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

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 | The CAS and Mutu - Episode 4 - Interpreting the FIFA Transfer Regulations with a little help from EU Law

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 and Mutu - Episode 4 - Interpreting the FIFA Transfer Regulations with a little help from EU Law

On 21 January 2015, the Court of arbitration for sport (CAS) rendered its award in the latest avatar of the Mutu case, aka THE sports law case that keeps on giving (this decision might still be appealed to the Swiss Federal tribunal and a complaint by Mutu is still pending in front of the European Court of Human Right). The decision was finally published on the CAS website on Tuesday. Basically, the core question focuses on the interpretation of Article 14. 3 of the FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players in its 2001 version. More precisely, whether, in case of a dismissal of a player (Mutu) due to a breach of the contract without just cause by the player, the new club (Juventus and/or Livorno) bears the duty to pay the compensation due by the player to his former club (Chelsea). Despite winning maybe the most high profile case in the history of the CAS, Chelsea has been desperately hunting for its money since the rendering of the award (as far as the US), but it is a daunting task. Thus, the English football club had the idea to turn against Mutu’s first employers after his dismissal in 2005, Juventus and Livorno, with success in front of the FIFA Dispute Resolution Chamber (DRC), but as we will see the CAS decided otherwise[1].

      I.         Facts and Procedure of the Mutu Case

The Mutu saga is probably one of the most well known sagas in the sports law world (with the unavoidable Bosman case and the up and coming Pechstein one). It cumulates the glamour drama of a star’s downfall due to a positive cocaine test and many important legal developments.

The saga started in July 2004 with a private drug test conducted by Chelsea on Mutu that turned out to be positive to cocaine. The club issued a fine and a warning. But, in October 2004, Mutu was again tested positive to cocaine, this time by the English FA. Upon this finding, and Mutu’s admission of having ingested cocaine, Chelsea decided to terminate his contract on 28 October 2004. On 29 January 2005 the player was registered at Livorno, before being transferred two days later to Juventus. Juventus had reached its quota of non-EU players it could recruit from outside Italy and used this strategy to circumvent the Italian rules applicable at that time.

Meanwhile, Mutu had challenged in front of the FA’s Appeals Committee (FAPLAC) the decision of Chelsea to terminate his employment contract. In April 2005, the FAPLAC decided that Mutu had committed a breach of his employment contract without just cause. Mutu appealed this decision to the CAS without success (CAS 2005/A/876). In May 2006, Chelsea launched a complaint before the DRC to obtain compensation against the player on the basis of the contractual breach without just cause. The DRC in its decision from 26 October 2006 (available here) held that it could not pronounce itself on the matter and that Chelsea had to turn to FAPLAC. Chelsea appealed the decision to the CAS, which enjoined the DRC to decide on the matter (CAS 2006/A/1192). Consequently, the DRC decided on 7 May 2008 to award €17, 173 990 in damages to Chelsea. Unsurprisingly, Mutu decided to appeal the decision to the CAS, he was especially contesting the amount of compensation awarded, which on 31 July 2009 endorsed the decision of the DRC (CAS 2008/A/1644). It even held that the damage claims of Chelsea were higher, but decided it could not go ultra petita and award a higher sum to the club. Mutu, which had unsuccessfully challenged the independence and impartiality of one of the arbitrators due to his previous participation in the first Mutu case (CAS 2005/A/876), went on to contest the validity of the award in front of the Swiss Federal Tribunal (SFT) mainly on this basis. In its decision (4A_458/2009), the SFT rejected Mutu’s claims regarding the lack of independence of the arbitrator, a decision that has attracted widespread criticisms in the literature.[2] Moreover, it also held that the amount of compensation awarded was not a restriction to free movement in the sense of the Bosman ruling and could not amount to an infringement of Mutu’s personality rights. Thereafter, Mutu decided to continue his fight in yet another forum: the European Court of Human Rights (40575/10).

Chelsea had the final award giving it the right to damages, but still needed to get hold on the money. To do so, it even asked (and obtained) for the recognition and the enforcement of the award in the US (see here), where Mutu was expected to have some property. Nevertheless, Mutu went on to play for smaller and smaller teams, thus earning less and less, and Chelsea’s hope of getting paid in full faded away. However, on 15 July 2010, five years after Mutu’s move to Italy’s Serie A in the first place, Chelsea decided to submit a petition to the FIFA DRC against Juventus and Livorno, asking the DRC to find them jointly liable for the awarded compensation. The claim was based on Article 14.3. of the RSTP 2001, stating that: "If a player is registered for a new club and has not paid a sum of compensation within the one month time limit referred to above, the new club shall be deemed jointly responsible for payment of the amount of compensation." The DRC, in an unpublished decision dated 25 April 2013 (see here and here), followed the interpretation of Article 14.3. RSTP suggested by Chelsea and found that “under the clear wording of Article 14.3, the Player's New Club was automatically jointly responsible for the payment of the Awarded Compensation due by the Player, should the latter fail to fulfil his obligations within a month of notification of the relevant decision”.[3] This provision would make “no distinction between the termination of the contract by a player without just cause and the termination of a contract by a club with just cause”.[4] It also held that "the registrations of the player with both [Appellants] were so closely connected that, given the exceptional circumstances of this specific matter, both Juventus and Livorno should be considered the player's new club in the sense of art. 14 of the Application Regulations”.[5]

Both Juventus and Livorno decided to appeal this decision to the CAS, which in its award decided to reject the DRC’s reasoning.


    II.         The Meaning of Article 14.3 FIFA RSTP

The whole case focuses on the interpretation of the wording of Article 14.3 of the RSTP 2001. Does it mean that every club, whatever the circumstances, must pay compensation when it hires a player that bears the responsibility of the breach of his contract? Or, does it restrict this duty to the cases where the breach can be reasonably imputed to the will of the player to leave his former club?

A. Contractual or statutory interpretation?

In order to determine the interpretative tools to be used to identify the meaning of article 14.3 RSTP, the Panel must first clarify the nature of Article 14.3 under Swiss law.[6] Basically, is the provision of a contractual or quasi-statutory nature? The Panel “does not consider that there is a contractual relationship between the Appellants and Chelsea”.[7] Indeed, “[i]f there is no contractual relationship between an indirect member (i.e. any of the Parties) and a sport federation (i.e. FIFA), the conclusion should be the same as regards the relationship between two indirect members of the same federation”.[8] Furthermore, the “[a]cceptance of general rules (such as FIFA Regulations) does not necessarily entail subjection to specific obligations when their scope must be determinable on the basis of minimum criteria”.[9] Thus, the question raised implies only the interpretation of the bylaw of a Swiss legal entity, FIFA.

The Panel highlights four methods of interpretation under Swiss law:

-  the literal interpretation ("interprétation littérale");

-  the systematic interpretation ("interprétation systématique");

-  the principle of purposive interpretation ("interprétation téléologique");

-  the principle of so-called "compliant interpretation" ("interprétation conforme").[10]

The “starting point” [11] is always the wording of the text. The Swiss Federal Tribunal recognizes that “[t]here is no reason to depart from the plain text, unless there are objective reasons to think that it does not reflect the core meaning of the provision under review”.[12] Moreover, when asked to interpret a law, the SFT “adopts a pragmatic approach and follows a plurality of methods, without assigning any priority to the various means of interpretation”.[13] However, the question is whether those interpretative methods should also apply to the (private) bylaws of a private association. The Panel notes that “[a]s regards the statutes of larger entities, it may be more appropriate to have recourse to the method of interpretation applicable to the law, whereas in the presence of smaller enterprises, the statutes may more legitimately be interpreted by reference to good faith”.[14] It finds that “FIFA's regulations have effects which are felt worldwide, and should therefore be subject to the more objective interpretation principles” applicable to Swiss laws.[15]

In short, the Panel is of the opinion that FIFA regulations, bylaws of an association under Swiss law, are to be interpreted analogously to national laws.

B. EU law as THE decisive contextual element to interpret the RSTP

The Panel first tries to interpret Article 14.3 on the basis of its wording. However, it is of the opinion that the wording is ambiguous and therefore “it is necessary to look beyond the wording of this provision”[16] and adopts what it calls a “contextual approach”.

In short, “the context surrounding the implementation of the RSTP 2001 is of crucial importance in interpreting Article 14.3”.[17] In the view of the Panel (and the appellants), this context is constituted by the application of EU law to sport and especially the Bosman case of the Court of Justice of the EU. Indeed, it is “[a]s part of the reform of the FIFA and UEFA rules following the Bosman decision, [that] FIFA adopted the RSTP 2001”.[18] Thus, the requirements set by the CJEU’s jurisprudence in sports matters are decisive to define the reach of the provisions included in the RSTP. Moreover, the rejection decision of the Commission regarding the complaint submitted against FIFA’s transfer regulations is also important.[19] Specifically, the Panel deduces from the Commission’s decision that it recognizes the need to sanction unilateral termination of contracts.[20]

In the present case, it is precisely the “contractual stability [that] is at the centre of the debate”.[21] In a nutshell, does the paramount objective of contractual stability justify that Juventus and Livorno be considered jointly liable for the breach of contract of Mutu leading to the termination by Chelsea of his contract?

In this regard, Chelsea considers that Article 14.3 “is designed to protect contractual stability by means of a deterrent, namely by ensuring that the parties who benefit from the player's breach – the player himself and his New Club – are not allowed to enjoy that benefit without paying compensation to the player's former club”.[22] While, Juventus and Livorno consider that “Article 14.3 – and FIFA regulations in general – are not meant to protect a club's bad investment”.[23] Which one of this two interpretations is EU law supporting? That is the question.

For the Panel “the Player was the author of his misfortune, but the Club was not required to terminate his employment if they still valued his services and preferred to hold him to his contract”. Indeed, “[t]he Club was entitled, not obliged, to dismiss him” and it “makes all the difference in terms of assessing the position of his subsequent employer(s) under the FIFA regulations, read in light of their object and purpose”.[24] As “Chelsea put an end to the Player's Employment Contract, no issue of contract stability, whose purpose was to safeguard the functioning and regularity of sporting competition, was at stake”.[25] Thus, “it strains logic for the club now to contend that the Appellants somehow enriched themselves by acquiring an asset (the player) which it chose to discard”.[26] Moreover, “the Panel finds it hard to understand how, in the name of contract stability, Chelsea's claim of € 17,173,990 against the Player is to be borne jointly and severally by the New Club, which has never expressed a specific agreement in this regard, had nothing to do with the Player's contractual breach, and was not even called to participate in the proceedings, which established the Awarded Compensation”.[27] Additionally, it seems “incongruous for Chelsea to try to seek an advantage from the fact that the New Club benefits from the Player’s services, whereas Chelsea was no longer interested in his service”.[28] Hence, “Chelsea's conduct appears to have had no other purpose than to increase its chances for greater financial compensation” and the Panel “does not see the connection between the damage being claimed and the interest of protecting legitimate contractual expectations”.[29] In other words, the interpretation of Article 14.3 RSTP supported by Chelsea does not fit the fundamental objective of this provision, as highlighted by its legislative context (mainly the Lethonen case of the CJEU and the Commission’s rejection decision in the competition law complaint against the FIFA transfer system) and cannot be followed.

Interestingly, the Panel also recognized that “[t]here must be a balance between the players’ fundamental right to free movement and the principle of stability of contracts, as supported by the legitimate objective of safeguarding the integrity of the sport and the stability of championships”.[30] In the present case, “[i]f the New Club had to pay compensation even if it is established that it bears no responsibility whatsoever in the breach of the Employment Contract, the player would be hindered from finding a new employer”.[31] Indeed, “it is not difficult to perceive that no New Club would be prepared to pay a multi-million compensation (or transfer fee), in particular for a player who was fired for gross misconduct, was banned for several months, and suffered drug problems”.[32] In short, “Chelsea's interpretation of Article 14.3 would bring the matter back into pre-Bosman times, when transfer fees obstructed the players' freedom of movement”.[33] This is unacceptable for the Panel. Had Chelsea’s interpretation been tolerated “the balance sought by the 2001 RSTP between the players' rights and an efficient transfer system, which responds to the specific needs of football and preserves the regularity and proper functioning of sporting competition would be upset”.[34] Consequently, this interpretation is deemed “incompatible with the fundamental principle of freedom to exercise a professional activity and is disproportionate to the protection of the old club's legitimate interests”.[35] Thus, the Panel concludes “that Article 14.3 does not apply in cases where it was the employer's decision to dismiss with immediate effect a player who, in turn, had no intention to leave the club in order to sign with another club and where the New Club has not committed any fault and/or was not involved in the termination of the employment relationship between the old club and the Player”.[36]

Conclusion

This award is of great interest, not so much for its solution - it is difficult to understand how the FIFA DRC could construct Article 14.3 RSTP as imposing a joint liability on Juventus and Livorno - as for the method used to reach it. The CAS had already in the past based its interpretation of the RSTP on its legislative history and especially on it being the result of a negotiation with the EU Commission in the aftermath of the Bosman ruling.[37] It is the first time, however, that it does so in such length and depth. This contextual reading of Article 14.3 tipped decisively the balance in favor of the appellants. Furthermore, it is a timely reminder for other CAS Panels that FIFA’s RSTP must be interpreted in conformity with EU law and especially the case law of the CJEU on the free movement of workers. If not, CAS awards will face problems at the enforcement stage, as highlighted by the recent SV Wilhelmshaven ruling of the OLG Bremen (see our comment here on the EU law dimension)[38]. This implies that the restrictions it imposes on the free movement of players must be justified by a legitimate objective recognized by the CJEU and be proportionate to attain this objective. In the present case, the interpretation of 14.3 promoted by the DRC runs counter to this requirement as it is not truly aimed at an acceptable legitimate objective and certainly not a proportionate mean to attain contractual stability. Nonetheless, this reasoning could also put into question previous interpretations of the FIFA RSTP. This is especially true for the case-law on the implementation of Article 17 RSTP. The Panel, conscious of the potential implication of the analysis used, is adamant that this case-law is compatible with an EU law conform interpretation. Yet, EU law scholars strongly oppose this view and it can be reasonably argued that the way damages are calculated in case of a breach of a contract under Article 17 is not compatible with the letter and spirit of EU law as applied to the transfer system in Bosman and after[39].

This case will set a resounding precedent for future CAS awards. Lawyers dealing with disputes involving the FIFA RSTP in front of the FIFA DRC and the CAS should take note of this development and introduce wider references to EU law in their briefs.


[1] For this article I have much profited from the outstanding research assistance of Thalia Diathesopoulou.

[2]G. Von Segesser, ‘Equality of Information and Impartiality of Arbitrators’, in P. Wautelet, T. Kruger, G. Coppens (eds), The Practice of Arbitration: Essays in Honour of Hans van Houtte

Hart, 2012, pp.45-51 and L. Beffa, ‘Challenge of International Arbitration Awards in Switzerland for Lack of Independence and/or Impartiality of an Arbitrator – Is it Time to Change the Approach?’ (2011) ASA Bulletin 598 et seq.

[3] CAS 2013/A/3365 & 3366, para 39.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid

[6]Ibid, para. 121-136

[7] Ibid, para. 131

[8] Ibid, para. 131

[9] Ibid, para. 131

[10] Ibid, para.137

[11] Ibid, para.138

[12] Ibid, para.139

[13]Ibid,  para.139

[14]Ibid, para.139

[15]Ibid, para.140

[16]Ibid, para.148

[17]Ibid, para.149

[18]Ibid, para.151

[19]Ibid, para.156

[20]Ibid, para.157

[21]Ibid, para.158

[22]Ibid, para.159

[23]Ibid, para.160

[24]Ibid, para. 161

[25]Ibid, para. 163

[26]Ibid, para. 163

[27]Ibid, para. 165

[28]Ibid, para. 166

[29]Ibid, para. 168

[30]Ibid, para. 169

[31]Ibid, para. 172

[32] Ibid

[33] Ibid, para.174

[34]Ibid, para.174

[35]Ibid, para.174

[36]Ibid,  para.177

[37] ‘It must be remembered that the FIFA Regulations have been issued to regulate the legal and economic aspects of the transfer of players in accordance with the principle of free movement of workers as established by the EC treaty and substantiated by the European Court of Justice in its ruling of 15 December 1995 (case C-415/93), thereby taking the specific needs of professional football into account. In this context, any provisions in the FIFA regulations affecting the player’s freedom of movement should be interpreted narrowly.’ CAS 2004/A/691 FC Barcelona SAD v. Manchester United FC, para. 38; ‘However, the principle behind Art. 5 para. 5 of the Application Regulations is clear: the free movement of workers within the EU/EEA must not be restricted by the imposition of a requirement for the payment of sums by way of compensation for training and education in respect of a player to whom the training club does not offer a contract. In such a case, the failure to offer a contract is an important factor in the assessment of compensation. The compensation payable should not be of such an amount as would impede the player’s ability to move to a new club.’ CAS 2006/A/1125 Hertha BSC Berlin v. Stade Lavallois Mayenne FC, award of 1 December 2006, para. 25; ‘Finally, because of the potentially high amounts of compensation involved, giving clubs a regulatory right to the market value of players and allowing lost profits to be claimed in such manner would in effect bring the system partially back to the pre-Bosman days when players’ freedom of movement was unduly hindered by transfer fees and their careers and well-being could be seriously affected by them becoming pawns in the hands of their clubs and a vector through which clubs could reap considerable benefits without sharing the profit or taking corresponding risks. In view of the text and the history of article 17 par. 1 of the FIFA Status Regulations, allowing any form of compensation that could have such an effect would clearly be anachronistic and legally unsound.’ CAS 2007/A/1298 Wigan Athletic FC v/ Heart of Midlothian & CAS 2007/A/1299 Heart of Midlothian v/ Webster & Wigan Athletic FC & CAS 2007/A/1300 Webster v/ Heart of Midlothian, para. 81.

[38] A. Duval, ‘The Court of Arbitration for Sport  and EU law: Chronicle of an Encounter’, Maastricht Journal of European and Comparative Law, forthcoming.

[39] See, R. Parrish, ‘Article 17 of the FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players: Compatibility with EU Law ‘Maastricht Journal of European and Comparative Law, forthcoming. See also, Pearson, G. (2015), Sporting Justifications under EU Free Movement and Competition Law: The Case of the Football ‘Transfer System’. European Law Journal, 21: 220–238.

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