Rumours are swirling around the
decision (available in French here) of the Court of Appeal of Brussels in the
case opposing RFC Seraing United to FIFA (as well as UEFA and the Belgian
Football Federation, URSBFA) over the latter’s ban on third-party ownership.
The headlines in various media are quite dramatic (see here and here), references are made to a new Bosman, or to a shaken sport’s legal system. Yet, after swiftly reading the
decision for the first time on 29th August, I did not have, unlike with the Pechstein
ruling of the Oberlandesgericht München, the immediate impression that this
would be a major game-changer for the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and
the role of arbitration in sports in general. After careful re-reading, I
understand how certain parts of the ruling can be misunderstood or
over-interpreted. I believe that much of the press coverage failed to accurately
reflect the reasoning of the court and to capture the real impact of the
decision. In order to explain why, I decided to write a short Q&A
(including the (not water-proof) English translations of some of the key
paragraphs of the decision).