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The validity of FIFA’s arbitration clause and the independence of the CAS: A detailed review of the RFC Seraing cases

Arbitration agreements and football players on field
Thursday, 04 October 2018 By Dr Despina Mavromati

This article explains the disciplinary and competition law proceedings relating to RFC Seraing and the third-party ownership (TPO) contracts that they concluded with Doyen Sports Investment Limited (Doyen Sports).

There are two sets of proceedings: one initiated by Doyen Sports and Seraing before the Belgian courts challenging the legality of FIFA’s TPO ban; and the other initiated by the FIFA Disciplinary Committee against Seraing for violation of the FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players (RSTP), subsequently appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and then the Swiss Federal Tribunal and the Liège Tribunal (Seraing’s home province).

Specifically, this article looks at:

  • The facts of the case;

  • The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) Panel’s award of 9 March 2017;

  • The findings of the Swiss Federal Tribunal (SFT);

    • Legality of CAS;

    • The Parties’ Positions;

    • The SFT’s findings (“Lazutina II”?);

    • The alleged violation of the parties’ right to be heard’

    • Competition law, excessive commitments and substantive public policy;

  • The Brussels Court of Appeal’s decision;

  • Key takeaways;

  • A chronological overview of the proceedings.

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Despina Mavromati

Dr Despina Mavromati

Dr. Despina Mavromati is an attorney at the Swiss law firm BianchiSchwald and an arbitrator at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). She has extensive experience in international sports law and arbitration. She represents athletes, clubs and federations and advises on regulatory and sports governance matters, including the recognition and enforcement of awards and freezing of assets in Switzerland. Despina has acted as counsel, co-counsel, expert or arbitrator in numerous sports arbitrations, involving contractual, governance, doping-related and other disciplinary and ethics matters. Recognized as a Thought Leader by Who’s Who Legal in Switzerland every year since 2018, “Despina Mavromati is “brilliant and accomplished” and “an amazing lawyer with immense knowledge and expertise when it comes to disputes before the CAS” (Who’s Who Legal 2023).

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