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

12th round of Caster Semenya’s legal fight: too close to call? - By Jeremy Abel

Editor's note: Jeremy Abel is a recent graduate of the LL.M in International Business Law and Sports of the University of Lausanne.


1.     Introduction

The famous South African athlete Caster Semenya is in the last lap of her long legal battle for her right to run without changing the natural testosterone in her body. After losing her cases before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and the Swiss Federal Tribunal, she filed an application before the European Court of Human Rights (Court). In the meantime, the Court has released a summary of her complaint and a series of questions addressed to the parties of the case.

As is well known, she is challenging the World Athletics’ Eligibility Regulations for the Female Classification (Regulations) defining the conditions under which female and intersex athletes with certain types of differences of sex development (DSDs) can compete in international athletics events. Despite the Regulations emanating from World Athletics, the last round of her legal battle is against a new opponent: Switzerland.

The purpose of this article is to revisit the Semenya case from a European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) perspective while considering certain excellent points made by previous contributors (see here, here and here) to this blog. Therefore, the blog will follow the basic structure of an ECHR case. The following issues raised by Semenya shall be analysed: the applicability of the ECHR, Semenya’s right to private life (Article 8 ECHR) and to non discrimination (Article 14 ECHR), as well as the proportionality of the Regulations. More...

[Conference] Towards a European Social Charter for Sport Events - 1 December - 13:00-17:00 - Asser Institute

Sport events, especially when they are of a global scale, have been facing more and more questions about their impact on local communities, the environment, and human rights. 

It has become clear that their social legitimacy is not a given, but must be earned by showing that sport events can positively contribute to society. During this half-day conference, we will debate the proposal of a European Social Charter for Sport Events in order to achieve this goal. 

In January 2021, a consortium of eight partners launched a three-year project, supported by the European Commission under the Erasmus+ scheme, aimed at devising a European Social Charter for Sport Events (ESCSE). The project ambitions to develop a Charter which will contribute to ensuring that sport events taking place in the European Union are socially beneficial to the local communities concerned and, more generally, to those affected by them. The project is directly inspired by the decision of the Paris 2024 bid to commit to a social charter enforced throughout the preparation and the course of the 2024 Olympics.

This first public event in the framework of the ESCSE project, will be introducing the project to a wider public. During the event we will review the current state of the implementation of the Paris 2024 Social Charter, discuss the expectations of stakeholders and academics for a European Social Charter and present for feedback the first draft of the ESCSE (and its implementing guidelines) developed by the project members. It will be a participatory event; we welcome input from the participants.

The Asser International Sports Law Centre, powered by the Asser Institute, is contributing to the project through the drafting of a background study, which we will introduce during the conference.

Please note that we can provide some financial support (up to 100 euros)  towards travel and/or accommodation costs for a limited number of participants coming from other EU Member States or the UK. To apply for this financial support please reach out to  `

Register HERE



New Event! Diversity at the Court of Arbitration for Sport: Time for a Changing of the Guard? - Zoom In Webinar - 14 October - 4pm

On Thursday 14 October 2021 from 16.00-17.30 CET, the Asser International Sports Law Centre, in collaboration with Dr Marjolaine Viret (University of Lausanne), will be launching the second season of the Zoom-In webinar series, with a first episode on Diversity at the Court of Arbitration for Sport: Time for a Changing of the Guard?

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) is a well-known mainstay of global sport. It has the exclusive competence over challenges against decisions taken by most international sports governing bodies and its jurisprudence covers a wide range of issues (doping, corruption, match-fixing, financial fair play, transfer or selection disputes) including disciplinary sanctions and governance disputes. In recent years, the CAS has rendered numerous awards which triggered world-wide public interest, such as in the Semenya v World Athletics case or the case between WADA and RUSADA resulting from the Russian doping scandal (we discussed both cases in previous Zoom-In discussion available here and here). In short, the CAS has tremendous influence on the shape of global sport and its governance.

However, as we will discuss during this webinar, recent work has shown that the arbitrators active at the CAS are hardly reflective of the diversity of people its decisions ultimately affect. This in our view warrants raising the question of the (urgent) need to change the (arbitral) guard at the CAS. To address these issues with us, we have invited two speakers who have played an instrumental role in putting numbers on impressions widely shared by those in contact with the CAS: Prof. Johan Lindholm (Umea University) and attorney-at-law Lisa Lazarus (Morgan Sports Law). Johan recently published a ground-breaking monograph on The Court of Arbitration for Sport and Its Jurisprudence in which he applies empirical and quantitative methods to analyse the work of the CAS. This included studying the sociological characteristics of CAS arbitrators. Lisa and her colleagues at Morgan Sports Law very recently released a blog post on Arbitrator Diversity at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which reveals a stunning lack of diversity (based on their calculations, 4,5% of appointed CAS arbitrators are female and 0,2% are black) at the institution ruling over global sport.

Guest speakers:


Register for free HERE.

Zoom In webinar series

In December 2020, The Asser International Sports Law Centre in collaboration with Dr Marjolaine Viret launched a new series of zoom webinars on transnational sports law: Zoom In. You can watch the video recordings of our past Zoom In webinars on the Asser Institute’s Youtube Channel.

Investment in Football as a Means to a Particular End – Part 2: The Multiple Layers of Multi-Club Ownership Regulation in Football - By Rhys Lenarduzzi

Editor's note: Rhys was an intern at the T.M.C. Asser Institute. He now advises on investments and Notre acquisitions in sport (mainly football) via Lovelle Street Advisory. Following a career as a professional athlete, Rhys has spent much of his professional life as an international sports agent, predominantly operating in football. Rhys has a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) and a Bachelor of Philosophy (B.Phil.) from the University of Dame, Sydney, Australia. He is currently completing an LL.M at the University of Zurich in International Business Law / International Sports Law.

Having looked at the different types of investors in football in part one of this two-part blog series, “A non-exhaustive Typology”, it is fitting to now consider the regulations that apply to investors who seek to build a portfolio of football clubs.

One way to measure the momentum of a particular practice and how serious it ought to be taken, might be when that practice earns its own initialism. Multi-club ownership or MCO as it is increasingly known today, is the name given to those entities that have an ownership stake in multiple clubs. Within the little research and writing that has been undertaken on the topic, some authors submit that investors with minority stakes in multiple clubs ought not to be captured by the MCO definition.  This position appears problematic given some of the regulations draw the line at influence rather than stake.

There are now approximately 50 MCO’s across the football world that own approximately 150 clubs.[1] Given the way MCO is trending, one might consider it important that the regulations keep up with the developing MCO practice, so as to ensure the integrity of football competitions, and to regulate any other potentially questionable benefit an MCO might derive that would be contrary to football’s best interests.

In this blog, I focus on the variety of ways (and levels at which) this practice is being regulated.  I will move through the football pyramid from member associations (MA’s) to FIFA, laying the foundations to support a proposition that FIFA and only FIFA is positioned to regulate MCO. More...

New Event! Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter and the Right to Free Speech of Athletes - Zoom In Webinar - 14 July - 16:00 (CET)

On Wednesday 14 July 2021 from 16.00-17.30 CET, the Asser International Sports Law Centre, in collaboration with Dr Marjolaine Viret, is organizing a Zoom In webinar on Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter and the right to free speech of athletes.

As the Tokyo Olympics are drawing closer, the International Olympic Committee just released new Guidelines on the implementation of Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter. The latter Rule provides that ‘no kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas’. The latest IOC Guidelines did open up some space for athletes to express their political views, but at the same time continue to ban any manifestation from the Olympic Village or the Podium. In effect, Rule 50 imposes private restrictions on the freedom of expression of athletes in the name of the political neutrality of international sport. This limitation on the rights of athletes is far from uncontroversial and raises intricate questions regarding its legitimacy, proportionality and ultimately compatibility with human rights standards (such as with Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights).

This webinar aims at critically engaging with Rule 50 and its compatibility with the fundamental rights of athletes. We will discuss the content of the latest IOC Guidelines regarding Rule 50, the potential justifications for such a Rule, and the alternatives to its restrictions. To do so, we will be joined by three speakers, Professor Mark James from Manchester Metropolitan University, who has widely published on the Olympic Games and transnational law; Chui Ling Goh, a Doctoral Researcher at Melbourne Law School, who has recently released an (open access) draft of an article on Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter; and David Grevemberg, Chief Innovation and Partnerships Officer at the Centre for Sport and Human Rights, and former Chief Executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF). 

Guest speakers:

  • Prof. Mark James (Metropolitan Manchester University)
  • Chui Ling Goh (PhD candidate, University of Melbourne)
  • David Grevemberg (Centre for Sport and Human Rights)


Free Registration HERE

Investment in Football as a Means to a Particular End – Part 1: A non-exhaustive Typology - By Rhys Lenarduzzi

Editor's note: Rhys is currently making research and writing contributions under Dr Antoine Duval at the T.M.C. Asser Institute with a focus on Transnational Sports Law. Additionally, Rhys is the ‘Head of Advisory’ of Athlon CIF, a global fund and capital advisory firm specialising in the investment in global sports organisations and sports assets.

Rhys has a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) and Bachelor of Philosophy (B.Phil.) from the University of Notre Dame, Sydney, Australia. Rhys is an LL.M candidate at the University of Zurich, in International Sports Law. Following a career as a professional athlete, Rhys has spent much of his professional life as an international sports agent, predominantly operating in football.

Rhys is also the host of the podcast “Sportonomic”.


In the following two-part blog series, I will start by outlining a short typology of investors in football in recent years, in order to show the emergence of different varieties of investors who seek to use football as a means to a particular end. I will then in a second blog, explore the regulatory landscape across different countries, with a particular focus on the regulatory approach to multi-club ownership. Before moving forward, I must offer a disclaimer of sorts.  In addition to my research and writing contributions with the Asser Institute, I am the ‘Head of Advisory’ for Athlon CIF, a global fund and capital advisory firm specialising in the investment in global sports organisations and sports assets. I appreciate and hence must flag that I will possess a bias when it comes to investment in football.

It might also be noteworthy to point out that this new wave of investment in sport, is not exclusive to football. I have recently written elsewhere about CVC Capital Partners’ US$300 million investment in Volleyball, and perhaps the message that lingers behind such a deal.  CVC has also shown an interest in rugby and recently acquired a 14.3 per cent stake in the ‘Six Nations Championship’, to the tune of £365 million.  New Zealand’s 26 provincial rugby unions recently voted unanimously in favour of a proposal to sell 12.5 per cent of NZ Rugby’s commercial rights to Silver Lake Partners for NZ$387.5 million.  Consider also the apparent partnership between star footballer’s investment group, Gerard Pique’s Kosmos, and the International Tennis Federation.  Kosmos is further backed by Hiroshi Mikitani’s ecommerce institution, Rakuten, and all involved claim to desire an overhaul of the Davis Cup that will apparently transform it into the ‘World Cup of Tennis’. Grassroots projects, prizemoney for tennis players and extra funding for member nations are other areas the partnership claims to be concerned with. As is the case with all investment plays of this flavour, one can be certain that a return on the capital injection is also of interest.

So, what are we to conclude from the trends of investment in sport and more specifically for this blog series, in football? A typology elucidates that a multiplicity of investors have in recent years identified football as a means to achieve different ends. This blog considers three particular objectives pursued; direct financial return, branding in the case of company investment, or the branding and soft power strategies of nations.More...

WISLaw Blog Symposium - Rule 40 of the Olympic Charter: the wind of changes or a new commercial race - By Rusa Agafonova

Editor's note: Rusa Agafonova is a PhD Candidate at the University of Zurich, Switzerland   

The Olympic Games are the cornerstone event of the Olympic Movement as a socio-cultural phenomenon as well as the engine of its economic model. Having worldwide exposure,[1] the Olympic Games guarantee the International Olympic Committee (IOC) exclusive nine-digit sponsorship deals. The revenue generated by the Games is later redistributed by the IOC down the sports pyramid to the International Federations (IFs), National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and other participants of the Olympic Movement through a so-called "solidarity mechanism". In other words, the Games constitute a vital source of financing for the Olympic Movement.

Because of the money involved, the IOC is protective when it comes to staging the Olympics. This is notably so with respect to ambush marketing which can have detrimental economic impact for sports governing bodies (SGBs) running mega-events. The IOC's definition of ambush marketing covers any intentional and non-intentional use of intellectual property associated with the Olympic Games as well as the misappropriation of images associated with them without authorisation from the IOC and the organising committee.[2] This definition is broad as are the IOC's anti-ambush rules.More...

WISLaw Blog Symposium - Freedom of Expression in Article 10 of the ECHR and Rule 50 of the IOC Charter: Are these polar opposites? - By Nuray Ekşi

Editor's note: Prof. Dr. Ekşi is a full-time lecturer and chair of Department of Private International Law at Özyeğin University Faculty of Law. Prof. Ekşi is the founder and also editor in chief of the Istanbul Journal of Sports Law which has been in publication since 2019.

While Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (‘ECHR’) secures the right to freedom of expression, Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter of 17 July 2020 (‘Olympic Charter’) restricts this freedom. Following the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights (‘ECtHR’) relating to sports, national and international sports federations have incorporated human rights-related provisions into their statutes and regulations. They also emphasized respect for human rights. For example, Article 3 of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (‘FIFA’) Statutes, September 2020 edition, provides that “FIFA is committed to respecting all internationally recognised human rights and shall strive to promote the protection of these rights”. Likewise, the Fundamental Principles of Olympism which are listed after the Preamble of the of the Olympic Charter 2020 also contains human rights related provisions. Paragraph 4 of Fundamental Principles of Olympism provides that the practice of sport is a human right. Paragraph 6 forbids discrimination of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. In addition, the International Olympic Committee (‘IOC’) inserted human rights obligations in the 2024 and 2028 Host City Contract.[1] The IOC Athletes’ Rights and Responsibilities Declaration even goes further and aspires to promote the ability and opportunity of athletes to practise sport and compete without being subject to discrimination. Fair and equal gender representation, privacy including protection of personal information, freedom of expression, due process including the right to a fair hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial panel, the right to request a public hearing and the right to an effective remedy are the other human rights and principles stated in the IOC Athletes’ Rights and Responsibilities Declaration. Despite sports federations’ clear commitment to the protection of human rights, it is arguable that their statutes and regulations contain restrictions on athletes and sports governing bodies exercising their human rights during competitions or in the field. In this regard, particular attention should be given to the right to freedom of expression on which certain restrictions are imposed by the federations even if it done with good intentions and with the aim of raising awareness. More...

Asser International Sports Law Blog | FIFA's Responsibility for Human Rights Abuses in Qatar – Part II: The Zurich Court's Ruling - By Tomáš Grell

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 Responsibility for Human Rights Abuses in Qatar – Part II: The Zurich Court's Ruling - By Tomáš Grell

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.

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 2017 ('Ruling').[1] 

Before embarking on a substantive analysis of the Ruling, it is worth recalling the Plaintiffs' claims. First, the Plaintiffs requested the Court to order FIFA to redress the ongoing human rights violations by pressing the responsible Qatari authorities to abolish the controversial kafala system and ensure that human rights and fundamental freedoms of migrant workers are preserved ('Claim 1'). Alternatively, they asked the Court merely to declare the unlawfulness of those human rights violations ('Claim 2'). As regards the monetary compensation, the Bangladeshi worker Nadim Shariful Alam sought damages of USD 4,000 and a satisfaction amounting to CHF 30,000 ('Claim 3').[2] The present blog attempts to provide a clear overview of the basis on which the Court rejected the Plaintiffs' claims and to draw a few concluding remarks therefrom.

The Court's reasoning 

The Court considers at the outset of the Ruling that the case at hand immediately proves to be ripe for a decision.[3] Therefore, FIFA had not been invited by the Court to express its views before the Ruling was issued. Pursuant to the Swiss Code of Civil Procedure ('ZPO'), a court shall verify ex officio the fulfilment of the relevant procedural requirements[4], including but not limited to unambiguity of claims[5] and jurisdiction ratione materiae.[6] The following subsections of this blog will take a brief look at how the Court appraised these two procedural requirements.

Unambiguity of the Plaintiffs' claims 

Should a certain claim be considered unambiguous in line with Swiss rules on civil procedure, it needs to be enforceable[7] and sufficiently specified.[8] In respect of Claim 1 (i.e. to oblige FIFA to press the competent Qatari authorities), the Court states that such claim would not be enforceable, since ''anyone who merely exerts pressure on something does not redress any susceptible ills.''[9] The Court is firmly convinced that only the sovereign State of Qatar is empowered to bring about a direct change in the country's human rights situation. In addition, the Court finds Claim 1 to be vague, because it does not specify the Qatari authorities to which FIFA should turn in order to ameliorate the humanitarian conditions for World Cup-related migrant workers.[10]

In respect of Claim 2 (i.e. to declare the illegality of the respective human rights violations), the Court is of the opinion that it does not meet the requirement of being sufficiently specified either. In particular, the Court argues that the Plaintiffs did not precisely identify what part of FIFA's conduct should be declared unlawful. According to the Court's line of reasoning, if Claim 2 were to be admitted, this would essentially make it impossible for FIFA to defend itself.[11] 

Jurisdiction ratione materiae     

Based on the above, the Court considers Claims 1 and 2 inadmissible on account of their ambiguity and does not analyse whether it may exercise jurisdiction ratione materiae over these claims. Nevertheless, in obiter dicta comments, it indicates that Claim 1 is more likely to fall within the ambit of public law.[12] More importantly, the Court does not rule out that a decision requiring a private association (i.e. FIFA) to interfere in domestic affairs of a sovereign State (i.e. Qatar) could be potentially deemed unlawful[13], and that such a decision would consequently negate the Plaintiffs' legitimate interest.[14]

Given that Claim 3 (i.e. Mr. Alam's request for monetary compensation) is clearly unequivocal, the Court proceeds to determine whether it has subject-matter jurisdiction to entertain such claim. The Commercial Courts in Switzerland are endowed with jurisdiction ratione materiae, insofar as a commercial dispute within the meaning of Article 6 (2) ZPO is concerned. A dispute is classified as commercial in accordance with the said provision, if both parties are registered with the Swiss Commercial Registry or an equivalent foreign registry and at least one of them exercises a commercial activity. Article 6 (3) ZPO further clarifies that in a situation where only the defendant is registered with the Swiss Commercial Registry or an equivalent foreign registry, the claimant is free to choose between the Commercial Court and the ordinary court.

Applied to the case at hand, Mr. Alam relies on Article 6 (3) ZPO, since he does not raise Claim 3 as a tradesman registered either with the Swiss Commercial Registry or an equivalent foreign (Bangladeshi) registry.[15] In this regard, the Court also notes that Mr. Alam is not engaged in any kind of commercial activity.[16] Perhaps surprisingly, the question of whether FIFA exercises a commercial activity in terms of Article 6 (2) (a) ZPO turns out to be less straightforward. Although FIFA generally conducts significant commercial activities, the Court underlines that ''the exercising of an alleged power to influence the political system and legal order of a foreign State and/or the neglect of such influence cannot – even interpreting the term broadly – be regarded as a commercial activity.''[17] Consequently, the Court concludes that, in the absence of a commercial dispute between Mr. Alam and FIFA, it is precluded from adjudicating on Claim 3.[18]

It follows from the above that the Court draws a rigid demarcation line between what it considers as being FIFA's commercial activities and its policy influence vis-à-vis World Cup-hosts. However, in practice, a large share of FIFA's revenue comes from FIFA-organized football tournaments, the most prominent being by far the FIFA World Cup. FIFA's Financial and Governance Report 2015 indicated that, insofar as the financial year 2015 is concerned, event-related revenue amounted to 85 % of FIFA's aggregate revenue (USD 973 million out of USD 1,152 million).[19] Especially the sale of broadcasting rights for the FIFA World Cup constitutes an irreplaceable source of FIFA's funding. Moreover, the practice shows also that FIFA is used to compel World Cup-hosts to modify their domestic laws for the benefit of tournament's sponsors, a textbook example thereof being the well-known 'Budweiser Law' which has already been discussed in the first part of this blog. Hence, it seems that FIFA's commercial activities and its policy influence vis-à-vis World Cup-hosts are much more intertwined in reality than envisaged by the Court.   

A way forward

Based on the aforementioned reasons, the Court dismissed the Plaintiffs' lawsuit in its entirety. The Plaintiffs were entitled to challenge the Ruling before the Swiss Federal Court within 30 days of its delivery.[20] For the time being, it remains unclear to us whether the Plaintiffs availed themselves of the right to appeal the Ruling or not.

It should be emphasized that the Ruling in question does not imply that FIFA generally cannot be held accountable for human rights abuses linked to the World Cup in Qatar. The Court rejected the Plaintiffs' claims on grounds of inadmissibility and lack of jurisdiction, without pronouncing itself on the merits of the case. In particular, the Court points out that the Plaintiffs' claims, as they were formulated, would not be enforceable, because FIFA is allegedly not in a position to force Qatar to amend the widely criticised labour laws.[21] That being said, the Court arguably turns a blind eye to the ever-increasing power of non-State actors in contemporary international relations.

Following the Court's line of reasoning, the only feasible way for World Cup-related migrant workers (and trade unions acting on their behalf) to pursue effective legal redress in Switzerland is to claim damages based solely on the illegality of FIFA's decision to select Qatar as World Cup-host. An affirmative response given by the Court to such claim would undoubtedly encourage hundreds of other migrant workers currently residing in Qatar to follow the same path. Nonetheless, absent an explicit legal obligation on the part of FIFA to press the relevant Qatari authorities, it remains questionable how much impact such a decision would have on the overall human rights situation in Qatar and on those migrant workers coming to the Gulf country in the future.

Further implications for transnational corporations

From a broader perspective, this case represents an example of a transnational private actor (i.e. FIFA) being sued in a State of its domicile (i.e. Switzerland) for damages resulting from human rights abuses which occurred in another country (i.e. Qatar). Taking into account FIFA's global operation and large-scale commercial activities, an analogy between FIFA and transnational corporations can be reasonably drawn.

The underlying purpose of suing a transnational entity in a State of its domicile is to evade judicial proceedings in developing countries which might prove to be largely inefficient.[22] In the United Kingdom, a group of Nigerian plaintiffs has recently sued Royal Dutch Shell plc ('RDS'), an Anglo-Dutch multinational oil company, and its Nigerian operating subsidiary Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd ('SPDC'), for damages resulting from a severe pollution allegedly caused by the SPDC (and to a certain extent also the RDS) on Nigerian soil. On 26 January 2017, Mr. Justice Fraser, sitting as a Judge in the London High Court, dismissed the lawsuit in question on jurisdictional grounds.[23] Amnesty International has subsequently denounced the judgment by stating that it ''gives green light for corporations to profit from abuses overseas.'' However, less than a year ago, Mr. Justice Coulson, sitting as a Judge in the same court, decided to grant a forum for claims brought by Zambian citizens in relation to a massive water contamination in Zambia arising out of activities performed by Vedanta Resources plc ('Vedanta'), a global mining company with its headquarters in London, and its Zambian operating subsidiary Konkola Copper Mines plc.[24] Mr. Justice Coulson concluded that ''the claimants would almost certainly not get access to justice if these claims were pursued in Zambia.''[25] It has been suggested that Mr. Justice Coulson allowed the case to proceed in British courts particularly due to a substantial involvement of the parent company Vedanta with its Zambian subsidiary, as opposed to more independent regime established between the RDS and its Nigerian subsidiary SPDC. A decision on the merits is still pending.

The two cases referred to above demonstrate that extra-territorial human rights violations are usually triggered by a direct action of a foreign-incorporated subsidiary. Yet, FIFA's case differs in that the respective human rights violations emanate rather from a direct (in)action of a sovereign State - Qatar's unwillingness or inability to set aside its controversial labour laws. Alternatively, it could be argued that, by reason of its decision to award the World Cup to the Gulf country, FIFA is complicit in human rights violations triggered by Qatar's (in)action. That being said, is the difference between FIFA's case and the two cases mentioned above really substantial? In practice, is not the relationship between FIFA and Qatar akin to that of Vedanta and its Zambian subsidiary, with a high degree of direct involvement by FIFA? Be that as it may, the importance of the Ruling with respect to transnational corporations registered both in and outside Switzerland cannot be underestimated.

[1]      Ruling of the Commercial Court of the Canton of Zurich, HG160261-O, 3 January 2017. Parts of the Ruling which are quoted in this blog were translated from German by Prof. Liesbeth Zegveld (her team), who provided us with the English version of the Ruling.

[2]      Ibid., p. 2-3

[3]      Ibid., p. 4

[4]      See Art. 60 ZPO

[5]      Ruling of the Swiss Federal Supreme Court, BGE 137 III 617 E. 4.3

[6]      See Art. 59 (2) (b) ZPO

[7]      Ruling of the Swiss Federal Supreme Court, BGE 97 II 92

[8]      Supra note 6

[9]      Supra note 2, p. 6

[10]    Ibid., p. 7

[11]    Ibid., p. 8

[12]    Ibid., p. 9

[13]    Ibid.

[14]    According to Art. 59 (2) (a) ZPO, one of the preconditions for considering a civil lawsuit is the existence of plaintiff's legitimate interest

[15]    Supra note 2, p. 10

[16]    Ibid., p. 11

[17]    Ibid., p. 15

[18]    Ibid.

[19]    FIFA's Financial and Governance Report 2015, p. 17

[20]    Supra note 2, p. 18

[21]    Ibid., p. 6

[22]    E. Brabandere, 'Human Rights and Transnational Corporations: The Limits of Direct Corporate Responsibility', (2010) 4 (1) Human Rights and International Legal Discourse 66, at 76

[23]    Judgment rendered by Mr. Justice Fraser in the High Court of Justice, Queen's Bench Division, Technology and Construction Court, 2017 EWHC 89 (TCC), 26 January 2017

[24]    Judgment rendered by Mr. Justice Coulson in the High Court of Justice, Queen's Bench Division, Technology and Construction Court, 2016 EWHC 975 (TCC), 27 May 2016

[25]    Ibid., para. 198

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