Editor’s note: Stefano
Bastianon is Associate Professor in EU Law and EU sports law at the
University of Bergamo and lawyer admitted to the Busto Arsizio bar.
1. EU law and the CAS case-law
Bearing in mind these questions, it is possible to
affirm that under EU law, the specificity of sport
i) refers to the inherent characteristics of sport that
set it apart from other economic and social activities and which have to be
taken into account in assessing the compatibility of sporting rules with EU
ii) under EU law these inherent characteristics of
sport must be considered on a case by
case basis, per the Wouters test
as developed by the ECJ in the Meca Medina ruling.
Both aspects can be found in the CAS case-law too,
although the CAS case-law shows some remarkable differences and peculiarities. From
a general point of view, the application of the principle of specificity of
sport in the CAS case-law represents an aspect of the more general issue
related to the application of EU law by the CAS. However, the purpose of this
paper is not to fully examine if and to what extent the CAS arbitrators apply
EU law rules on free movement and competition; rather, the aim is to analyse
the way the CAS deals with the concept of the specificity of sport,
highlighting similarities and differences compared to the ECJ.
Taking for granted that ‘a CAS panel is not only
allowed, but also obliged to deal with the issues involving the application of
as far as the compatibility of sporting rules with EU law is concerned the CAS
case-law shows different degrees of engagement. For instance, in the ENIC
award concerning the so-called UEFA integrity rule, the CAS panel went through
a complete competition-law analysis in perfect harmony with the Wouters et al.
ruling by the ECJ.
On the contrary, in the above-quoted Mutu case, the issue of
compatibility of the FIFA’s transfer regulations with EU competition law was
analysed in a rather simple way, merely stating that the FIFA rules at stake
were not anti-competitive under EU competition law without giving any reason to
support this conclusion.
More recently, in the Galatasaray
and Milan A.C. awards, concerning the
UEFA’s financial fair-play regulations, the CAS applied a detailed analysis of EU competition
law. However, in both cases, according to the CAS the proportionate character
of sanctions listed in the UEFA’s financial fair-play regulations cannot affect
the evaluation of the legitimacy of these regulations under Art. 101 TFEU. This
conclusion represents a clear breaking point with respect to the ECJ case-law,
according to which the evaluation of the restrictive effects of a rule
necessarily presupposes the analysis of the proportionate character of the
sanction imposed in the event of a violation of that rule as well. In
regard to EU free movement, the CAS case-law tends to be less analytical in
terms of the principle of proportionality. For instance, in the RFC Seraing award which concerned both EU free movement and
competition law, the CAS panel mainly focused on the legitimate objectives of
the contested rule (FIFA’s ban on Third-Party Ownership – TPO), merely affirming
that the restrictive measures under EU free movement were justified and
inherent in the pursuit of those objectives.More...
Editor's note: In the coming days we will introduce the supporters of our upcoming ISLJ Annual International Sports Law Conference 2018 (also known as #ISLJConf18). To do so, we have sent them a tailored questionnaire aimed at reflecting both their activities and their expectations for the conference. It is a good opportunity for us to thank them for their enthusiastic support and commitment to international sports law research. We are very happy to finish this series of interviews with Sven Demeulemeester from Altius, a Belgian law firm based in Brussels with a very fine (and academically-minded!) sports law team.
1. Can you explain to our readers the work of Altius in international sports law?
Across different sports’ sectors, Altius’ sports law practice advises and assists some of the world’s most high-profile sports governing bodies, clubs and athletes, at both the national and the international level. The team has 6 fully-dedicated sports lawyers and adopts a multi-disciplinary approach, which guarantees a broad range of legal expertise for handling specific cases or wider issues related to the sports industry. We are proud to be independent but, in cross-border matters, are able to tap into a worldwide network.
2. How is it to be an international sports lawyer? What are the advantages and challenges of the job?
Sports law goes beyond one specific field of law. The multiplicity of legal angles keeps the work interesting, even after years of practising, and ensures that a sports lawyer rarely has a dull moment. The main downside is that the sports industry is fairly conservative and sometimes ‘political’. While the law is one thing, what happens in practice is often another. Bringing about change is not always easy.
3. What are the burning issues in international sports law that you would like to see discussed at the conference?
The much-anticipated overhaul of the football transfer system is eagerly anticipated and is worth a thorough debate, also in terms of possible, viable alternatives. The impact of EU law - both internal market rules, competition law and fundamental rights – can hardly be underestimated. Also, dispute resolution mechanisms within the realm of sports - and an accessible, transparent, independent and impartial sports arbitration in particular - will remain a ‘hot’ topic in the sector for years to come. Furthermore, ethics and integrity issues should remain top of the agenda, as is being demonstrated by the current money-laundering and match-fixing allegations in Belgium. Finally, in a sector in which the use of data is rife, the newly-adopted GDPR’s impact remains somewhat ‘under the radar’.
4. Why did you decide to support the ISLJ Annual International Sports Law Conference?
The ISLJ Annual International Sports Law Conference is refreshing, both in terms of its topics and participants. The academic and content-driven approach is a welcome addition to other sports law conferences in which the networking aspect often predominates.
Editor’s Note: Etienne
Gard graduated from the University of Zurich and from King's College London. He
currently manages a project in the field of digitalization with Bratschi Ltd.,
a major Swiss law firm where he did his traineeship with a focus in
international commercial arbitration.
10th of June, 1958, the Convention on the Recognition and
Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, widely known as the “New York
Convention”, was signed in New York by 10 countries. This rather shy figure progressively grew over the decades to now
reach 157 signatory countries, turning the New York Convention into the global
recognition and enforcement instrument it is today. As V.V. Veeder’s puts it, “One English law lord is said to have said, extra judicially, that the
New York Convention is both the Best Thing since sliced bread and also whatever
was the Best Thing before sliced bread replaced it as the Best Thing.”
among the overall appraisal regarding the New York Convention, some criticisms
have been expressed. For instance, some states use their public policy rather
as a pretext not to enforce an award than an actual ground for refusal. A further issue is the
recurring bias in favor of local companies. Additionally, recognition and enforcement procedures in application
of the New York Convention take place in front of State authorities, for the
most part in front of courts of law, according to national proceeding rules.
This usually leads to the retaining of a local law firm, the translation of
several documents, written submissions and one, if not several hearings. Hence,
the efficiency of the New York Convention as a recognition and enforcement
mechanism comes to the expense of both money and time of both parties of the
contrast with the field of commercial arbitration, where the New York
Convention is often considered the only viable option in order to enforce an
award, international football organizations, together with the Court of
Arbitration for Sport (“CAS”), offer an effective enforcement alternative. This
article aims at outlining the main features of the indirect enforcement of CAS
awards in football matters in light of a recent case. More...
Close to 100 participants from 37 different countries attended the first ISLJ Annual International Sports Law Conference that took place on 26-27 October 2017 in The Hague. The two-day programme featured panels on the FIFA transfer system, the labour rights and relations in sport, the protection of human rights in sport, EU law and sport, the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and the world anti-doping system. On top of that, a number of keynote speakers presented their views on contemporary topics and challenges in international sports law. This report provides a brief summary of the conference for both those who could not come and those who participated and would like to relive their time spent at the T.M.C. Asser Institute.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.
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...
Editor’s Note: Saverio Spera is an Italian lawyer and LL.M.
graduate in International Business Law at King’s College London. He is
currently an intern at the ASSER International Sports Law Centre.
This blog is a follow up to my previous contribution on the validity of Unilateral Extension Options
(hereafter UEOs) under national and European law. It focuses on the different
approaches taken to UEOs by the FIFA Dispute Resolution Chamber (DRC) and the
Court of arbitration for sport (CAS). While in general the DRC has adopted a
strict approach towards their validity, the CAS has followed a more liberal
trend. Nonetheless, the two judicial bodies share a common conclusion: UEOs are
not necessarily invalid. In this second blog I will provide an overview of the similarities
and differences of the two judicial bodies in tackling UEOs. More...
Editor’s note: Serhat
is a lecturer in sports law in Loughborough University. His research focuses on
the regulatory framework applicable to intermediaries. Antoine Duval (@Ant1Duval) is the head of
the Asser International Sports Law Centre.
Last week, while FIFA was firing
the heads of its Ethics and Governance committees, the press was overwhelmed
with ‘breaking news’ on the most expensive transfer in history, the come back
of Paul Pogba from Juventus F.C. to Manchester United. Indeed, Politiken
(a Danish newspaper) and Mediapart
(a French website specialized in investigative journalism) had jointly
discovered in the seemingly endless footballleaks
files that Pogba’s agent, Mino Raiola, was involved (and financially
interested) with all three sides (Juventus, Manchester United and Pogba) of the
transfer. In fine, Raiola earned a grand total of € 49,000,000 out of the deal,
a shocking headline number almost as high as Pogba’s total salary at
Manchester, without ever putting a foot on a pitch. This raised eyebrows,
especially that an on-going investigation by FIFA into the transfer was
mentioned, but in the media the sketching of the legal situation was very often
extremely confusing and weak. Is this type of three-way representation legal
under current rules? Could Mino Raiola, Manchester United, Juventus or Paul
Pogba face any sanctions because of it? What does this say about the
effectiveness of FIFA’s Regulations
on Working with Intermediaries? All these questions deserve thorough
answers in light of the publicity of this case, which we ambition to provide in