Academic journal article The International Sports Law Journal

The Unilateral Extension Option through the Eyes of FIFA DRC and CAS

Academic journal article The International Sports Law Journal

The Unilateral Extension Option through the Eyes of FIFA DRC and CAS

Article excerpt

Introduction

The extension option is the right of the player and/or the club to extend the employment contract for a certain period of time which is stipulated by the parties in an employment contract. There are many kinds of extension options. We have the reciprocal extension option in favour of the player and the club in which both parties are entitled to prolong the employment contract for a certain predetermined period and there is the unilateral extension option only in favour of one of the parties. In the daily practice of international professional football, we usually find unilateral extension options solely in favour of the club.

After the Bosman-case of 1995 (1), in which the European Court of Justice decided that transfer compensation to be paid by a club for a player who had ended his contractual relationship with his former club was not permitted and was in violation with the free movement of people within the European Union. From that moment on, the clubs had to prevent the situation whereby their professional football player came to the end of their contracts and were able to leave for free. Therefore, the use of the unilateral extension option in favour of the clubs increased substantially.

At international level there is uncertainty regarding the validity of the unilateral extension option. For example, in South-America, where the unilateral extension option was very popular (and in some countries still is), as result of the general disputable validity of this clause, developments can be noticed that the unilateral extension option is disappearing in some countries. One can also notice from a recently published report that in Chili the unilateral extension option is totally banned, in Uruguay the option only still exists because the players' union disagrees with an absolute disappearance of the unilateral extension option and in Argentina the option can only be inserted in the contracts of players beneath 21 years old and only for the duration of a maximum period of three years. (2)

The Dispute Resolution Chamber of FIFA (hereinafter DRC) as well as the Court of Arbitration for Sport (hereinafter CAS), as being the authoritative committees at international level in the world of professional football, provided the football world with several decisions related to this subject. With this article we trust to provide the international professional football world with a valuable survey of all relevant international jurisprudence from the DRC and CAS.

Structure article

This article will contain an extensive survey of all relevant decisions of the DRC and CAS related to the unilateral extension option. First the relevant decisions of the DRC will be discussed and analyzed. (3) The most important decisions will be discussed in a chronological course of time as from the first published decision in 2004 until now. Since parties have the possibility to appeal against decisions of the DRC before CAS, the decisions of CAS will also be analyzed and discussed. (4)

In the conclusion we summarize the general line the DRC and CAS stand for with respect to the unilateral extension option and will answer two important questions: What conclusions can be drawn from analyzing DRC and CAS jurisprudence and what can be expected from future DRC and CAS decisions?

Please note that this article is meant for anyone interested in this subject. Although this article has a scientific character, it must be emphasized that it is intended to have great value for the daily practice of international professional football. The reason we discuss the unilateral extension option throughout the eyes of DRC and CAS is a result of the increasing internationalization and importance of the decisions of these committees within the international field of professional football, which will also have its impact at national level (certainly at the long run), such as for national arbitrational courts. …

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