Five top tips to help understand the FIFA Appeal Committee and its procedures
The FIFA Appeal Committee (AC), gets usually less attention than the FIFA Dispute Resolution Chamber or the Players' Status Committee since it is competent for disciplinary cases only, that hardly make the headlines. But recent cases like the Barcelona transfer ban or the Suarez affair putted the organ into the spotlight.
Therefore here are five useful tips to help you understand its jurisdiction and procedure.
The AC is one of FIFA´s “judicial bodies”1 together with the Disciplinary Committee and the Ethics Committee. It is composed by a chairman, a deputy chairman and 12 members. The AC shall pass its decisions with at least three members, except for exceptional cases where the chairman may rule alone. Members are appointed by the Executive Committee for a period of 8 years and only the chairman shall have legal qualifications (art.81 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code2 “FDC”).
According to article 85 of the FDC the Committee is independent and shall not receive instructions from any other FIFA body. The FDC imposes strict limitations in relation to participation in the decision-making process. Members of the AC must decline to participate in a case if there are serious grounds for questioning their impartiality. For example:
“if the member in question has a direct interest in the outcome of the matter; if he is associated with any of the parties; if he has the same nationality as the party implicated (the association, club, official, player etc.) orif he has already dealt with the case under different circumstances.” - art.87 FDC
The AC has jurisdiction for any decision passed by the Disciplinary Committee, except for “small” measures like warnings, reprimands, suspensions for fewer than three matches or of up to two months, fines of up to CHF 15,000 imposed on an association or club or up to CHF 7,500 in other cases and sanctions derived from the failure to respect FIFA or TAS/CAS decisions, as provided for in art. 64 of the FDC which are directly appealable to TAS/CAS.
There is a loophole in relation to small fines. Because of its pecuniary nature, they are appealable to TAS/CAS irrespective of their amount (art.67 of the FIFA Statutes) and an appeal to TAS/CAS is in principle cheaper than an appeal to the AC (CHF 1.000 vs CHF 3.000).
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Ariel is a lawyer in Argentina focused exclusively on the sports sector, mainly the football industry. He has particular experience advising on third party player ownership issues, player´s transfers and international sports disputes before FIFA and CAS. He has also spoken at conferences on these issues in Argentina and at international level.