FIFA's TPO ban: an in-depth analysis of the CAS award of 9 March 2017 (CAS 2016/A/4490 ASBL Royal Football Club Seraing v. FIFA)

FIFA's TPO ban: an in-depth analysis of the CAS award of 9 March 2017 (CAS 2016/A/4490 ASBL Royal Football Club Seraing v. FIFA)

This award affirms the validity of the third-party ownership (TPO) ban issued by FIFA in Article 18ter of the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players 2016 and its conformity to EU Law. Partly applying the proportionality test, established by European case law, the CAS Panel decided that even if there were violations of the European fundamental principles of freedoms of movement, establishment, services and capitals as well as competition law, they were justified by the legitimate objectives invoked by FIFA. Hence, it seems that the Panel did not follow through to the end of this test.

The factual background

The dispute opposes the ASBL Royal Football Club Seraing (the “Club”) and FIFA on a case relating to the ban of the TPO practice issued by FIFA in December 2014.

In January 2015, RFC Seraing and Doyen Sports Investment Limited, a major stakeholder in the football market, signed a Cooperation Agreement, according to which the Club would transfer to Doyen the economic rights of three of its players against a payment of EUR 300,000. The FIFA TMS, who manages the Transfer Matching System and regulates the international transfers of players, requested from the Club copy of these agreements.

In July 2015, FIFA Disciplinary Committee Secretary opened a disciplinary procedure against RFC Seraing for violation of Articles 18bis and 18ter of the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players (RSTP).

Nevertheless, RFC Seraing entered a process before...

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