30 April 2014 - The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has issued its decision in the arbitration procedure between Legia Warszawa SA (the “Club”) and UEFA. The CAS has dismissed Legia Warszawa’s appeal and confirmed the decision issued on 14 August 2014 by the UEFA Appeals Body.
The UEFA Control and Disciplinary Body (UEFA CEBD) primarily found the Club to have breached the UEFA Champions League Regulations and UEFA Disciplinary Regulations by selecting a player serving a disciplinary suspension, Bartosz Bereszynski, to take part in the second leg of the third round qualifier against Celtic FC. The UEFA CEBD declared the match Celtic FC v. Legia Warszawa played on 6 August 2014 as forfeit and deemed Legia Warszawa to have lost the match 3:0 meaning that the Club would exit the competition. The Club appealed such decision to the UEFA Appeals Body, which dismissed the appeal.
On 15 August 2015, Legia Warszawa filed an appealto the CAS to overturn the UEFA decisions, as well as an urgent request for provisional measures, requesting provisional admittance to the 2014/2015 UEFA Champions League matches while the CAS proceedings were in progress. The President of the CAS Appeals Arbitration Division denied Legia Warszawa’s request for provisional measures. The arbitration procedure was referred to a panel of CAS arbitrators: Mr Manfred Nan, the Netherlands (President), Prof. Ulrich Haas, Germany, and Mr Fabio Iudica, Italy. The Panel heard the parties at a hearing held at the CAS Court Office on 28 January 2015.
Legia Warszawa argued that the UEFA rules and guidelines surrounding the need to include Bartosz Bereszynski’s name on the official list submitted to UEFA were unclear and amounted to “excessive formalism” and that the sanction was disproportionate. The Club also sought financial compensation of EUR 1,854,385. UEFA, in turn, explained the relevant rules and circular letter in order to demonstrate why a player needs to be registered to serve a suspension, and noted that Legia Warszawa had followed the correct procedure on a previous occasion.
The CAS Panel found that UEFA’s requirement that only listed players can serve pending suspensions did not constitute excessive formalism and that it was compulsory for the club to list the player in order for him to serve his suspension. The Panel further found that Legia Warszawa’s violation of this requirement constituted a disciplinary infringement justifying the imposition of a disciplinary sanction, and that UEFA’s decision to declare the Club’s match against Celtic FC to be lost by forfeit was not disproportionate. In view of the foregoing, the Panel found that it was not necessary to address the claim for compensation.
The Arbitral Award will be published on the CAS website in due course.