Bayern President tax case, players betting regs, BSKYB win IP case and more
European football law update 12 March 2014Adam Lovatt, Thomas Gibby
Uli Hoeness – evasion or avoidance?
A hot political topic in Western countries since 2008 has been tax evasion; or more critically, the distinction between ‘avoidance’ and ‘evasion’.
This case has triggered great public interest and a heated debate in Germany on the issues of lenient treatment for public figures and whether confessions and subsequent settlement of unpaid taxes entitles tax evaders to immunity from jail.
In Germany, Bayern Munich F.C.'s President Uli Hoeness appeared before a Munich judge on Monday accused of tax evasion. According to the prosecution, the President has failed to:
- declare his earnings in two Swiss bank accounts (a total of €33.5m (US$46.5m) worth of German income) used to fund dealings on global stock and currency markets;
- meet a tax liability of €3.5m on those earnings between 2003 and 2009; and
- accurately declare his losses up to €5.5m.
Hoeness has now admitted a tax liability closer to €18.5m. The Bayern President, elected to come forward when the German media discovered his account and threatened to take the story public; flouting the President's intention to admit guilt privately and quickly repay the tax due (plus a percentage interest and a fine). He consequently filed an amended tax return in January 2013 that publicly disclosed his financial affairs voluntarily.
Nonetheless, prosecutors argue that this was incomplete. If this proven and Hoeness found guilty he could face up to 14 years in jail. This trial comes at a time when, according to the Guardian, "German authorities have been aggressive with tax-evaders in recent years".
The club and its fans have backed their President, who offered to suspend his club duties pending a verdict.
Update 13 March 2013: Hoeness has been sentenced to jail for 3 and a half years for tax evasion - https://www.isportconnect.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=25743&catid=58&Itemid=167
Match betting – a spate of player misconduct?
On Monday 10th Newcastle United midfielder Dan Gosling admitted an FA misconduct charge relating to ''multiple breaches'' of FA betting rules. He becomes the latest in a line of English professional footballers that includes Andros Townsend (Tottenham & England); Cameron Jerome (Crystal Palace); Robert Heys (Accrington Stanley Managing Director) and Andy Yiadom (Barnet) to cross this line. All received four or five-figure fines coupled with lengthy playing suspensions from the FA for breaching these rules.
Specifically, the player has been charged with breaching FA Rule E8(b) which prohibits players (et al) from betting (directly or indirectly) on the ''result, progress or conduct'' of a match in which that person is (or has) participated in that season. Critically, ''playing'' a match covers matches played by the player's club, regardless of whether the player actually made an appearance on the pitch (or even made the bench).
The FA operates strict betting rules that forbid gambling on a wide spectrum of fixtures. The player has consequently requested a personal hearing (date TBD).
Record ban for manager
An independent FA commission has imposed a record seven-game ban on Newcastle United F.C. manager Alan Pardew. The punishment, consisting of a total stadium ban over the next three games, a touchline ban for the following four games, a fine of £60,000 and a warning as to his future conduct, for headbutting Hull City F.C. midfielder David Meyler on 1 March.
The manager, who '' the unprecedented incident and ''wholeheartedly'' apologised to all parties for his conduct, accepted both the initial FA misconduct charge on 3 March and the punishment. The club already fined the manager £100,000 after this ''unacceptable'' incident, the latest in a series of indiscretions that includes verbal abuse of another Premier League manager (Jan '14), pushing a linesman (Aug. '12) and inappropriate excessive celebrations (Nov. '06).
The punishment reflects the ''serious violence and aggression'' shown in the incident.
Another racism case
As reported in last week's blog, racism has been a much discussed topic in British football over recent times and sadly it is in the headlines again following an incident in the League One match between Walsall and Wolves at the weekend.
It is alleged that Carl Ikeme and George Elokobi were both subjected to racial abuse at the Bank's Stadium (Walsall England) on Saturday from a section of the home support. The alleged abuse was directed at Elokobi as he was warming up during the first half and at Ikeme, from the same end of the ground, during the second half.
The Football Association have been made aware of the alleged abuse and it will be interesting to see how or if they decide to discipline Walsall should the allegations be proven.
BSKYB Success in IP Case
A judge in the Court of Session in Scotland has ruled that a Glasgow pub, which showed live football matches broadcast on Sky Sports without permission to do so, was in breach of copyright.
The pub had shown a Scottish league match between Celtic and Ross County following which Sky had successfully obtained an interim interdict preventing the broadcast of any further matches. The interim interdict was served upon the manager of the pub and his daughter two hours prior to a World Cup Qualifier between Scotland v Belgium and sought to prevent the broadcast of further matches whilst the issue of potential copyright infringement was investigated. Despite receiving the interim interdict, the pub showed the international qualifier.
Sky successfully argued in Court that the pub did not have the right to show matches in terms of the viewing card used to access the requisite channel. The Court is still to determine the fate of the pub manager and his daughter in terms of ignoring the terms of the interim interdict, but the case shows the dangers of pubs showing football to a commercial audience without the correct credentials being in place and that copyright in the broadcast of a football match lies with the broadcaster.
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- Tags: Anti-Corruption | Football | Gambling | Germany | Governance | Intellectual Property | Racism | Regulation | Scotland
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About the Author
Adam is a lawyer specialising in sports law with IMG. Adam has a wide range of commercial and litigation experience from his four years as a qualified solicitor. Adam has a passion for sports law and is currently undertaking a IP Law Masters programme with the University of London. He is passionate about most sports particularly football, golf and tennis.
Thomas is a Solicitor in Kerman & Co’s sports team. Thomas is predominantly a commercial contracts lawyer who advises the team’s biggest sporting clients and major event organisers on a range of their commercial issues, including working in-house at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. His experience includes advising on data and consumer protection, IT/software development and procurement contracts.