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
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.
pro-active Member States have already taken steps to introduce class actions in
some fashion, like, for example, Germany.
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
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 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.
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!
PS: The translation can also be downloaded at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2561297
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
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
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...
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...
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.
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...
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
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''.
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...
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.
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...
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.
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.
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
Editor's Note: Frans M. de Weger is legal counsel for the Federation of Dutch Professional Football Clubs (FBO) and CAS arbitrator. De Weger is author of the book “The Jurisprudence of the FIFA Dispute Resolution Chamber”, 2nd edition, published by T.M.C. Asser Press in 2016. Frank John Vrolijk specialises in Sports, Labour and Company Law and is a former legal trainee of FBO and DRC Database.
This second blog will focus
specifically on the sanctions available for FIFA under Article 12bis. It will provide
explanatory guidelines covering the sanctions imposed during the period
The possibility to impose
sanctions under article 12bis constitutes one of the pillars of the 12bis
procedure. Pursuant to Article 12bis of the RSTP, edition 2016, the DRC and the
PSC may impose a sanction on a club if the club is found to have delayed a due
payment for more than 30 days without a prima
facie contractual basis and the creditor have put
the debtor club in default in writing, granting a deadline of at least 10 days. The jurisprudence in
relation to Article 12bis also shows that sanctions are imposed ex officio by the DRC or the PSC and not
per request of the claimant.More...
Editor's Note: Frans M. de Weger is legal counsel
for the Federation of Dutch Professional Football Clubs (FBO) and CAS
arbitrator. De Weger is author of the book “The
Jurisprudence of the FIFA Dispute Resolution Chamber”, 2nd
edition, published by T.M.C. Asser Press in 2016. Frank John
Vrolijk specialises in Sports, Labour and Company Law and is a former legal
trainee of FBO and DRC Database.
In this first blog, we will try to answer some questions raised in
relation to the Article 12bis procedure on overdue payables based on the
jurisprudence of the DRC and the PSC during the last two years: from 1 April
2015 until 1 April 2017.
 The awards of the Court of
Arbitration for Sport (hereinafter: “the CAS”) in relation to Article 12bis
that are published on CAS’s website will also be brought to the reader’s
attention. In the second blog, we will focus specifically on the sanctions applied
by FIFA under Article 12bis. In addition, explanatory guidelines will be
offered covering the sanctions imposed during the period surveyed. A more
extensive version of both blogs is pending for publication with the
International Sports Law Journal (ISLJ). If necessary, and for a more detailed
and extensive analysis at certain points, we will make reference to this more
extensive article in the ISLJ. More...
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
The end of governance reforms at FIFA?
The main sports governance
story that surfaced in the press (see here and here) during the last month is related to significant
personal changes made by the FIFA Council within the organization’s
institutional structure. In particular, the FIFA Council dismissed the heads of
the investigatory (Mr Cornel Borbély) and adjudicatory (Mr Hans-Joachim Eckert)
chambers of the Independent Ethics Committee, as well as the Head (Mr Miguel Maduro) of the Governance and Review Committee. The decision to remove Mr Maduro was taken arguably
in response to his active role in barring Mr Vitaly Mutko, a Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, from sitting on
the FIFA Council due to an imminent conflict of interests. These events
constitute a major setback to governance reforms initiated by the football’s
world governing body in 2015. For a more detailed insight into the governance
reforms at FIFA, we invite you to read the recent blog written by our senior researcher Mr
Antoine Duval. More...
This is a follow-up
contribution to my previous blog on human rights
implications of the Olympic Games published last week. Together with
highlighting some of the most serious Olympic Games-related human rights
abuses, the first part has outlined the key elements of the Host City Contract
('HCC') as one of the main legal instruments regulating the execution of the
Olympic Games. It has also indicated that, in February 2017, the International
Olympic Committee ('IOC') revised the 2024 HCC to include, inter alia, explicit human rights
obligations. Without questioning the potential significance of inserting human
rights obligations to the 2024 HCC, this second part will refer to a number of
outstanding issues requiring clarification in order to ensure that these
newly-added human rights obligations are translated from paper to actual practice. More...