European Football Sports Law News 10 Feb 2014
Offensive banners at Celtic Park
The Scottish Professional Football League has found that an offensive banner was displayed by Celtic fans during a home match against Aberdeen in November 2013.
The banner was demmed to be offensive and in breach of league rules. However, as Celtic has taken ‘all reasonably practical steps’ to prevent the banner display, the club was found not to be in breach of league rules and no penalty has been imposed against the club. Earlier this season, Celtic were fined £42,500 by UEFA for failing to prevent the display of illicit banners during a home Champions League match against AC Milan.
Investigation into Neymar transfer
On 3 June 2013 Spanish club F.C. Barcelona signed 21-year-old Brazilian forward Neymar from Brazilian club Santos F.C. The reported fee was €57m.
But behind this figure, a number of discreet agreements had apparently been struck with connected organisations, leading to the figures and destination of the money involved in the deal recently being challenged by Barcelona club member Jordi Cases, who filed a legal complaint. Spain's public prosecutor has now requested that the courts consider a case of ''simulated contracts'' and potential misappropriation of funds against the club's [now former] President.
According to the club's published accounts, €17m moved from Barcelona to Santos; with the remaining €40m paid to a company (N&N) owned by the player's parents. An upfront payment of €10m (part of the €40m) went to N&N as a deposit to guarantee completion but was filed in the club's 2012 accounts as an interest-free loan. It is also alleged that a Brazilian commercial agent (Fundacio Neymar Jr.) linking the player's image to Brazilian clubs, and Santos academy, were parties to parallel deals. These revelations have prompted DIS Esporte, a player investment fund that held 40% of the player's transfer rights whilst he was at Santos, to consider legal action.
Despite the club's [former] President, Sandro Rosell, professing his innocence and publicly backing the ''complex'' deal as one of ''impeccable'' contractual mechanics (in itself not a crime), he resigned in the wake of the appointed Judge seeking more information from both clubs, the player and FIFA, including a number of related transfer documents.
The club has described the €40m as a 'penalty clause' to prevent any possible hijacking of the deal. Alternatively, it could be the biggest signing bonus in the history of global sport. This saga is the latest to expose the pitfalls of third-party player ownership.
Luc Castaignos – forged transfer
Transfer deadline day never fails to provide remarkable stories. The climax to January 2014 window was no exception.
On 28 January English Premier League (EPL) club Tottenham Hotspur F.C. received a document offering the transfer of Luc Castaignos (of Dutch Eredivisie club F.C. Twente) to them.
Tottenham were contacted by a Croatian middle-man saying that he had been authorised to act on the Dutch club's behalf to arrange the transfer of the player to them. A document, purporting to have been signed by the Dutch club's chairman, was presented to the club.
The two clubs have worked together previously with the transfers of Moussa Dembele and Nacer Chadli in 2012 and 2013 respectively. Consequently, Tottenham alerted the Dutch club to the situation promptly.
The matter, a case of the forgery of a chairman's signature, has been reported by the Dutch football employers' organisation FBO, to Dutch football's governing body KNVB, with a request to refer it higher to UEFA and FIFA. Three agents have reportedly received warnings.
The player, formerly of Inter Milan and capped for his country at under-21 level, is a highly rated talent.
- Why football transfers should be conditional to a payment
- Third party ownership – to ban or not to ban?
- Third party player ownership (TPPO): Legitimate financing mechanism or threat to sporting integrity?
- The enforceability of pre-contracts in football
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.