Introducing “Moral damages” for terminating a football player’s contract: lessons from Ariosa v. Club Olympia

Published 19 August 2015 By: John Mehrzad

Football player standing on the centre spot

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (the “CAS”) in Ariosa v. Club Olympia1 has for the first time introduced into the scope of compensation due to players following a termination without “just cause2 by their club the concept of “moral damages”. The decision also found that the broad regulatory concept of “specificity of sport3 can be applied to increase compensation to a player when a club’s conduct has been so serious as to undermine the “sporting ethics” of football.

Although Press headlines4 have focused on Sebastian Ariosa’s appalling treatment by his former club, Club Olympia of Paraguay, whilst undergoing chemotherapy for cancer, it is the widening of the scope of compensation available to players in response to a termination without “just cause” which will be of greatest interest to legal advisers.

This article proposes to look at the facts of the case, the decisions before the FIFA Dispute Resolution Chamber (the “DRC”) and then CAS, before considering to what extent the decision really sets down a precedent for future player contract disputes?

Before doing so, it is the essential theses of this article that:

  1. Far from opening up a new avenue of compensation for players, “moral damages” will be very rarely awarded in practice and, in any event, how such compensation is calculated is unclear; and,

  2. The use of “specificity of sport” for the benefit of players is not a novel concept but, rather, is likely to be more readily applied by CAS in the future to “fit” the particular circumstances of each case to ensure proper justice is done to the player “victim”.  



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John Mehrzad

John Mehrzad

John is recognised as a leading barrister specialised in employment, commercial and sports law, practising from Littleton Chambers where he is the Head of the Sports Law Group.

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