Join us on 14 December at 12:00 CET for an online discussion on FIFA and UEFA’s responsibility in responding to the incident that overshadowed Spains’ victory of the Women's World Cup, when Spanish national team player Jennifer Hermoso experienced a violation of her bodily integrity and physical autonomy due to a forced kiss given to her by Luis Rubiales, then the Spanish FA's president.
During the 2023/2024 academic year, the Asser International Sports Law Centre dedicates special attention to the intersection between transnational sports law and governance and gender. This online discussion is the second in a series of (online and offline) events, which explore the way in which international sports governing bodies define the gender divide in international sports, police gender-based abuses, and secure gender-specific rights to athletes. You can watch the recording of our first virtual discussion on the Semenya judgment of the ECtHR on our Youtube Channel.
Just minutes after the Spanish women's national team had won the FIFA Women's World Cup, Rubiales congratulated the players on the podium and grabbed Hermoso's head and kissed her on the lips. This act not only shocked the players and the audience but also caused immediate international uproar and calls for resignation. Rubiales first defended his act, claiming that Hermoso had agreed to it. However, her statements right after it happened, as well as her official statement published just a few days after the event forcefully denied the consensual nature of the kiss. Hermoso felt “vulnerable and a victim of aggression, an impulsive act, sexist, out of place and without any type of consent". Three months later, Rubiales has been suspended by FIFA for three years, resigned as president of the Spanish FA, and is facing criminal prosecution for the crimes of sexual assault and coercion in Spanish national courts.
As extreme as this case sounds, it is not. In fact, it is a reflection of structural issues that exist in the world of women's football and women's sport more generally. Furthermore, this incident raises the question of the rights of the players subjected to such behaviour and the responsibility of sports governing bodies, and FIFA and UEFA in particular, insanctioning those who are engaging in such actions. How should SGBs respond to such incidents? What type of rules and procedures should they have in place? What are the measures that should be introduced to prevent similar actions in the future? What is the role of states (the Spanish state in the present instance) in investigating and prosecuting these cases?
We look forward to discussing these issues (and many others) with our three speakers, who have followed the case closely:
Kat Craig, human rights lawyer, founder and CEO of Athlead, Senior Adviser to the Centre for Sport and Human Rights;
Alexandra Gómez Bruinewoud, is a Senior Legal Counsel at FIFPRO and a judge at the FIFA Dispute Resolution Chamber;
- Borja Garcia is Reader in Sport Policy and Governance at School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences in Loughborough University
The online discussion will be introduced and moderated by Dr Antoine Duval and Dr Daniela Heerdt, and will include short presentations by the speakers and a Q&A with the audience.
This is a free event, you can register for it HERE
Editor’s note: Daniela Heerdt is a PhD candidate at
Tilburg Law School in the Netherlands. Her PhD research deals with the
establishment of responsibility and accountability for adverse human rights impacts
of mega-sporting events, with a focus on FIFA World Cups and Olympic Games. She
recently published an article in
the International Sports Law Journal that discusses to what extent the
revised bidding and hosting regulations by FIFA, the IOC and UEFA strengthen
access to remedy for mega-sporting events-related human rights violations.
The 21st FIFA World Cup is currently
underway. Billions of people around the world follow the matches with much enthusiasm
and support. For the time being, it almost seems forgotten that in the final
weeks leading up to the events, critical reports on human rights issues related to the event piled up. This
blog explains why addressing these issues has to start well in advance of the
first ball being kicked and cannot end when the final match has been played. More...
Tomáš Grell comes from Slovakia and is currently an LL.M. student
in Public International Law at Leiden University. He contributes also to
the work of the ASSER International Sports Law Centre as a part-time
This is a follow-up
contribution to my previous blog on FIFA's responsibility for human rights abuses
in Qatar published last week. Whereas the previous part has examined the lawsuit
filed with the Commercial Court of the Canton of Zurich ('Court') jointly by the Dutch trade union FNV, the
Bangladeshi Free Trade Union Congress, the Bangladesh Building and Wood Workers
Federation and the Bangladeshi citizen Nadim Shariful Alam ('Plaintiffs')
against FIFA, this second part will focus on the Court's ruling dated 3 January
Editor’s note: Tomáš Grell comes from Slovakia and is currently an LL.M. student in Public International Law at Leiden University. He contributes also to the work of the ASSER International Sports Law Centre as a part-time intern.
On 2 December 2010, the FIFA Executive Committee elected Qatar as host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup ('World Cup'), thereby triggering a wave of controversies which underlined, for the most part, the country's modest size, lack of football history, local climate, disproportionate costs or corruption that accompanied the selection procedure. Furthermore, opponents of the decision to award the World Cup to the tiny oil-rich Gulf country also emphasized the country's negative human rights record.
More than six years later, on 3 January 2017, the Commercial Court of the Canton of Zurich ('Court') dismissed the lawsuit filed against FIFA jointly by the Dutch trade union FNV, the Bangladeshi Free Trade Union Congress, the Bangladesh Building and Wood Workers Federation and the Bangladeshi citizen Nadim Shariful Alam ('Plaintiffs'). The Plaintiffs requested the Court to find FIFA responsible for alleged human rights violations of migrant workers in connection with the World Cup in Qatar. Had the Plaintiffs' claims been upheld by the Court, such decision would have had far-reaching consequences on the fate of thousands of migrants, mostly from India, Nepal and Bangladesh, who are currently working on the construction of sporting facilities and other infrastructure associated with organization of the World Cup. 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.
Marine Montejo is a graduate from the College of
Europe in Bruges and is currently an Intern at the ASSER International Sports
The Belgian Court of Appeal released its
judgment this month regarding Doyen’s legal battle against the FIFA TPO ban.
The Appeal Court confirmed the first instance decision and ruled out any provisional
measures to block the ban’s implementation (for an in depth review, see
our blog post). More importantly, the Court
reaffirmed that Swiss based sport federations are liable in front of EU Members’
States courts when EU competition law is involved. That means the next
important step for this legal battle is whether or not the European Commission
is going to open a formal proceeding (Doyen
already lodged a complaint) to assess the compatibility,
and more importantly, the proportionality of the TPO ban with EU law. Only a
preliminary ruling by the CJEU could hasten the decision if one of the European
national courts, hearing a case brought by Doyen (France or Belgium), decided
to refer a preliminary question.More...
Gesa Kuebek holds an LLM and graduated from the University of Bologna, Gent and Hamburg as part of the Erasmus Mundus Master Programme in Law and Economics and now work as an intern for the Asser Instituut.
On Monday, 9 November,
the German Football Association (DFB) announced in a Press Release the
resignation of its head, Wolfgang Niersbach, over the 2006 World Cup
Affair. In his statement, Niersbach argued that he had “no
knowledge whatsoever” about any “payments flows” and is now being confronted
with proceedings in which he was “never involved”. However, he is now forced to
draw the “political consequences” from the situation. His resignation occurred
against the backdrop of last week’s raid of the DFB’s Frankfurt headquarters
and the private homes Niersbach, his predecessor Theo Zwanziger and
long-standing DFB general secretary Horst R. Schmidt. The public prosecutor’s
office investigates a particularly
severe act of tax evasion linked to awarding the 2006 World
Cup. The 2006 German “summer fairy-tale” came under pressure in mid-October
2015, after the German magazine “Der Spiegel”
shocked Fußballdeutschland by
claiming that it had seen concrete evidence proving that a €6.7 million loan,
designated by the FIFA for a “cultural programme”, ended up on the account of
Adidas CEO Robert-Louis Dreyfuß. The magazine further argued that the money was
in fact a secret loan that was paid back to Dreyfuß. Allegedly, the loan was
kept off the books intentionally in order to be used as bribes to win the 2006
World Cup bid. The public prosecutor now suspects the DFB of failing to
register the payment in tax returns. German FA officials admit that the DFB
made a “mistake” but deny all allegations of vote buying. However, the current
investigations show that the issues at stakes remain far from clear, leaving
many questions regarding the awarding of the 2006 World Cup unanswered.
The present blog
post aims to shed a light on the matter by synthetizing what we do know about
the 2006 World Cup Affair and by highlighting the legal grounds on which the
German authorities investigate the tax evasion. More...
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.
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
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.
Luis Suarez did it again. The serial biter that
he is couldn’t refrain
its impulse to taste a bit of Chiellini’s shoulder (not really the freshest
meat around though). Notwithstanding his amazing theatrical skills and escaping
the sight of the referee, Suarez could not in the information age get away with
this unnoticed. Seconds after the incident, the almighty “social networks” were
already bruising with evidence, outrage and commentaries over Suarez’s misdeed.
Since then, many lawyers have weighed in (here,
on the potential legal consequences faced by Suarez. Yesterday FIFA’s
disciplinary committee decided to sanction him with a 4 months ban from any
football activity and a 9 International games ban. In turn, Suarez announced that
he would challenge the decision,
and plans on going to the Court of Arbitration for Sport if necessary. Let’s be the advocates of the cannibal!More...
In 2009, Sepp
Blatter expressed his concerns that half of the
players participating in the 2014 FIFA World Cup would be Brazilians naturalized
by other countries. The Official list of Players released a few weeks ago tends to prove him
However, some players have changed their eligibility in the past and will even be
playing against their own country of origin.
This post aims at explaining the key legal aspects in changes of national
affiliation and to discuss the regulations pertaining to the constitution of
national sides in general. More...
Our first report on the FIFA business dealt with FIFA’s revenues and highlighted
their impressive rise and progressive diversification. In parallel to this
growth of FIFA’s income, it is quite natural that its expenses have been
following a similar path (see Graph 1). However, as we will see FIFA makes it
sometimes very difficult to identify precisely where the money is going. Nonetheless,
this is precisely what we wish to tackle in this post, and to do so we
will rely on the FIFA Financial reports over the last 10 years.
Graph 1: FIFA Expenses in USD million (adjusted for inflation),