Academic journal article The International Sports Law Journal

Regulations 5.3 and 5.4 of the FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players: A Case Study before the Court of Arbitration for Sport

Academic journal article The International Sports Law Journal

Regulations 5.3 and 5.4 of the FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players: A Case Study before the Court of Arbitration for Sport

Article excerpt

The status and transfer of football players has been a central issue and at the core of judicial intervention in important cases over a period of forty years. It would be pointless to mention the pioneer George Eastham and his successful application on the restraint of trade argument, back in 1964; or Jean-Marc Bosman and his desire and successful attempt to transform European sport in 1995. This article has not been written with an aim to analyse issues of comodification or commercialisation, but rather to test the application of the regulations in question by national federations and whether this application, violates European law.

This article concentrates on the author's interpretation of the current regulatory framework and it does not attempt to challenge the FIFA Regulations [the outcome would find the author in agreement with the intention of FIFA]. It rather attempts to challenge the application of the said Regulations by national federations and their attempt to circumvent specific decisions of the European Court of Justice and the Court of Arbitration for Sport. It raises issues of competition law, employment law, freedom of movement and issues of governance and regulation.

Before the legal analysis can be produced and an insight into the closing speech of the Appellant's counsel could be given, a factual analysis is imperative, as the reader will be able to appreciate the different dynamics in the application of the current regulatory framework. What follows is an insight into the Appellant's closing speech written for the hearing of this appeal.

The Facts

The Appellant's football player Mr Roman Wallner agreed terms with the Appellant and signed a contract of employment on January 28, 2008. Mr Wallner joined the Appellant on a free transfer, after completing his contractual responsibilities with FALKIRK FC, a club associated with the Scottish FA and participating in the Scottish Premier League (1). Upon such agreement Mr Wallner was selected to participate in the "Super League" [The Hellenic Premier League, thereafter the "Super League"] game between the Appellant and Respondent 2, on February 3, 2008. The Appellant won the game by the score of 1-0, thereby obtaining the three points according to the Laws of the Game of FIFA and Respondent 1. at this point, it is important to state that Respondent 2 had knowledge of the participation [and its particular circumstances] of Mr Wallner in the game that gave rise to the arbitration, as the list with the line up of the players of the two teams, was produced approximately 30 minutes before the start of the game.

Respondent 2 [Olympiakos FC] filed an Objection, 3 days after the end of the game, before the Disciplinary Committee of the Super League, against an alleged invalid participation of Mr Wallner in the game between the Appellant and Respondent 2 and Pursuant to Article 5.3 on the Status and Transfer of Players, which states:

  Players may be registered with a maximum of three clubs during one
  season. During this period, the player is only eligible to play
  official matches for two clubs. as an exception to this rule, a
  player moving between two clubs belonging to associations with
  overlapping seasons (i.e. start of the season in summer/autumn as
  opposed to winter/spring) may be eligible to play in official
  matches for a third club during the relevant season, provided he
  has fully complied with his contractual obligations towards his
  previous clubs. Equally, the provisions relating to the registration
  periods (article 6) as well as to the minimum length of a contract
  (article 18 paragraph 2) must be respected.

Further, Respondent 2 requested that the Appeal be allowed and a sanction to be imposed on the Appellant, Pursuant to Rule 23.11 of the Regulation of Professional Matches of Respondent 1. The Disciplinary Committee of the Super League allowed the Appeal, annulled the result and ordered that the game be played again. …

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