Since September 1, 2001, when the FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players, also known as RSTP, came into force, FIFA has provided the international football world with a legal basis. Through these rules FIFA has inserted three fundamental pillars to guarantee the contractual stability of players' employment contracts and regulate their international transfers more properly. It should bring more certainty in the football industry. The three pillars are: (i) contractual stability, (ii) protection of minors and (iii) two annual registration periods pre-established by the relevant association, i.e. one fixed in the end of the season and another in the middle of the season.
The main principle that safeguards the predictability of the football industry as well as equality of chances in planning sports activities, i.e. the registration period, has been recently breached in Brazilian football, which can dismantle, from now on, the whole doctrine of registration periods.
The Registration Periods in Brazil were stipulated by the CBF through Regulations named "RDP 02/2005". These Regulations laid down two periods per year during which players transferred from another National Association may be registered, one established from January 2 to March 25 and the other from August 3 to August 31. RDP 02/2005 was reiterated by Circular no. 534/2010, issued on July 12, 2010, expressly stating the following: "Please be informed that, pursuant to RDP no. 02/2005, the second player registration period shall be from August 3 to August 31 of the current year." (1)
On July 19, 2010, CBF anticipated the second Registration Period of the 2010 season without communicating the new dates to FIFA at least 12 months before they come into force, as provided in Article 6 of the RSTP and without informing the clubs previously about such modification.
On July 28 and August 5, 2010, at a knockout stage, the Sao Paulo Futebol Clube and Sport Club Internacional contested two play-offs for the semi-finals of Copa Santander Libertadores de America 2010.
Regarding the Regulations of Copa Santander Libertadores de America 2010 (article 10.6), "after the Second Phase of the competition, and no later than 48 hours before the semi-final, each club may substitute up to a total of three players from the initial list of 25 (twenty five)". (2)
It was only because of the above-mentioned modification in the rules that SC Internacional was able to register for the Copa Santander Libertadores de America three players transferred from other National Associations.
3. Governing Law
First of all, the law upon which this case is grounded is the last ver-sion of the RSTP which came into force on October 1, 2009 after its amendment was approved by the FIFA Executive Committee on September 29, 2009. In fact, Definition no. 8 of the RSTP is self-explanatory. It provides for the following: "Registration period: a period fixed by the relevant association in accordance with article 6".
Article 6 of the RSTP, specifically in its paragraph 2, stipulates that: "(...) The two registration periods for the season shall be communicated to FIFA at least 12 months before they come into force."
If a National Association fails to comply with such regulation, then FIFA will determine the dates for its registration periods as the National Association did not communicate FIFA about them on time and established the dates in disagreement with the spirit of the registration periods. (3) In accordance with the Commentary on the RSTP, page 21, definition 3, "the registration periods apply primarily to competitions with the participation of professional (...) players and are meant to regulate these competitions by safeguarding the sporting integrity of the ongoing championship".
In this respect, the extemporaneous anticipation of the second registration period by the CBF has a direct impact on the ongoing international championship, i. …