National Law in International Sports Disputes

National Law in International Sports Disputes
The law applying to a (sports-related) dispute can often be the decisive factor in the outcome of such a dispute. Nevertheless, and despite its critical importance, the applicable law is also an element that is quickly overlooked by the respective parties and, most unfortunately, the parties’ representatives and/or lawyers. This situation happens all the more frequently in international sports law disputes where the regulations of international bodies, such as FIFA and World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), are often deemed to have an unchallengeable status. The focus of this article is not on providing a summary of which laws can, theoretically, be applied in each kind of international sports-related dispute.[1] Rather, its emphasis is on two practical cases whose outcomes were or could have been totally different depending on the (non-) application of specific national laws.

Company X v. Football Club A[2]

This dispute relates to the transfer of a Serbian football player from Serbian Football Club A to Belgian Football Club B in the summer of 2013. The transfer fee for this move was comprised of both (i) a fixed amount of EUR 5,000,000 and (ii) 20% of the added value in the event of a subsequent transfer from Football Club B to a third club. In this context, a service agreement was signed between Company X and Football Club A, in which Company X, through its players’ agents,[3] provided legal, administrative and technical assistance to Football Club A relating to the transfer. Company X’s remuneration for providing these services was calculated as an amount of 10% of the transfer fee received by Football Club A from...

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