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The Asser International Sports Law Centre is part of the T.M.C. Asser Instituut

Book Review: Reforming FIFA, or Not

Editor’s note: This short book review will be published in a different format in the International Sports Law Journal, due to its timeliness we decided to reproduce it here. 

Reforming FIFA, or Not

 Antoine Duval

Book Review: Mark Pieth (ed.), Reforming FIFA, Dike Verlag, St. Gallen, 2014, 28.00 CHF, p.178

 


This book looks back at the work of the Independence Governance Committee (IGC). This Committee, constituted in 2011, had as primary objective to drive a reform process of FIFA initiated by its President Sepp Blatter. After ordering from the Swiss anti-corruption expert Mark Pieth, a report on the state of FIFA’s governance, FIFA decided to mandate him with the leadership of a consulting body composed of a mix of independent experts and football insiders, which would be accompanying and supervising the internal reform process of FIFA. The IGC was officially dissolved at the end of 2013, after completing its mandate. The book is composed of eight chapters, written by former members of the IGC, including former chairman Mark Pieth. In addition to the chapters, it includes the different reports (available here, here and here) submitted by the IGC to FIFA across the years. In the words of Pieth, this account is “fascinating because it gives a hands-on, realistic perspective of the concrete efforts, the achievements and the remaining challenges in the struggle for the reform of this organization [FIFA], avoiding the usual glorification or vilification.”[1] This review will first summarize the core of the account of the FIFA reform process provided by the book, before critically engaging with the outcome of the process and outlining the deficiencies that culminated on 29 May 2015 with the re-election of Sepp Blatter as FIFA president.More...



The Spanish TV Rights Distribution System after the Royal Decree: An Introduction. By Luis Torres

On the first of May 2015, the Spanish Government finally signed the Royal Decree allowing the joint selling of the media rights of the Spanish top two football leagues. The Minister for Sport stated that the Decree will allow clubs to “pay their debts with the social security and the tax authorities and will enable the Spanish teams to compete with the biggest European Leagues in terms of revenues from the sale of media rights”.[1]Although the signing of the Royal Decree was supposed to close a very long debate and discussion between the relevant stakeholders, its aftermath shows that the Telenovela is not entirely over. 

This blog post will first provide the background story to the selling of media rights in Spain. It will, thereafter, analyse the main points of the Royal Decree and outline how the system will work in practice. Finally, the blog will shortly address the current frictions between the Spanish League (LFP) and the Spanish football federation (RFEF).More...

Sport and EU Competition Law: New developments and unfinished business. By Ben Van Rompuy

Editor's note: Ben Van Rompuy, Head of the ASSER International Sports Law Centre, was recently interviewed by LexisNexis UK for their in-house adviser service. With kind permission from LexisNexis we reproduce the interview on our blog in its entirety. 

How does competition law affect the sports sector?  

The application of EU competition law to the sports sector is a fairly recent and still unfolding development. It was only in the mid-1990s, due to the growing commercialization of professional sport, that there emerged a need to address competition issues in relation to, for instance, ticketing arrangements or the sale of media rights.  More...



Is FIFA fixing the prices of intermediaries? An EU competition law analysis - By Georgi Antonov (ASSER Institute)

Introduction

On 1 April 2015, the new FIFA Regulations on Working with Intermediaries (hereinafter referred as the Regulations) came into force. These Regulations introduced a number of changes as regards the division of competences between FIFA and its members, the national associations. A particularly interesting issue from an EU competition law perspective is the amended Article 7 of the Regulations. Under paragraph 3, which regulates the rules on payments to intermediaries (also previously referred to as ‘agents’), it is recommended that the total amount of remuneration per transaction due to intermediaries either being engaged to act on a player’s or club’s behalf should not exceed 3% of the player’s basic gross income for the entire duration of the relevant employment contract. In the case of transactions due to intermediaries who have been engaged to act on a club’s behalf in order to conclude a transfer agreement, the total amount of remuneration is recommended to not exceed 3% of the eventual transfer fee paid in relation to the relevant transfer of the player.More...

The Impact of the new FIFA Regulations for Intermediaries: A comparative analysis of Brazil, Spain and England. By Luis Torres

INTRODUCTION

Almost a year after their announcement, the new FIFA Regulations on working with Intermediaries (“FIFA Regulations”) came into force on 1 April 2015. Their purpose is to create a more simple and transparent system of regulation of football agents. It should be noted, however, that the new FIFA rules enable every national football association to regulate their own system on players’ intermediaries, provided they respect the compulsory minimum requirements adopted. In an industry that is already cutthroat, it thus remains to be seen whether FIFA’s “deregulation” indeed creates transparency, or whether it is a Pandora’s Box to future regulatory confusion.

This blog post will provide an overview of the new FIFA Regulations on working with intermediaries and especially its minimum requirements. Provided that national associations are encouraged to “draw up regulations that shall incorporate the principles established in these provisions”[1], three different national regulations have been taken as case-studies: the English FA Regulations, the Spanish RFEF Regulations and the Brazilian CBF Regulations. After mapping their main points of convergence and principal differences, the issues that could arise from these regulatory differences shall be analyzed.  More...

Blog Symposium: Why FIFA's TPO ban is justified. By Prof. Dr. Christian Duve

Introduction: FIFA’s TPO ban and its compatibility with EU competition law.
Day 1: FIFA must regulate TPO, not ban it.
Day 2: Third-party entitlement to shares of transfer fees: problems and solutions
Day 3: The Impact of the TPO Ban on South American Football.
Day 4: Third Party Investment from a UK Perspective. 

Editor’s note: Finally, the last blog of our TPO ban Symposium has arrived! Due to unforeseen circumstances, FIFA had to reconsider presenting its own views on the matter. However, FIFA advised us to contact Prof. Dr. Christian Duve to author the eagerly awaited blog on their behalf. Prof. Dr. Christian Duve is a lawyer and partner with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP and an honorary professor at the University of Heidelberg. He has been a CAS arbitrator until 2014. Thus, as planned, we will conclude this symposium with a post defending the compatibility of the TPO ban with EU law. Many thanks to Prof. Dr. Duve for having accepted this last-minute challenge! More...






Blog Symposium: Third Party Investment from a UK Perspective. By Daniel Geey

Introduction: FIFA’s TPO ban and its compatibility with EU competition law.
Day 1: FIFA must regulate TPO, not ban it.
Day 2: Third-party entitlement to shares of transfer fees: problems and solutions
Day 3: The Impact of the TPO Ban on South American Football.
Day 5: Why FIFA's TPO ban is justified.

Editor's note: In this fourth part of our blog symposium on FIFA's TPO ban Daniel Geey shares his 'UK perspective' on the ban. The English Premier League being one of the first leagues to have outlawed TPO in 2010, Daniel will outline the regulatory steps taken to do so and critically assess them. Daniel is an associate in Field Fisher Waterhouse LLP's Competition and EU Regulatory Law Group. As well as being a famous 'football law' twitterer, he has also published numerous articles and blogs on the subject.

 

What is Third Party Investment?
In brief Third Party Investment (TPI) in the football industry, is where a football club does not own, or is not entitled to, 100% of the future transfer value of a player that is registered to play for that team. There are numerous models for third party player agreements but the basic premise is that companies, businesses and/or individuals provide football clubs or players with money in return for owning a percentage of a player’s future transfer value. This transfer value is also commonly referred to as a player’s economic rights. There are instances where entities will act as speculators by purchasing a percentage share in a player directly from a club in return for a lump sum that the club can then use as it wishes. More...





Blog Symposium: The Impact of the TPO Ban on South American Football. By Ariel N. Reck

Introduction: FIFA’s TPO ban and its compatibility with EU competition law.
Day 1: FIFA must regulate TPO, not ban it.
Day 2: Third-party entitlement to shares of transfer fees: problems and solutions
Day 4: Third Party Investment from a UK Perspective.
Day 5: Why FIFA's TPO ban is justified.

Editor’s note: Ariel N. Reck is an Argentine lawyer specialized in the football industry. He is a guest professor at ISDE’s Global Executive Master in International Sports Law, at the FIFA CIES Sports law & Management course (Universidad Católica Argentina) and the Universidad Austral Sports Law diploma (Argentina) among other prestigious courses. He is a regular conference speaker and author in the field of sports law.

Being an Argentine lawyer, Ariel will focus on the impact FIFA’s TPO ban will have (and is already having) on South American football.More...





Blog Symposium: Third-party entitlement to shares of transfer fees: problems and solutions - By Dr. Raffaele Poli (Head of CIES Football Observatory)

Introduction: FIFA’s TPO ban and its compatibility with EU competition law.
Day 1: FIFA must regulate TPO, not ban it.
Day 3: The Impact of the TPO Ban on South American Football.
Day 4: Third Party Investment from a UK Perspective.
Day 5: Why FIFA's TPO ban is justified.

Editor’s note: Raffaele Poli is a human geographer. Since 2002, he has studied the labour and transfer markets of football players. Within the context of his PhD thesis on the transfer networks of African footballers, he set up the CIES Football Observatory based at the International Centre for Sports Studies (CIES) located in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. Since 2005, this research group develops original research in the area of football from a multidisciplinary perspective combining quantitative and qualitative methods. Raffaele was also involved in a recent study on TPO providing FIFA with more background information on its functioning and regulation (the executive summary is available here).

This is the third blog of our Symposium on FIFA’s TPO ban, it is meant to provide an interdisciplinary view on the question. Therefore, it will venture beyond the purely legal aspects of the ban to introduce its social, political and economical context and the related challenges it faces. More...






Blog Symposium: FIFA must regulate TPO, not ban it. The point of view of La Liga.

Introduction: FIFA’s TPO ban and its compatibility with EU competition law.
Day 2: Third-party entitlement to shares of transfer fees: problems and solutions
Day 3: The Impact of the TPO Ban on South American Football.
Day 4: Third Party Investment from a UK Perspective.
Day 5: Why FIFA's TPO ban is justified.

Editor's note: This is the first blog of our symposium on FIFA's TPO ban, it features the position of La Liga regarding the ban and especially highlights some alternative regulatory measures it would favour. La Liga has launched a complaint in front of the European Commission challenging the compatibility of the ban with EU law, its ability to show that realistic less restrictive alternatives were available is key to winning this challenge. We wish to thank La Liga for sharing its legal (and political) analysis of FIFA's TPO ban with us.

INTRODUCTION

The Spanish Football League (La Liga) has argued for months that the funding of clubs through the conveyance of part of players' economic rights (TPO) is a useful practice for clubs. However, it also recognized that the practice must be strictly regulated. In July 2014, it approved a provisional regulation that was sent to many of the relevant stakeholders, including FIFA’s Legal Affairs Department. More...






Asser International Sports Law Blog | International and European Sports Law – Monthly Report – February 2016

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

International and European Sports Law – Monthly Report – February 2016

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. 


The Headlines

The eagerly awaited FIFA Presidential elections of 26 February provided for a “new face” at the pinnacle of international football for the first time since 1998. One could argue whether Infantino is the man capable of bringing about the reform FIFA so desperately needs or whether he is simply a younger version of his predecessor Blatter. Both men are of course Swiss[1], and both were general secretaries of an international football governing body (UEFA and FIFA respectively) before becoming FIFA President. Only time will tell whether Infantino manages to cleanse FIFA from all the corruption and demonstrate that he is the right man for the job. In this regard, Infantino’s portrait by Sam Borden is definitely worth a read.

Though no FIFA official was lifted from his hotel bed by the police in the days before this FIFA Extraordinary Congress, the build-up was not entirely flawless. Two of the four Presidential Candidates, Prince Ali and Jérôme Champagne, turned to CAS prior to the elections with the aim of “incorporating transparent voting booths as well as independent scrutineers, in order to safeguard the integrity of the voting process and to ensure that the vote is conducted in secret. In addition, Prince Ali also asked for the FIFA Presidential Election to be postponed in the event the CAS could not rule on the request for provisional measures before the election.”[2] Unfortunately for the two candidates, on 24 February CAS rejected their requests (press releases are accessible here and here), promising that the “full order with grounds will be communicated in a few days”. Yet, the CAS website remained mute since then.

At that same Extraordinary FIFA Congress of 26 February, several reforms were also approved. The reforms include term limits for the FIFA President, FIFA Council members and members of the Audit and Compliance Committee and of the judicial bodies of max. 12 years, and the disclosure of individual compensation on an annual basis of the FIFA President, all FIFA Council members, the Secretary General and relevant chairpersons of independent standing and judicial committees. A summary of these reforms can be read here.

Another headline involving FIFA was the FIFA’s Appeal Committee’s decision to uphold the sanctions imposed on the Belgian club FC Seraing for infringing the rules on Third Party Ownership (TPO). The sanctions include a fine of CHF 150.000 and a complete transfer ban for four consecutive transfer windows starting in the summer of 2016. TPO (or FIFA’s decision to ban the practice) was once again making headlines in February, in large part thanks to the website of footballleaks (for more on the people behind this website, I recommend this interview published by Der Spiegel). On 1 February footballleaks published the Economic Rights Participation Agreement (ERPA) between Doyen Sport and the Spanish club Sevilla FC regarding the economic rights of the French football player Geoffrey Kondogbia. Another ERPA that was made accessible for the general public also involved Doyen and a Spanish club, namely Sporting de Gijón.

In addition to new agreement releases by footballleaks, the consequences of earlier releases were slowly being felt in February. For example, the release of the Gareth Bale transfer agreement between Tottenham Hotspur and Real Madrid on 20 January caused quite a few raised eyebrows throughout Europe. Most interestingly, three Members of the European Parliament officially asked the European Commission whether it is planning to “take action under its competition law and state aid responsibilities”, since one of the banks involved in the transfer agreement (Bankia) was previously saved by the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) with public money. The Commission’s answer to this question can be expected shortly.

As regards other issues involving EU law and sport, February was a relatively quiet month. The most interesting new development took place on 22 February with the Euroleague Basketball stating that it submitted a competition complaint before the European Commission against FIBA and FIBA Europe. In a nutshell, Euroleague Basketball is attacking the “unacceptable and illegal threats and pressures that FIBA and its member federations are making against clubs, players and referees to force them to abandon the Euroleague and the Eurocup and only participate in FIBA competitions”. The point of view of FIBA on this issue can be read here. It remains open whether the Commission decides to investigate the matter formally.

This same question can be asked about FIFPro’s complaint against the transfer system. FIFPro has decided to launch #GameChangers campaign to support the complaint and pressure the European Commission into opening an investigation. For an in-depth analysis of the issue, I recommend this piece by Nick de Marco and Alex Mills. 

A report listing the sportslaw headlines would be incomplete these days without references to all the doping related news. It is worth remembering that the two reports by the WADA Independent Commission into doping in international athletics[3] lead to the IAAF banning for life three of its senior officials.[4] This IAAF decision was appealed by the three officials in front of CAS on 1 February. The outcome of this appeal is currently still pending. The Russian Government, meanwhile, heavily criticised the two reports, holding that there is no evidence that it was involved in State-supported doping.  


Case law

The German Appeal Court in Rheinland-Pfalz reached a decision in the Müller case on 17 February.  Contrary to what the Labour Court of Mainz held in March 2015[5], the Appeal Court argued that football players are employed under a fixed-term contract. The judgment has not been made public (yet), so we do not know the full extent of the Appeal Court’s legal argumentation. Further appeal options were available to Müller, but it is unclear whether he exercised them.

On 4 February, another German Appeal Court (the OLG Frankfurt) rendered its decision in the Rogon case (we commented the first ruling on provisory measure in June) involving the German implementation of the new FIFA Regulations on Working with Intermediaries. Here again, the full text of the ruling is still missing and we can only elaborate on press reports (here and here). Yet, it seems that the Court has decided to partially uphold the new Regulations (especially the no-fee for minors provision), while it also stroke down some aspects of the new rules (especially the intermediary’s duty to register with the DFB). 


Official Documents and Press Releases


In the news

Athletics

Australian Football

Baseball

Cycling

Football

Speed skating – Pechstein

Tennis

Other


Academic materials



[1] In fact, Infantino grew up in the town of Brig, less than 10 km from Visp, Blatter’s home town.

[2] Media Release by the Court of Arbitration for Sport of 24 February 2016, “CAS rejects HRH Prince Ali Al Hussein’s request for urgent provisional measures”, http://www.tas-cas.org/fileadmin/user_upload/Media_Release_4459_decision.pdf accessed 23 March 2016.

[3] The Independent Commission Report #1 of 9 November 2015, https://wada-main-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/resources/files/wada_independent_commission_report_1_en.pdf accessed 24 March 2016; and The Independent Commission Report #2 of 14 January 2016, https://wada-main-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/resources/files/wada_independent_commission_report_2_2016_en_rev.pdf accessed 24 March 2016.

[4] I.e. Papa Massata Diack, Valentin Balakhnichev and Alexei Melnikov.

[5] For more information on the Müller case in first instance, read the blogs by Piotr Drabik: “Compatibility of Fixed-Term Contracts in Football with Directive 1999/70/EC. Part.1: The General Framework”, http://www.asser.nl/SportsLaw/Blog/post/part-1-compatibility-of-fixed-term-contracts-in-football-with-directive-1999-70-ec-the-general-framework-by-piotrek-drabik accessed 24 March 2016; and “Compatibility of fixed-term contracts in football with Directive 1999/70/EC. Part 2: The Heinz Müller case”, http://www.asser.nl/SportsLaw/Blog/post/compatibility-of-fixed-term-contracts-in-football-with-directive-1999-70-ec-part-2-the-heinz-muller-case-by-piotr-drabik accessed 24 March 2016.

[6] Prof. Ben Van Rompuy of the Asser Institute contributed tot his report with his piece “The role of the betting industry”, pages 236-241.

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