[42] FIFA Circular no. 801, 28 March 2002.

[43] Supra at 30, para. 3.3.5 and 3.11.

[44] Ibid, para. 7.3.10.

[45] Ibid, para. 7.3.10.

[46] CAS 2008/A/1485 FC Midtjylland A/S v. Féderation Internationale de Football Association.

[47] A. Wild, “Young Football Players: Protection of Minors” in “CAS and Football: Landmark Cases”, Asser Press (2012), p. 249.

[48] Ibid, p. 250.

[49] Supra at 46, p. 3.

[50] Ibid, p. 4.

[51] Ibid, para. 10.

[52] Ibid, para. 15.

[53] Ibid, paras. 19-21.

[54] Ibid, para. 22.

[55] The Cotonou agreement between the EU and certain African, Caribbean and Pacific States, including Nigeria; Ibid, paras. 30-31.

[56] Supra at 46, para. 35.

[57] Ibid, para. 36.

[58] Case C-265/03 Simutenkov v Ministerio de Educación y Cultura and RFEFl [2005] ECR I-2579, Therein the ECJ ruled that non-EU/EEA sportsmen can challenge nationality clauses if: they are legally employed in a host EU Member State and “can rely upon a directly effective equal treatment provision included in an international agreement establishing a partnership between the EU and their country of origin, regardless of whether accession to the EU is envisaged or not”, see S. Van den Bogaert, “From Bosman to Bernard” in J. Anderson (Ed.), “Leading Cases in Sports Law”, T.M.C. Asser Press (2013), p. 104.

[59] Supra at 46, para. 40.

[60] Ibid, para. 41.

[61] Ibid, para. 45; Supra at 30, para. 7.2.

[62] Supra at 46, paras. 47-49.

[63] The White Paper on Sport (COM 2007) 391 final, point 4.5; European Parliament, Report on the on the future of professional football in Europe (2006/2130(INI)), p. 25.

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Asser International Sports Law Blog

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

ASSER Exclusive! Interview with Charles “Chuck” Blazer by Piotr Drabik

Editor’s note: Chuck Blazer declined our official interview request but thanks to some trusted sources (the FIFA indictment and Chuck’s testimony) we have reconstructed his likely answers. This is a fictional interview. Any resemblance with real facts is purely coincidental.



Mr Blazer, thank you for agreeing to this interview, especially considering the circumstances. How are you doing?

I am facing ten charges concerning, among others, conspiracy to corrupt and money laundering. But apart from that, I am doing great (laughs)!

 

It is good to know that you have not lost your spirit. And since you’ve been involved in football, or as you call it soccer, for years could you please first tell us what was your career at FIFA and its affiliates like?

Let me see… Starting from the 1990s I was employed by and associated with FIFA and one of its constituent confederations, namely the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF). At various times, I also served as a member of several FIFA standing committees, including the marketing and television committee. As CONCACAF’s general secretary, a position I proudly held for 21 years, I was responsible, among many other things, for negotiations concerning media and sponsorship rights. From 1997 to 2013 I also served at FIFA’s executive committee where I participated in the selection process of the host countries for the World Cup tournaments. Those years at the helm of world soccer were truly amazing years of travel and hard work mainly for the good of the beautiful game. I might add that I even managed to document some of my voyages on my blog. I initially called it “Travels with Chuck Blazer” but Vladimir (Putin) convinced me to change the name to “Travels with Chuck Blazer and his Friends”. You should check it out.

 More...



Financial Fair Play: Lessons from the 2014 and 2015 settlement practice of UEFA. By Luis Torres

UEFA announced on 8 May that it had entered into Financial Fair Play settlement agreements with 10 European football clubs. Together with the four other agreements made in February 2015, this brings the total to 14 FFP settlements for 2015 and 23 since UEFA adopted modifications in its Procedural rules and allowed settlements agreements to be made between the Clubs and the Chief Investigator of the UEFA Club Financial Control Body (CFCB).[1] 

In the two years during which UEFA’s FFP regulations have been truly up and running we have witnessed the centrality taken by the settlement procedure in their enforcement. It is extremely rare for a club to be referred to the FFP adjudication chamber. In fact, only the case regarding Dynamo Moscow has been referred to the adjudication chamber. Thus, having a close look at the settlement practice of UEFA is crucial to gaining a good understanding of the functioning of FFP. Hence, this blog offers a detailed analysis of this year’s settlement agreements and compares them with last year’s settlements. More...

Book Review: Reforming FIFA, or Not

Editor’s note: This short book review will be published in a different format in the International Sports Law Journal, due to its timeliness we decided to reproduce it here. 

Reforming FIFA, or Not

 Antoine Duval

Book Review: Mark Pieth (ed.), Reforming FIFA, Dike Verlag, St. Gallen, 2014, 28.00 CHF, p.178

 


This book looks back at the work of the Independence Governance Committee (IGC). This Committee, constituted in 2011, had as primary objective to drive a reform process of FIFA initiated by its President Sepp Blatter. After ordering from the Swiss anti-corruption expert Mark Pieth, a report on the state of FIFA’s governance, FIFA decided to mandate him with the leadership of a consulting body composed of a mix of independent experts and football insiders, which would be accompanying and supervising the internal reform process of FIFA. The IGC was officially dissolved at the end of 2013, after completing its mandate. The book is composed of eight chapters, written by former members of the IGC, including former chairman Mark Pieth. In addition to the chapters, it includes the different reports (available here, here and here) submitted by the IGC to FIFA across the years. In the words of Pieth, this account is “fascinating because it gives a hands-on, realistic perspective of the concrete efforts, the achievements and the remaining challenges in the struggle for the reform of this organization [FIFA], avoiding the usual glorification or vilification.”[1] This review will first summarize the core of the account of the FIFA reform process provided by the book, before critically engaging with the outcome of the process and outlining the deficiencies that culminated on 29 May 2015 with the re-election of Sepp Blatter as FIFA president.More...



The Spanish TV Rights Distribution System after the Royal Decree: An Introduction. By Luis Torres

On the first of May 2015, the Spanish Government finally signed the Royal Decree allowing the joint selling of the media rights of the Spanish top two football leagues. The Minister for Sport stated that the Decree will allow clubs to “pay their debts with the social security and the tax authorities and will enable the Spanish teams to compete with the biggest European Leagues in terms of revenues from the sale of media rights”.[1]Although the signing of the Royal Decree was supposed to close a very long debate and discussion between the relevant stakeholders, its aftermath shows that the Telenovela is not entirely over. 

This blog post will first provide the background story to the selling of media rights in Spain. It will, thereafter, analyse the main points of the Royal Decree and outline how the system will work in practice. Finally, the blog will shortly address the current frictions between the Spanish League (LFP) and the Spanish football federation (RFEF).More...

Sport and EU Competition Law: New developments and unfinished business. By Ben Van Rompuy

Editor's note: Ben Van Rompuy, Head of the ASSER International Sports Law Centre, was recently interviewed by LexisNexis UK for their in-house adviser service. With kind permission from LexisNexis we reproduce the interview on our blog in its entirety. 

How does competition law affect the sports sector?  

The application of EU competition law to the sports sector is a fairly recent and still unfolding development. It was only in the mid-1990s, due to the growing commercialization of professional sport, that there emerged a need to address competition issues in relation to, for instance, ticketing arrangements or the sale of media rights.  More...



Is FIFA fixing the prices of intermediaries? An EU competition law analysis - By Georgi Antonov (ASSER Institute)

Introduction

On 1 April 2015, the new FIFA Regulations on Working with Intermediaries (hereinafter referred as the Regulations) came into force. These Regulations introduced a number of changes as regards the division of competences between FIFA and its members, the national associations. A particularly interesting issue from an EU competition law perspective is the amended Article 7 of the Regulations. Under paragraph 3, which regulates the rules on payments to intermediaries (also previously referred to as ‘agents’), it is recommended that the total amount of remuneration per transaction due to intermediaries either being engaged to act on a player’s or club’s behalf should not exceed 3% of the player’s basic gross income for the entire duration of the relevant employment contract. In the case of transactions due to intermediaries who have been engaged to act on a club’s behalf in order to conclude a transfer agreement, the total amount of remuneration is recommended to not exceed 3% of the eventual transfer fee paid in relation to the relevant transfer of the player.More...

The Impact of the new FIFA Regulations for Intermediaries: A comparative analysis of Brazil, Spain and England. By Luis Torres

INTRODUCTION

Almost a year after their announcement, the new FIFA Regulations on working with Intermediaries (“FIFA Regulations”) came into force on 1 April 2015. Their purpose is to create a more simple and transparent system of regulation of football agents. It should be noted, however, that the new FIFA rules enable every national football association to regulate their own system on players’ intermediaries, provided they respect the compulsory minimum requirements adopted. In an industry that is already cutthroat, it thus remains to be seen whether FIFA’s “deregulation” indeed creates transparency, or whether it is a Pandora’s Box to future regulatory confusion.

This blog post will provide an overview of the new FIFA Regulations on working with intermediaries and especially its minimum requirements. Provided that national associations are encouraged to “draw up regulations that shall incorporate the principles established in these provisions”[1], three different national regulations have been taken as case-studies: the English FA Regulations, the Spanish RFEF Regulations and the Brazilian CBF Regulations. After mapping their main points of convergence and principal differences, the issues that could arise from these regulatory differences shall be analyzed.  More...

Blog Symposium: Why FIFA's TPO ban is justified. By Prof. Dr. Christian Duve

Introduction: FIFA’s TPO ban and its compatibility with EU competition law.
Day 1: FIFA must regulate TPO, not ban it.
Day 2: Third-party entitlement to shares of transfer fees: problems and solutions
Day 3: The Impact of the TPO Ban on South American Football.
Day 4: Third Party Investment from a UK Perspective. 

Editor’s note: Finally, the last blog of our TPO ban Symposium has arrived! Due to unforeseen circumstances, FIFA had to reconsider presenting its own views on the matter. However, FIFA advised us to contact Prof. Dr. Christian Duve to author the eagerly awaited blog on their behalf. Prof. Dr. Christian Duve is a lawyer and partner with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP and an honorary professor at the University of Heidelberg. He has been a CAS arbitrator until 2014. Thus, as planned, we will conclude this symposium with a post defending the compatibility of the TPO ban with EU law. Many thanks to Prof. Dr. Duve for having accepted this last-minute challenge! More...






Blog Symposium: Third Party Investment from a UK Perspective. By Daniel Geey

Introduction: FIFA’s TPO ban and its compatibility with EU competition law.
Day 1: FIFA must regulate TPO, not ban it.
Day 2: Third-party entitlement to shares of transfer fees: problems and solutions
Day 3: The Impact of the TPO Ban on South American Football.
Day 5: Why FIFA's TPO ban is justified.

Editor's note: In this fourth part of our blog symposium on FIFA's TPO ban Daniel Geey shares his 'UK perspective' on the ban. The English Premier League being one of the first leagues to have outlawed TPO in 2010, Daniel will outline the regulatory steps taken to do so and critically assess them. Daniel is an associate in Field Fisher Waterhouse LLP's Competition and EU Regulatory Law Group. As well as being a famous 'football law' twitterer, he has also published numerous articles and blogs on the subject.

 

What is Third Party Investment?
In brief Third Party Investment (TPI) in the football industry, is where a football club does not own, or is not entitled to, 100% of the future transfer value of a player that is registered to play for that team. There are numerous models for third party player agreements but the basic premise is that companies, businesses and/or individuals provide football clubs or players with money in return for owning a percentage of a player’s future transfer value. This transfer value is also commonly referred to as a player’s economic rights. There are instances where entities will act as speculators by purchasing a percentage share in a player directly from a club in return for a lump sum that the club can then use as it wishes. More...





Blog Symposium: The Impact of the TPO Ban on South American Football. By Ariel N. Reck

Introduction: FIFA’s TPO ban and its compatibility with EU competition law.
Day 1: FIFA must regulate TPO, not ban it.
Day 2: Third-party entitlement to shares of transfer fees: problems and solutions
Day 4: Third Party Investment from a UK Perspective.
Day 5: Why FIFA's TPO ban is justified.

Editor’s note: Ariel N. Reck is an Argentine lawyer specialized in the football industry. He is a guest professor at ISDE’s Global Executive Master in International Sports Law, at the FIFA CIES Sports law & Management course (Universidad Católica Argentina) and the Universidad Austral Sports Law diploma (Argentina) among other prestigious courses. He is a regular conference speaker and author in the field of sports law.

Being an Argentine lawyer, Ariel will focus on the impact FIFA’s TPO ban will have (and is already having) on South American football.More...