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 New FIFA Intermediaries Regulations under EU Law Fire in Germany. By Tine Misic

I'm sure that in 1985, plutonium is available in every corner drugstore, but in 1955, it's a little hard to come by.” (Dr. Emmett L. Brown)[1]


Back to the future?

Availing oneself of EU law in the ambit of sports in 1995 must have felt a bit like digging for plutonium, but following the landmark ruling of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in the Bosman case[2], 20 years later, with all the buzz surrounding several cases where EU law is being used as an efficient ammunition for shelling various sports governing or organising bodies, one may wonder if in 2015 EU law is to be “found in every drug store” and the recent cases (see inter alia Heinz Müller v 1. FSV Mainz 05, Daniel Striani ao v UEFA, Doyen Sports ao v URBSFA, FIFA, UEFA) [3] cannot but invitingly evoke the spirit of 1995.

One of the aforementioned cases that also stands out pertains to the injunction decision[4] issued on 29 April 2015 by the Regional Court (Landesgericht) in Frankfurt am Main (hereinafter: the Court) in the dispute between the intermediary company Firma Rogon Sportmanagement (hereinafter: the claimant) and the German Football Federation (Deutschen Fußball-Bund, DFB), where the claimant challenged the provisions of the newly adopted DFB Regulations on Intermediaries (hereinafter: DFB Regulations)[5] for being incompatible with Articles 101 and 102 TFEU.[6] The Court, by acknowledging the urgency of the matter stemming from the upcoming transfer window and the potential loss of clients, deemed a couple of shells directed at the DFB Regulations to be well-aimed, and granted an injunction due to breach of Article 101 TFEU. More...




Compatibility of fixed-term contracts in football with Directive 1999/70/EC. Part 2: The Heinz Müller case. By Piotr Drabik

Introduction
The first part of the present blog article provided a general introduction to the compatibility of fixed-term contracts in football with Directive 1999/70/EC[1] (Directive). However, as the Member States of the European Union enjoy a considerable discretion in the implementation of a directive, grasping the impact of the Directive on the world of football would not be possible without considering the national context. The recent ruling of the Arbeitsgericht Mainz (the lowest German labour court; hereinafter the Court) in proceedings brought by a German footballer Heinz Müller provides an important example in this regard. This second part of the blog on the legality of fixed-term contract in football is devoted to presenting and assessing the Court’s decision.


I. Facts and Procedure
Heinz Müller, the main protagonist of this case, was a goalkeeper playing for 1.FSV Mainz 05 a club partaking to the German Bundesliga. More...


Compatibility of Fixed-Term Contracts in Football with Directive 1999/70/EC. Part.1: The General Framework. By Piotr Drabik

Introduction
On 25 March 2015, the Labour Court of Mainz issued its decision in proceedings brought by a German footballer, Heinz Müller, against his (now former) club 1. FSV Mainz 05 (Mainz 05). The Court sided with the player and ruled that Müller should have been employed by Mainz 05 for an indefinite period following his 2009 three year contract with the club which was subsequently extended in 2011 to run until mid-2014. The judgment was based on national law implementing Directive 1999/70 on fixed-term work[1] (Directive) with the latter being introduced pursuant to art. 155(2) TFEU (ex art. 139(2) TEC). On the basis of this article, European social partners’ may request a framework agreement which they conclude to be implemented on the European Union (EU, Union) level by a Council decision on a proposal from the Commission. One of the objectives of the framework agreement,[2] and therefore of the Directive, was to establish a system to prevent abuse arising from the use of successive fixed-term employment contracts or relationships[3] which lies at the heart of the discussed problem.[4] More...

UEFA’s FFP out in the open: The Dynamo Moscow Case

Ever since UEFA started imposing disciplinary measures to football clubs for not complying with Financial Fair Play’s break-even requirement in 2014, it remained a mystery how UEFA’s disciplinary bodies were enforcing the Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play (“FFP”) regulations, what measures it was imposing, and what the justifications were for the imposition of these measures. For over a year, the general public could only take note of the 23 settlement agreements between Europe’s footballing body and the clubs. The evidential obstacle for a proper analysis was that the actual settlements remained confidential, as was stressed in several of our previous Blogs.[1] The information provided by the press releases lacked the necessary information to answer the abovementioned questions.

On 24 April 2015, the UEFA Club Financial Control Body lifted part of the veil by referring FC Dynamo Moscow to the Adjudicatory Body. Finally, the Adjudicatory Body had the opportunity to decide on a “FFP case. The anxiously-awaited Decision was reached by the Adjudicatory Chamber on 19 June and published not long after. Now that the Decision has been made public, a new stage of the debate regarding UEFA’s FFP policy can start.More...

Policing the (in)dependence of National Federations through the prism of the FIFA Statutes. By Tine Misic

…and everything under the sun is in tune,

but the sun is eclipsed by the moon…[1] 


The issue

Ruffling a few feathers, on 30 May 2015 the FIFA Executive Committee rather unsurprisingly, considering the previous warnings,[2] adopted a decision to suspend with immediate effect the Indonesian Football Federation (PSSI) until such time as PSSI is able to comply with its obligations under Articles 13 and 17 of the FIFA Statutes.[3] Stripping PSSI of its membership rights, the decision results in a prohibition of all Indonesian teams (national or club) from having any international sporting contact. In other words, the decision precludes all Indonesian teams from participating in any competition organised by either FIFA or the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). In addition, the suspension of rights also precludes all PSSI members and officials from benefits of any FIFA or AFC development programme, course or training during the term of suspension. This decision coincides with a very recent award by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in this ambit, which shall be discussed further below.[4]More...


The Brussels Court judgment on Financial Fair Play: a futile attempt to pull off a Bosman. By Ben Van Rompuy

On 29 May 2015, the Brussels Court of First Instance delivered its highly anticipated judgment on the challenge brought by football players’ agent Daniel Striani (and others) against UEFA’s Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations (FFP). In media reports,[1] the judgment was generally portrayed as a significant initial victory for the opponents of FFP. The Brussels Court not only made a reference for a preliminary ruling to the European Court of Justice (CJEU) but also imposed an interim order blocking UEFA from implementing the second phase of the FFP that involves reducing the permitted deficit for clubs.

A careful reading of the judgment, however, challenges the widespread expectation that the CJEU will now pronounce itself on the compatibility of the FFP with EU law. More...

A Bridge Too Far? Bridge Transfers at the Court of Arbitration for Sport. By Antoine Duval and Luis Torres.

FIFA’s freshly adopted TPO ban entered into force on 1 May (see our Blog symposium). Though it is difficult to anticipate to what extent FIFA will be able to enforce the ban, it is likely that many of the third-party investors will try to have recourse to alternative solutions to pursue their commercial involvement in the football transfer market. One potential way to circumvent the FIFA ban is to use the proxy of what has been coined “bridge transfers”. A bridge transfer occurs when a club is used as an intermediary bridge in the transfer of a player from one club to another. The fictitious passage through this club is used to circumscribe, for example, the payment of training compensation or to whitewash a third-party ownership by transforming it into a classical employment relationship. This is a legal construction that has gained currency especially in South American football, but not only. On 5 May 2015, in the Racing Club v. FIFA case, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) rendered its first award involving directly a bridge transfer. As this practice could become prevalent in the coming years we think that this case deserves a close look. More...

20 Years After Bosman - The New Frontiers of EU Law and Sport - Special Issue of the Maastricht Journal of European and Comparative Law

Editor's note: This is a short introduction written for the special Issue of the Maastricht Journal of European and Comparative Law celebrating the 20 years of the Bosman ruling and dedicated to the new frontiers of EU law and Sport (the articles are available here). For those willing to gain a deeper insight into the content of the Issue we organize (in collaboration with Maastricht University and the Maastricht Journal) a launching event with many of the authors in Brussels tomorrow (More info here).More...

ASSER Exclusive! Interview with Charles “Chuck” Blazer by Piotr Drabik

Editor’s 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.



Mr 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 great (laughs)!

 

It is 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.

 More...



Financial Fair Play: Lessons from the 2014 and 2015 settlement practice of UEFA. By Luis Torres

UEFA announced on 8 May that it had entered into Financial Fair Play settlement agreements with 10 European football clubs. Together with the four other agreements made in February 2015, this brings the total to 14 FFP settlements for 2015 and 23 since UEFA adopted modifications in its Procedural rules and allowed settlements agreements to be made between the Clubs and the Chief Investigator of the UEFA Club Financial Control Body (CFCB).[1] 

In the two years during which UEFA’s FFP regulations have been truly up and running we have witnessed the centrality taken by the settlement procedure in their enforcement. It is extremely rare for a club to be referred to the FFP adjudication chamber. In fact, only the case regarding Dynamo Moscow has been referred to the adjudication chamber. Thus, having a close look at the settlement practice of UEFA is crucial to gaining a good understanding of the functioning of FFP. Hence, this blog offers a detailed analysis of this year’s settlement agreements and compares them with last year’s settlements. More...

Asser International Sports Law Blog | Sports arbitration and EU Competition law: the Belgian competition authority enters the arena. By Marine Montejo

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

Sports arbitration and EU Competition law: the Belgian competition authority enters the arena. By Marine Montejo

Editor's note: Marine Montejo is a graduate from the College of Europe in Bruges and is currently an intern at the ASSER International Sports Law Centre.

On 14 July 2016, the Belgian competition authority refused to grant provisional measures to the White Star Woluwe Football Club (“The White Star”), which would have allowed it to compete in the Belgian top football division. The club was refused a licence to compete in the above mentioned competition first by the Licences Commission of the national football federation (“Union Royale Belge des Sociétés de Foootball Association” or “URBSFA”) and then by the Belgian court of arbitration for sports (“Cour Belge d’Arbitrage pour le Sport” or “CBAS”). The White Star lodged a complaint to the national competition authority (“NCA”) and requested provisional measures. The Belgian competition authority rendered a much-overlooked decision (besides one commentary) in which it seems to accept the reviewability of an arbitral award’s conformity with EU competition law (articles 101 and 102 TFEU). 


1. Licencing mechanism in football and EU competition law

In April 2016, the White Star won the 2015-2016 Belgian’s football second division championship (until then known as the “Proximus League”, but as of the 2016-2017 season renamed “Division 1B” or “D1 B”) and, as such, was, on sporting grounds, expected to accede to the top division (“Division 1A” or “D1 A”, but previously called “Jupiler ProLeague”).

However, in order to be allowed to compete in the D1 A championship (as well as for the D1 B), all professional football clubs have to obtain a licence under the URBSFA’s regulation (“federal regulation”). This licence is granted if the club complies with of the following criteria:

  • Article 406 provides for the so-called ‘continuity obligation’ which, in a nutshell, aims at ensuring the financial stability of the club for the entire season to come.

  • Article 407 draws up a list of general conditions by which all professional clubs have to comply with.

  • Articles 408 and 410 provide for specific conditions for either D1 A and D1 B clubs.

On 12 April 2016, the URBSFA Licences Commission (“Commission des Licences”) refused to grant the D1 A or the D1 B licences to the White Star to the effect that the club did not comply with the general conditions provided in article 407. According to the Licenses Commission, the club suffers from chronical financial problems (including unpaid debts) and it had no guarantees of having access to its stadium for the upcoming season as no agreement had been reached at the time with the municipality. The White Star appealed the decision to the CBAS, which rendered its arbitral award on 6 May (award published on 13 May). The arbitral tribunal annulled the first decision of the Licences Commission, insofar as at the time of the hearing the White Star provided further evidence that it complied with the general conditions. However, the CBAS finally decided not to grant the licence, because the club’s financial stability was not ensured and, as a consequence, it did not comply with the ‘continuity obligation’ provided in article 406. The arbitral tribunal highlights the club’s chaotic financial situation in its award[1] and concluded that the club could not be granted either a D1 A or D1 B licences. Consequently, the club should be relegated to the third division and be subject to amateur status.

The White Star sought provisional measures before the NCA in order to be granted a professional licence and participate in the D1 A 2016-2017 championship. To grant an interim measure, the NCA has to make a prima facie assessment of the alleged infraction which, in this case, relates to the licencing system. The question is whether a refusal to grant a licence to a football club, which would allow it to participate in the first division infringes competition law. Without prejudice to the final decision, the NCA recalled that the licence system at stake had already been assessed and found compatible with EU competition law provisions in previous decisions.[2] Furthermore, the NCA indirectly assessed[3] the modification of the system that was decided in 2015 by the Belgian federation, which provides for stronger control over financial conditions and continuity obligations. It is widely acknowledged that a licencing system has a restrictive effect because it limits access to football competitions. Without said licence, a club cannot enter the relevant market. However, those effects were found to be inherent to the organisation of sport competitions (Meca Medina, C-519/04, 18/07/2006) and proportionate to its objective, i.e. to make sure that all clubs are able to sustain their participation in the competition, as a financial default of one club during the season would threaten the position of the competition and of the others clubs. Subsequently, the Belgian competition authority decided that it was not established prima facie that there was a breach of competition law provisions either with regard to the ‘continuity obligation’ or its application. 

The surprising aspect of the decision is that the NCA envisaged an alternative and less restrictive measure by integrating the White Star into the second division without it being requested by the club in its complaint. Both D1 A and D1 B licences were refused because after the 2015 modification of the regulation, the criteria for both divisions converged in order to professionalize the second division. This means that if the D1 A licence is refused, the probability is relatively high that the other licence (D1 B) will be refused as well and that the club will be relegated to the third division. The NCA concluded that this arrangement was inherent to the modification of the regulation and that it was not, prima facie, a disproportionate restriction. The decision also stated that the balance between the White Star’s interests and those of other clubs would be compromised if no breach is found in the final decision.[4] 


2. Sports arbitral awards and EU competition law, an uneasy relationship

The most interesting part of the decision is on the interaction between EU competition law and sports arbitration. The Belgian football federation’s regulation provides for the exclusive competence of the CBAS to appeal the Licences Commission’s decision (article 421). The arbitration tribunal then has the duty to conduct a further factual and legal examination of the case. The award is still amenable to an action for annulment in front of the First Instance Tribunal (“Tribunal de Première Instance”). The possible grounds are listed exhaustively in article 1717§2 of the Belgian Judicial Code (“Code Judiciaire Belge”). This procedure is not unknown in sports law and is rather similar to the system in force at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (“CAS”) in appeal procedures following a sports federation’s decision where the regulation of the body concerned expressly provides for it. Judicial review of the CAS award is also available before the Swiss Federal Tribunal on a very limited number of grounds. 

Challenges to arbitral awards concerning sports matters on EU competition law grounds is not a novelty either. In the past, the European Commission (“Commission”) and the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”) received complaints on EU competition law grounds involving arbitral awards rendered by the CAS. All these cases have one thing in common: both the Commission and the CJEU decisions did not refer directly to the arbitral award and went on instead to examine whether the rules of the sport governing body (“SGB”) on which the awards were grounded were compatible with EU competition law provisions. Already with the Meca Medina case the CJEU limited its assessment to FINA (International Swimming Federation) anti-doping regulations. The same approach was used by the Commission in the ENIC case referring to the UEFA rule on multiple ownership of football clubs (COMP/37 806 ENIC Plc/UEFA, 25/06/2002) and the Cañas case regarding the ATP anti-doping code (COMP/39471, Certain joueurs de tennis professionnels v. Agence mondiale antidopage, ATP et CIAS, 12/10/2009). In those three cases, the SGB’s rules were found compatible with EU competition law provisions as long as they are proportionate to their objective, which was deemed the case in such instances. However, if the rule at stake had been found in breach of articles 101 or 102 TFEU, the award would be contrary to EU competition law as well.

The Court and the Commission are reluctant to give way to challenges against arbitral awards based on competition law provisions.[5] In Meca Medina, the Commission and the Court both criticized the applicants’ choice to submit a complaint based on EU competition law while they did not appeal the CAS award in front of the Swiss Federal Tribunal.[6] In Cañas, the Commission endorsed CAS as a legitimate independent institution whose role as a sport arbitral institution is comparable to that of national courts.[7] It is particularly striking that the Commission is reluctant to be seen as an alternative appeal mechanism against CAS awards[8], and here probably lies the explanation as to why it restricts its assessment to the SGB’s rule and leaves the arbitral award aside.

 

3. The White Star decision, a new twist in the debate

The Belgian competition authority faces the same type of challenge in the White Star case in which the arbitral award was an appeal of the Belgian football federation’s decision based on the federal regulation providing for a licence mechanism and, as a consequence, restricting the access for the club to the market of top division football matches. Had the NCA followed the Commission and the CJEU practice, it would have ignored the award and directly assessed the SGB’s rule under EU competition law. 

Yet, the Belgian competition authority did not leave the award aside. To apply EU competition law provisions to that case, the NCA did not have any difficulty in considering that the football federation is an association of undertakings (nothing new and revolutionary here), and quickly concluded that the CBAS is neither an undertaking nor an association of undertakings following the Commission assessment in Cañas[9]. However, and the innovative aspect of the decision lies here, it considers that the interpretation of the URBSFA regulation enacted by the football federation, an association of undertakings and as such bound by competition law provisions, may be a restrictive practice even though the CBAS is not in itself subject to competition law.[10] The licensing requirements provided by the federal regulation are subject to competition law scrutiny because the URBSFA is an association of undertakings. The arbitral award annulled and replaced the URBSFA Licences Commission’s decision[11], as the CBAS has unlimited jurisdiction to review the case on appeal. As a consequence, the only decision still existing is the arbitral award. Therefore, it seems that the Belgian competition authority considers that the effect of the award is to implement the URBSFA’s regulation which means that the arbitral award is ‘detached’ from the arbitral tribunal and deemed attributable to the football association and, as a consequence, may potentially constitute a restrictive practice[12]. The new and important aspect of the decision being that the NCA will then review both the URBSFA regulations and its interpretation by the CBAS in its arbitral award, meaning that the Belgian competition authority will also assess the arbitral award. 

An explanation for this innovative argumentation is probably the fact that this case is a request for interim measures related to an individual decision, i.e. the arbitral award. The Belgian NCA, contrary to the established practice of EU institutions in similar cases, did not deal with it as an indirect challenge to the award via the URBSFA regulation. The NCA justifies its reasoning by saying that it must protect the effectiveness (“effet utile”) of later decisions on the merits of the case.[13] It therefore recalls that its role is to enforce competition law provisions which are a matter of public policy based on the CJEU’s Eco Swiss (C-126/97) decision. This case concerns an action for annulment in commercial arbitration, but its findings can be extended to sports arbitration. Following the Eco Swiss jurisprudence, the responsibility for reviewing compliance with European public policy rules lies with the national courts of the Member States and not with the arbitrators. This means that it is for the judges to decide whether an arbitral award is in conformity with EU competition law and set it aside if it breaches these provisions. 

The Belgian competition authority extended that jurisprudence to its own assessment of the compatibility of the URBSFA regulation with EU competition law.[14] Hence, if it had considered the regulation in breach of EU competition law, the award itself would have been found contrary to the same provisions and set aside. This means that, in the end, the NCA would have the ability to set aside the arbitral award without the interference of a (national) court in the meaning of the Eco Swiss judgment. Indeed, if the SGB’s rules are contrary to articles 101 or 102 TFEU, then the award is too.[15] The NCA decision will, consequently, lead to the annulment of the arbitral decision which, in turn, will not be enforced. This is also important in the light of the Belgian competition authority decision that is, while attributing the award to the SGB, also allowing a control on the interpretation of the licensing rules by the CBAS.

Nonetheless, the Belgian competition agrees with the CJEU and the Commission regarding the competition law arguments raised against the arbitral procedure. The White Star challenged the ‘forced’ appeal procedure in front of the CBAS provided by the federal regulation as well as the independence and impartiality of the CBAS on competition law grounds. The CBAS invoked the findings in the recent Pechstein case (Bundesgerichtshof, KZR 6/15, 07/06/2016), very similar to the one at stake, to argue that the procedural characteristics in sports arbitration had already been found compatible with EU competition law. At the EU level, the Commission already considered that a forced arbitration clause would only constitute a breach of EU competition law if it supports a restrictive practice, but not on its own (see Cañas, p. 41). The Belgian competition authority, in turn, considers that there is not a prima facie competition law breach because of the possibility to appeal the arbitral award to the Tribunal of First Instance, a national court.[16] The argumentation on this point is limited. However, one should remember that this is an interim measure decision and the NCA is only checking prima facie restrictions. 

Finally, the Belgian competition authority did not quite reply to the CBAS argument stating that preliminary measures would endanger the uniformity and organisation of sports arbitration if granted in that case. It recalled that in a previous case of interim relief regarding a CBAS sentence, a judge declared of its own motion that it had no jurisdiction to hear the case (Première instance du Hainaut, Division de Mons, 09/05/2016), but the Tribunal of First Instance did have jurisdiction by law. The question is whether the NCA created a third alternative of recourses against arbitral awards in addition to the one in front of the First Instance Tribunal. The NCA made sure to state that it is not an appeal body[17] and, as such, its only preoccupation is to scrutinize that competition law provisions are applied. Therefore, the NCA did not create an alternative way of appeal, but the attribution of an arbitral award to a sport federation is a notable move. The CBAS argues in its conclusions[18] that the judge in the proceeding detailed in article 1717 of the Belgian Code of Justice is as competent as the NCA to hear EU competition law arguments in the case of an appeal (where the Eco Swiss judgement applies). 

The CBAS argument is not entirely convincing. If this decision appears to be as important, it is because the NCA will, in most cases, have a greater capacity than a judge to decide if there is a competition law breach. On another hand, a question is raised about the extent of the control of the judge over public policy arguments in the case of a legal action against the enforcement of an arbitral award. For example, the French Cour de Cassation requires a control limited to a manifest error of assessment (Cour de Cassation, Chambre civile 1, of 13 October 1981, 80-11.098, Publié au bulletin). Indeed, in the Belgian case the NCA will exercise a more stringent control than just the identification of a flagrant infringement of competition law provisions. To add to the debate, in a recent case[19] Advocate General Whatelet defended a stronger control of the judge over the compatibility of arbitral awards with EU competition law.[20] The CJEU did not endorse this position but did not reject it either. The question whether arbitral awards and the rules they are based on will become subject to greater scrutiny under articles 101 and 102 TFEU is still pending. 

Consequently, the Belgian competition authority extended the EU competition law control over sports arbitration to cover the specific interpretation of the SGB’s regulations by an arbitral tribunal. As a consequence, and if this reasoning is confirmed, lawyers might be able to challenge an arbitral award directly with the national competition authorities if it appears to interpret the SGB’s regulations in contradiction with EU competition law.

It should be noted that this procedure is only about provisional measures, but the legal reasoning used by the Belgian competition authority shakes the already shaky grounds of sports arbitration. After the Pechstein and SV Wihelmshaven cases in German courts, sports arbitration is anew put to the test based on EU law considerations. The Belgium decision went unnoticed because it is in French and the regulations at stake were not deemed contrary to competition law. However, if more national competition authorities follow a similar reasoning, more challenges of arbitral awards in sport matters will necessarily arise. The question that remains open is whether the Commission itself will welcome such a change or not.




[1] « Force est de constater qu’il s’agit là d’un ensemble de faits précis, graves et concordants qui remettent fondamentalement en cause l’affirmation selon laquelle la continuité du club peut être assurée pour la saison 2016-2017 », Cour Belge d’Arbitrage pour le Sport, 13/05/2016, p.23.

[2] See for example decision 2004-E/A-25, 04/03/2004.

[3] The NCA organises an informal procedure with the ProLeague, the Belgian professional football teams’ association, to monitor the sale of the media rights from 2005. In this framework the NCA had to examine the modification of the football federation’s regulation in 2015. See, for further explanation, Autorité Belge de la Concurrence, 14/07/2016 points 22-62, p. 65-69.

[4] « … la balance des intérêts de la Requérante et des autres clubs risque d’être compromise au cas où une infraction ne serait pas établie », Autorité Belge de la Concurrence, 14/07/2016 point 81, p. 177.

[5] For an in-depth analysis, see Antoine Duval, “The Court of arbitration for sport and EU Law: Chronicle of Encounter”, (2015) 22, Maastrich Journal of European and Comparative Law, 2, p. 224-255.

[6] Supra, p. 251.

[7] Supra, p. 252.

[8] Supra, p. 253.

[9] « (…) Le rôle du TAS est comparable à celui d’un tribunal. Il rend des décisions arbitrales qui ont généralement la même force que des jugements de juridictions de droit commun. L’exercice de ces activités de jugement, ainsi que l’administration et le financement de ces activités par le CIAS, ne peuvent être considérés comme constituant une activité économique (…) Par conséquent, il semble difficile de qualifier le CIAS (ou le TAS) (…) d’entreprises ou d’associations d’entreprises au sens de l’article 81 et/ou 82 du traité CE. », COMP/39471, Certain joueurs de tennis professionnels v. Agence mondiale antidopage, ATP et CIAS, 12/10/2009, point 23.

[10] « […] Le Collège ne considère dès lors pas manifestement déraisonnable de penser que l’Autorité puisse constater qu’une interprétation d’un règlement qui entre dans le champ d’application des règles de concurrence, constitue une pratique restrictive même sans qu’elle ne soit sanctionnable dans le chef de l’instance qui l’a interprété […] », Autorité Belge de la Concurrence, 14/07/2016 point 53, p. 172.

[11] « Met à néant la décision prononcée par la Commission des Licences de l’ASBL URBSFA… », Cour Belge d’Arbitrage pour le Sport, 13/05/2016, p. 32.

[12] See supra 10 and « (…) [Le Collège] peut dès lors apprécier dans le cadre de cette procédure en matière de mesures provisoires, prima facie, la conformité avec le droit de la concurrence du Règlement fédéral et de son application et effets dans la mesure où le refus de licence continue à produire ses effets, même si la décision de la commission de l’URBSFA est formellement remplacée par la sentence arbitrale de la CBAS. », Autorité Belge de la Concurrence, 14/07/2016 point 53, p. 172.

[13] « […] de protéger dans le cadre de cette procédure en matière de mesures provisoires l’effet utile de la décision à prendre dans le cadre de la procédure de fond. […] », Autorité Belge de la Concurrence, 14/07/2016 point 53, p. 172.

[14] « Le Collège fait remarquer qu’une autorité de concurrence est chargée de la mise en œuvre de règles d’ordre public. […] », Autorité Belge de la Concurrence, 14/07/2016 point 52, p. 172.

[15] See Duval, p. 251.

[16] Autorité Belge de la Concurrence, 14/07/2016 point 62, p. 174.

[17] « Elle n’est pas une instance d’appel pour entendre des recours contre une décision attaquée », Supra, point 52, p. 172.

[18] Autorité Belge de la Concurrence, 14/07/2016 point 119, p. 146.

[19] Opinion of Advocate General Wathelet, 17/03/2016, Case C‑567/14, Genentech Inc.v Hoechst GmbH, formerly Hoechst AG, Sanofi-Aventis Deutschland GmbH and CJEU, 07/07/2016.

[20] Supra, point 71 “For these reasons, the review by a court of a Member State of whether international arbitral awards are contrary to European public policy rules cannot be conditioned by whether or not this question was raised or debated during the arbitration proceedings, nor can it be limited by the prohibition under national law preventing the substance of the award in issue from being reconsidered.”

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