European football law recap: Vitesse & Chelsea links, Barce's transfer ban, Cardiff's rights to identity, and World Cup Stadia concernsAdam Lovatt, Thomas Gibby
In this week's European Football Law Blog Adam Lovatt and Thomas Gibby provide a recap of the football law news from around Europe including: alterations to traditional pub opening hours during 2014 World Cup England matches; KNVB’s investigation into the links between Vitesse Arnhem and Chelsea F.C.; FC Barcelona’s transfer ban; request filed for a legal right to protect a club’s identity; and, another construction worker’s death in Brazil.
Pub Licences for the World Cup
The Home Office has announced that pubs in England will be granted an extension to their traditional opening hours for World Cup matches involving England. The traditional closing time for pubs in England is 23:00.
The Home Office announcement means that pubs will be able to stay open until 01:00 for the match against Italy in the group stages of the tournament in Brazil, to be played on Saturday 14 June.
The announcement represents a u-turn by the government, which had previously announced that there would be no national extension of pub opening hours, as the World Cup was not seen as a unique event such as the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations which merited extended opening hours.
If England qualify for the knock-out stages of the World Cup, pubs will also have the right to apply for an extension of their license beyond 11pm for those matches involving England, in order that fans can stay in the pubs to watch, and maybe even celebrate, the result of the games.
World Cup Construction Work Death
FIFA have had to answer more questions this week regarding the safety of the construction workers who are attempting to complete the twelve stadiums in Brazil in advance of the World Cup commencing.
An eighth construction worker working on the stadia to be used for the Finals has died while installing temporary seating at the Sao Paulo Arena (the third such death at that stadium alone). This is the seventh construction related death ahead of the Finals across Brazil, with one worker dying after suffering a heart attack on site.
The Sao Paulo Arena is due to host the opening match of the World Cup between Brazil and Croatia on 12 June, with the Brazilian Development Bank releasing two thirds of a $160million loan early last week to help ensure completion of the stadium ahead of the opening match. However, the cost to human life in ensuring that the stadia to be used for the tournaments are ready for June is a real dark cloud for FIFA hanging over the event, and appears to be being suppressed so as not to undermine the Brazilian spectacle.
There is a prevailing view that the need to ensure compliance with deadlines to meet the needs of the media and sponsors is compromising safety and costing lives. FIFA has, as yet, failed to fully address this or condemn Brazil for its failure to comply with what appears to be basic health and safety requirements and the safety of workers.
Links between two clubs under investigation
The Board of Directors at the Dutch Football Association (KNVB) have contacted Eredivisie side Vitesse Arnhem to seek further information about the club’s ownership structure. Reports have emerged that former majority shareholder, Merab Jordania, had been ‘‘unduly influenced’’ by Chelsea to prevent Vitesse qualifying for the UEFA Champions League. Last July, Ajax sporting director Marc Overmars reported that his club had been denied the opportunity to speak to Vitesse about one of their youth players (Marco van Ginkel) due to a ‘co-operation agreement’ in place between Chelsea and the Dutch club. Links have already been made between this agreement and former manager Fred Rutten’s departure from Vitesse last summer.
A close playing relationship already exists between the clubs, with four Chelsea players (van Aanholt, Piazon, Traore, Atsu) on loan at Vitesse, with two further players (Kakuta, Hutchinson) recently recalled. Current club owner Alexander Chigrinsky is reportedly an associate of Chelsea F.C. owner, Roman Abramovich. UEFA rules however currently prohibit two clubs under the same ownership from participating in the same competition.
Vitesse currently sit third in Dutch top division. Chelsea have declined to comment publicly on the matter at this stage.
Right to protect club identity
The Cardiff City Supporters’ Trust has written to the FA requesting that steps be taken to protect a club’s identity, history and tradition. They seek a ‘‘formal, independent and transparent’’ process of approval on the part of the supporters, and the addition of club crests/badges and colours to a list of ‘protected elements’.
In a letter to FA Chairman, Greg Dyke, and Chief Executives, Richard Scudamore and Shaun Harvey, the Trust has set out its grievances and requested that future rebrands and name changes receive prior FA approval. The letter enclosed a recent annual survey that revealed 85% of the 1,000 participants were opposed to the club’s rebrand from blue to red in June 2012.
Currently, under FA Rule A3(l) any club competing in any of the divisions of English football that wishes to change its name must submit a written application by 1 April each calendar year to be considered by an FA Council for approval. The Council will then make a recommendation either to accept or reject the proposal, as it did in March over Hull City’s proposed name change to Hull City Tigers. The Cardiff City Trust believes that the current process does not go far enough.
In March 2014, The Hatters’ Supporters Group Trust, which holds shares in Luton Town on behalf of their fans, gave the club’s fans the final say over amendments to the club’s name, nickname, badge/crest and kit colours, which is a primitive legal right to protect identity.
Barcelona’s 14-month global transfer ban
F.C. Barcelona have received a global transfer ban from FIFA, imposed until summer 2015 (a total of 14 months) and a fine of GBP£300,000 for breaches of international transfer rules for minors.
FIFA’s applicable rules, and the imposed sanctions, are to protect minors on social, educational and legal levels. Regulation 19(1) of the Status and Transfer of Players Regulations (STPRs) prohibits the international transfer of players under 18 unless:
The player’s parents move (for non-football reasons) to the same country that the purchasing club is located;
The transfer is from one EU member state to another (and the player is 16 or over and the purchasing club guarantees education and optimum living standards); or
The distance between the player’s domicile and the purchasing club is no more than 100km.
Under Reg. 19(4) the purchasing club’s member association must then apply to the Players’ Status Committee for approval in the form of an international transfer certificate.
FIFA had been investigating a number of registered participating players between 2009 and 2013 and found that both the club and the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) were guilty of a ‘‘serious’’ infringement of the above rules in relation to 10 players. The RFEF also received a fine of £340,000.
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- Tags: Barcelona | Brazil | Dutch Football Association (KNVB) | FIFA | FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players | The FA | UEFA | United Kingdom (UK) | World Cup
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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.