The João Palhinha Case: Portugal’s Arbitration Court reviews on-field referee decisions

Hand of A Referee With Yellow Card and Whistle
Tuesday, 06 July 2021 By Fernanda Duarte Marques

Recently, an appeal was submitted to the Portugal Arbitration Court for Sport (TAD) by a player challenging his one game suspension and fine for receiving five yellow cards in different games. It’s an important case because it is relating to an arbitral panel’s ability to review and potentially change decisions made by the referee on the field of play. The TAD eventually overturned the automatic suspension that applied for accumulating five yellow card, however, it did not overturn the fifth yellow card (which led to this dispute).

A footballer received a yellow card during a match in Portugal which was his fifth yellow card of the season resulting in a one-match automatic suspension who appealed this suspension before the TAD. The TAD upon assessing the incident and the field of play doctrine (discussed below) held that it had the jurisdiction to review the one match automatic suspension imposed by accumulation of yellow cards since it did not occur on the field of play. It then overturned the automatic suspension but did not overturn the yellow card that was displayed.

This article examines the facts and background of the case and the impact that it may have on the doctrine of field of play. For more information on the field of play doctrine, please see this article by Kevin Carpenter[1]. Specifically, this article examines:

  • Facts of the case
  • The decision
  • Analysis of the application of the field of play doctrine

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Fernanda Duarte Marques

Fernanda Duarte Marques

Fernanda is a football lawyer (specialist in football contract law and football tax law). Invited Professor at Autonomous University of Lisbon (Football Law), PhDc of Law (Lisbon Faculty of Law, FDL), MSc of Management (Lisbon Business School, ISG), with scientific research and academic theses in professional football. She is the author of several papers on professional football (including contract law, procedural law, EU competition law, media law, national and international federation law).

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