CAS 2019/A/6639 Hellas Verona FC v. Latvian Football Federation (LFF) & JFC Skonto

CAS 2019/A/6639 Hellas Verona FC v. Latvian Football Federation (LFF) & JFC Skonto
  1. FIFA Statutes define a club as “a member of an association (that is a member association of FIFA) or a member of a league recognised by a member association that enters at least one team in a competition”. If a club entered teams in a youth championship organized by the member association, the conditions to be considered a club are satisfied.

  2. According to Annexe 3, Art. 1, para. 5 of the FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players (RSTP), the use of the FIFA Transfer Matching System (TMS) is only a mandatory step for international transfers of professional players. Mutatis mutandis, only clubs involved in international transfers must use the TMS. If a club is not involved in any international transfer, it has no obligation to be registered on the TMS.

  3. Under Swiss law, standing to sue/be sued (“légitimation active/passive”) is characterized as a matter of substantive law (as opposed to procedural): i.e. a party has standing to sue or to be sued if a substantive right of its own is concerned by the claim. Therefore, if a club is alleging to have a substantive right of its own, it has standing to sue in front of FIFA. This conclusion is not affected by the fact that, in accordance with Annexe 6, Article 1 para. 1 RSTP, it is the national association that enters the claim in the TMS in case the club does not have a TMS account.

  4. 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 circumvent, for example, the payment of training compensation. A bridge transfer has three main characteristics: (1) it is made for no apparent sporting reason; (2) there are three clubs involved: (i) the club where the player was firstly registered, (ii) the “bridge club”, usually a club of a lower level, (iii) the final club of destination; and (3) the player is engaged with the bridge club for a short period of time and frequently does not play any match at all with this club. In this regard, the 2020 edition of the RSTP provides that it shall be presumed, unless established to the contrary, that if two consecutive transfers, national or international, of the same player occur within a period of 16 weeks, the parties (clubs and player) involved in those two transfers have participated in a bridge transfer.

  5. To justify entitlement to training compensation, the training club should show a bona fide interest in retaining the services of the player for the future. At the same time, it would be unreasonable to require a club, notably an amateur club, to focus on all its young amateur players for whom training compensation might be paid by a third football club and consequently to make formal offers to all those players in order to avoid the risk of forfeiting all rights to training compensation. It would be too costly and it would contravene the spirit and purpose of the FIFA transfer rules, which are set out in order to grant to clubs the necessary financial and sportive incentives to invest in training and education of young players. The aims of sporting justice shall not be defeated by an overly formalistic interpretation of the FIFA Regulations which would deviate from their original intended purpose.

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