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

The CAS Ad Hoc Division in 2014: Business as usual? – Part.1: The Jurisdiction quandary

The year is coming to an end and it has been a relatively busy one for the CAS Ad Hoc divisions. Indeed, the Ad Hoc division was, as usual now since the Olympic Games in Atlanta in 1996[1], settling  “Olympic” disputes during the Winter Olympics in Sochi. However, it was also, and this is a novelty, present at the Asian Games 2014 in Incheon.  Both divisions have had to deal with seven (published) cases in total (four in Sochi and three in Incheon). The early commentaries available on the web (here, here and there), have been relatively unmoved by this year’s case law. Was it then simply ‘business as usual’, or is there more to learn from the 2014 Ad Hoc awards? Two different dimensions of the 2014 decisions by the Ad Hoc Division seem relevant to elaborate on : the jurisdiction quandary (part. 1) and the selection drama (part. 2). More...

Sports Politics before the CAS II: Where does the freedom of speech of a Karate Official ends? By Thalia Diathesopoulou

On 6 October 2014, the CAS upheld the appeal filed by the former General Secretary of the World Karate Federation (WKF), George Yerolimpos, against the 6 February 2014 decision of the WKF Appeal Tribunal. With the award, the CAS confirmed a six-months membership suspension imposed upon the Appellant by the WKF Disciplinary Tribunal.[1] At a first glance, the case at issue seems to be an ordinary challenge of a disciplinary sanction imposed by a sports governing body. Nevertheless, this appeal lies at the heart of a highly acrimonious political fight for the leadership of the WKF, featuring two former ‘comrades’:  Mr Yerolimpos and Mr Espinos (current president of WKF). As the CAS puts it very lucidly, "this is a story about a power struggle within an international sporting body"[2], a story reminding the Saturn devouring his son myth.

This case, therefore, brings the dirty laundry of sports politics to the fore. Interestingly enough, this time the CAS does not hesitate to grapple with the political dimension of the case. More...

The new “Arrangement” between the European Commission and UEFA: A political capitulation of the EU

Yesterday, the European Commission stunned the European Sports Law world when it announced unexpectedly that it had signed a “partnership agreement with UEFA named (creatively): ‘The Arrangement for Cooperation between the European Commission and the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA)’. The press release indicates that this agreement is to “commit the two institutions to working together regularly in a tangible and constructive way on matters of shared interest”. The agreement was negotiated (as far as we know) secretly with UEFA. Despite recent meetings between EU Commissioner for sport Vassiliou and UEFA President Platini, the eventuality of such an outcome was never evoked. It is very unlikely that third-interested-parties (FIFPro, ECA, Supporters Direct etc.) were consulted in the process of drafting this Arrangement. This surprising move by an outgoing Commission will be analysed in a three-ponged approach. First, we will discuss the substance of the Arrangement (I). Thereafter, we will consider its potential legal value under EU law (II). Finally, and maybe more importantly, we will confront the political relevance of the agreement (III).  More...

Sports Politics before the CAS: Early signs of a ‘constitutional’ role for CAS? By Thalia Diathesopoulou

It took almost six months, a record of 26 witnesses and a 68 pages final award for the CAS to put an end to a long-delayed, continuously acrimonious and highly controversial presidential election for the Football Association of Thailand (FAT). Worawi Makudi can sit easy and safe on the throne of the FAT for his fourth consecutive term, since the CAS has dismissed the appeal filed by the other contender, Virach Chanpanich.[1]

Interestingly enough, it is one of the rare times that the CAS Appeal Division has been called to adjudicate on the fairness and regularity of the electoral process of a sports governing body. Having been established as the supreme judge of sports disputes, by reviewing the electoral process of international and national sports federations the CAS adds to its functions a role akin to the one played by a constitutional court in national legal systems. It seems that members of international and national federations increasingly see the CAS as an ultimate guardian of fairness and validity of internal electoral proceedings. Are these features - without prejudice to the CAS role as an arbitral body- the early sign of the emergence of a Constitutional Court for Sport? More...

Olympic Agenda 2020: To bid, or not to bid, that is the question!

This post is an extended version of an article published in August on

The recent debacle among the candidate cities for the 2022 Winter Games has unveiled the depth of the bidding crisis faced by the Olympic Games. The reform process initiated in the guise of the Olympic Agenda 2020 must take this disenchantment seriously. The Olympic Agenda 2020 took off with a wide public consultation ending in April and is now at the end of the working groups phase. One of the working groups was specifically dedicated to the bidding process and was headed by IOC vice-president John Coates.  More...

The CAS jurisprudence on match-fixing in football: What can we learn from the Turkish cases? - Part 2: The procedural aspects. By Thalia Diathesopoulou

With this blog post, we continue the blog series on Turkish match-fixing cases and our attempt to map the still unchartered waters of the CAS’s match-fixing jurisprudence.

The first blog post addressed two issues related to the substance of match-fixing disputes, namely the legal characterization of the match-fixing related measure of ineligibility under Article 2.08 of the UEL Regulations as administrative or disciplinary measure and the scope of application of Article 2.08. In addition, The Turkish cases have raised procedural and evidentiary issues that need to be dealt with in the framework of match-fixing disputes.

The CAS panels have drawn a clear line between substantial and procedural matters. In this light, the Eskişehirspor panel declared the nature of Article 2.08 UEL Regulations to be administrative and rejected the application of UEFA Disciplinary Regulations to the substance. Nonetheless, it upheld that disciplinary rules and standards still apply to the procedure. This conclusion, however, can be considered puzzling in that disciplinary rules apply to the procedural matters arising by a pure administrative measure. To this extent, and despite the bifurcation of different applicable rules into substantial and procedural matters, the credibility of the qualification of Article 2.08 as administrative seems to be undermined. And here a question arises: How can the application of rules of different nature to substantial and procedural matters in an identical match-fixing dispute be explained?More...

The EU State aid and Sport Saga – A blockade to Florentino Perez’ latest “galactic” ambitions (part 2)

This is the second part of a blog series on the Real Madrid State aid case. In the previous blog on this case, an outline of all the relevant facts was provided and I analysed the first criterion of Article 107(1) TFEU, namely the criterion that an advantage must be conferred upon the recipient for the measure to be considered State aid. Having determined that Real Madrid has indeed benefited from the land transactions, the alleged aid measure has to be scrutinized under the other criteria of Article 107(1): the measure must be granted by a Member State or through State resources; the aid granted must be selective; and it must distorts or threatens to distort competition. In continuation, this blog will also analyze whether the alleged aid measure could be justified and declared compatible with EU law under Article 107(3) TFEU.More...

The CAS jurisprudence on match-fixing in football: What can we learn from the Turkish cases? - Part 1 - By Thalia Diathesopoulou

The editor’s note:

Two weeks ago we received the unpublished CAS award rendered in the Eskişehirspor case and decided to comment on it. In this post Thalia Diathesopoulou (Intern at the ASSER International Sports Law Centre) analyses the legal steps followed and interpretations adopted by CAS panels in this case and in a series of other Turkish match-fixing cases. The first part of the post will deal with the question of the legal nature of the ineligibility decision opposed by UEFA to clubs involved in one way or another into match-fixing and with the personal and material scope of UEFA’s rule on which this ineligibility is based. The second part is dedicated to the procedural rules applied in match-fixing cases.


The unpredictability of the outcome is a sine qua non feature of sports. It is this inherent uncertainty that draws the line between sports and entertainment and triggers the interest of spectators, broadcasters and sponsors. Thus, match-fixing by jeopardising the integrity and unpredictability of sporting outcomes has been described, along with doping, as one of the major threats to modern sport.[1] More...

Sport and EU Competition Law: uncharted territories - (I) The Swedish Bodybuilding case. By Ben Van Rompuy

The European Commission’s competition decisions in the area of sport, which set out broad principles regarding the interface between sports-related activities and EU competition law, are widely publicized. As a result of the decentralization of EU competition law enforcement, however, enforcement activity has largely shifted to the national level. Since 2004, national competition authorities (NCAs) and national courts are empowered to fully apply the EU competition rules on anti-competitive agreements (Article 101 TFEU) and abuse of a dominant position (Article 102 TFEU).

Even though NCAs have addressed a series of interesting competition cases (notably dealing with the regulatory aspects of sport) during the last ten years, the academic literature has largely overlooked these developments. This is unfortunate since all stakeholders (sports organisations, clubs, practitioners, etc.) increasingly need to learn from pressing issues arising in national cases and enforcement decisions. In a series of blog posts we will explore these unknown territories of the application of EU competition law to sport.More...

The Legia Warszawa case: The ‘Draconian’ effect of the forfeiture sanction in the light of the proportionality principle. By Thalia Diathesopoulou

The CAS denial of the urgent request for provisional measures filed by the Legia Warszawa SA in the course of its appeal against the UEFA Appeals Body Decision of 13 August 2014 put a premature end to Legia’s participation in the play-offs of the UEFA Champion’s League (CL) 2014/2015. Legia’s fans- and fans of Polish football - will now have to wait at least one more year to watch a Polish team playing in the CL group stage for the first time since 1996. More...

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

Editor’s note: Our first innovation for the year 2016 will be a monthly report compiling 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 world of professional sport has been making headlines for the wrong reasons in January. Football’s governing body FIFA is in such a complete governance and corruption mess that one wonders whether a new President (chosen on 26 February[1]) will solve anything. More recently, however, it is the turn of the athletics governing body, IAAF, to undergo “the walk of shame”. On 14 January the WADA Independent Commission released its second report into doping in international athletics. Where the first report (released on 9 November 2015) primarily focussed on the widespread use of doping by Russian athletes, the second report demonstrated a much wider scope of corruption and manipulation, including illegal sponsorship deals, marketing agreements and bidding processes. Guardian sport correspondents Owen Gibson and Sean Ingle have written excellent pieces here and here

Incidentally, on that same 14 January, FIFA announced that it sanctioned Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid for breaching the FIFA Regulation on the international transfer of minors. Both clubs will not be allowed to register any new players for the next two transfer windows, i.e. summer 2016 and January 2017. The sanction is identical to the one FC Barcelona received by FIFA for its failure to comply with the FIFA Regulation on the international transfer of minors. Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid have appealed the sanction to the FIFA Appeal Committee. On 30 January, the appeals were granted suspensive effect by the chairman of the FIFA Appeal Committee until the Appeal Committee has taken and notified its decision on the merits of the appeals.

One can indeed say that January was not the best month for Spanish giants Real Madrid. In addition to the FIFA sanction, the club became a new victim of football’s own version of WikiLeaks namely “footballleaks”. The publication of the transfer agreement between Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur concerning Gareth Bale brought to light the actual transfer sum of the Welsh player. Real Madrid had always claimed that it paid a “mere” €91 million. Yet the leaked agreement shows that the club actually paid €101 million, thereby making Bale the most expensive player of all time. Further claims that this transfer agreement was financed by banking institutions previously bailed out by the EU can be read in Sam Wallace’s piece (The Telegraph) here. The leaked documents by “footballleaks” led to widespread outrage. Bale’s agent, Jonathan Barnett, stated that “(t)here should be an independent investigation because it’s outrageous. I think it is disgraceful that people can get hold of this stuff. It shows complete disregard for both clubs and the player”. FIFA, on the other hand, is backing “footballleaks”, stating that the leaks are useful and admitting that it now uses the site as an information source. Furthermore, it forms an important source of information necessary to understand the functioning of Third Party Ownership and whether FIFA’s ban of the practice can be justified. The Asser International Sports Law Blog has already covered the leaked Economic Rights of Players Agreements (ERPA’s) concerning FC Twente and Sporting Lisbon, but more analysis will follow. 

Meanwhile, on 23 January the European Parliament organised a debate on TPO and FIFA’s ban. The debate included some rather emotional calls by Doyen’s CEO Nélio Lucas and La Liga’s President Javier Tebas in defence of TPO. They empathically argued that a prohibition was in breach of EU competition Law. UEFA’s Julien Zylberstein, FIFA’s Omar Ongaro and FIFPro’s Jonas Baer-Hoffmann all defended the banning of the practice. The European Commission, who was not present at the debate, and is yet to decide whether it will launch a formal investigation

Last but not least, tennis fans around the world were shocked by reports of widespread betting related match-fixing. To the surprise of some, however, all of the players allegedly involved in match-fixing were allowed to continue playing by the Tennis Integrity Unit. On 24 January tennis officials announced that an Independent Review Panel will investigate the sport, its anticorruption programme and even the Tennis Integrity unit itself. In order to get a better understanding of the reasons behind players getting involved in match-fixing, we would recommend the piece by Jon Wertheim published in Sports Illustrated on 20 January. Tennis’ vulnerability to match fixing, as he lays out pretty well, lies in the inequalities between the earnings of the top players and the players further down the ranking. 

Case law

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) published its long awaited decision concerning the alleged doping violation of the thirty-four current and former players of Essendon Football Club. Even though the CAS had already announced its decision in May 2015 (as is extensively discussed on our Blog), it is definitely worthwhile reading the award to grasp the reasoning behind the decision.

On a different note, the High Court of Justice Queen's Bench Division Manchester District Registry Mercantile Court published a very interesting judgment in the field of international sports arbitration on 19 January.[2] The case concerned a CAS award from August 2014 by which the Italian football club Palermo was ordered based on a penalty clause included in the contract to pay €9.4 million to the English firm Pencil Hill Limited. Thus, the legal question posed to the English Court was whether enforcing this CAS award based on a penalty clause would be contrary to public policy. In a nutshell, the judge held that “the public policy of upholding international arbitral awards…outweighs the public policy of refusing to enforce penalty clauses”.


Official Documents and Press Releases of the SGBs

In the news



 Footballleaks and TPO

FIFA Presidential Elections


Case law (CAS, others)

Academic materials

Upcoming events February-March

[1] For more information see Sam Borden, “In Race for FIFA President, Two Front-Runners and Many Possibilities”, New York Times 26 January 2015.

[2] Pencil Hill Limited v US Citta Di Palermo S.p.A, 2016 WL 212897. The judgment can be accessed via

Comments are closed