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International and European Sports Law – Monthly Report – January 2017. By Saverio Spera.

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 Diarra ruling of the Tribunal of Charleroi

On 19 January 2017, the Hainaut Commercial Tribunal – Charleroi rendered its decision on the lawsuit filed by the football player Lassana Diarra against FIFA and the Belgian FA (URBSFA) for damages caused by not being able to exercise the status of a professional football player during the entire 2014/2015 season. The lawsuit is linked to the decision, rendered by the FIFA Dispute Resolution Chamber (DRC) on April 2015, to support Lokomotiv’s decision to terminate the player’s contract and to order Diarra to pay Lokomotiv the amount of EUR 10,500,000 for having breached his contract. According to the plaintiff, Diarra’s opportunity to be recruited by Sporting Charleroi was denied due to the club being potentially considered jointly liable for Diarra’s compensation pursuant to Article 17 (2) RSTP. The Belgian court held strongly that “when the contract is terminated by the club, the player must have the possibility to sign a new contract with a new employer, without restrictions to his free movement”. This case highlighted, once again, the need to read the RSTP in the light of EU law. Moreover, the decision is laying further ground for broader challenges to the RSTP on the basis of EU law (for a deeper insight into the Diarra ruling, see the recent blog written by our senior researcher Antoine Duval)

The IAAF Decision on three of its employees in corruption linked to the Russian doping scandal

On 31 January 2017, IAAF Ethic Board released its decision on allegations of corruption linked to the Russian doping scandal involving three of its employees, Nick Davies, Jane Boulter-Davies and Pierre-Yves Garnier,. The decision of the Panel stems from an email released by the media, which was sent by Nick Davies, then IAAF’s Deputy General Secretary and Director of Communications, to Papa Massata Diack, marketing consultant to the IAAF and son of the IAAF’s then President Lamine Diack, on 19 July 2013, shortly before the commencing of the IAAF World Championships in Moscow. In the email Nick Davies outlined a plan to minimise the damage provoked by the news related to the positive doping tests of a number of Russian athletes, in light of the imminent IAAF World Championships. During the investigation commissioned by the Ethic Board, it emerged that Nick Davies received sums of money for corrupt purposes in relation to the aforementioned plan and that he subsequently concealed the remuneration; that his wife, Jane Boulter-Davies, misled the investigation carried out on behalf of the Ethic Board; and that Pierre-Yves Garnier, Medical and Scientific Senior Manager, received sums of money to the same end. The Panel, therefore, banned Mr Davies from his position at the IAAF, and suspended Mrs Boulter-Davies and Mr. Garnier from their IAAF positions for a period of 6 months.  

CAS award on UEFA Membership of Football Federation of Kosovo

In the dispute between the Football Association of Serbia (FAS) and UEFA over the admission of the Football Federation of Kosovo (FFK) as the 55th member association of UEFA, the CAS sided with UEFA and dismissed the appeal filed by the FAS. The CAS award confirms the FFK’s admission as a member association of UEFA. The CAS Panel analysed Article 5(1) UEFA Statues, which requires the recognition by the United Nations (UN) as an independent state in order for a football associations situated in the continent of Europe to obtain the membership of UEFA. It held that the provision has to be interpreted as requiring that the territory in which the football federation is located be recognised by the majority of the UN member states as an “independent state”. Given that this prerequisite was fulfilled with respect to FFK, FAS’ appeal was dismissed.

Ruling of the Commercial Court of Zurich on FIFA's responsibility for human rights violations in Qatar

Finally, on 3 January 2017, the Commercial Court of the Canton of Zurich dismissed the lawsuit filed against FIFA 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 for alleged human rights violations in connection with the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. The plaintiffs asserted that FIFA's legal responsibility for those violations arose out of FIFA's inaction to remedy them. First, when it selected Qatar as host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup without simultaneously demanding minimum human rights and labour rights for World Cup-related migrant workers. Second, when it failed and still is failing to take responsibility for the fate of migrant workers by not demanding Qatar to reform its labour system.

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