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Why FIFA needs to provide a specific regulatory framework for football coaches (the difficulties in resolving club-coach disputes and the application of Swiss law)

Football Coach
Wednesday, 18 September 2019 By Josep F. Vandellos Alamilla

One of the primary issues affecting disputes between football coaches and their clubs is the lack of an applicable regulatory framework. The FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players (RSTP) do not directly apply to coaches/managers (a point confirmed in recent decisions1 of both the FIFA Players’ Status Committee (PSC) and the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS2)), and there are no other specific intra-federation regulations governing their status.

In the author’s experience this situation is causing considerable difficulties in terms of consistency and expectations when it comes to trying to resolve club-coach disputes – typically relating to termination of employment – before the PSC and CAS. Part of the problem is that many of the employment contracts expressly refer to disputes being settled “in accordance with FIFA regulationsorin accordance with the RSTP” (or words to that effect). The parties (and practitioners) therefore presume that they have the backing of a flexible and sport-specific regulatory framework, when in fact they do not. The reality is that Swiss law can end up being applied in default, leading to unexpected and unsatisfactory outcomes for the parties.

Drawing on the author’s experiences, this article examines club-coach disputes before the PSC and CAS (i.e. those with an international dimension) and looks at the current misconceptions regarding the application of FIFA regulations, why Swiss law can be applied in default, and the problems that this can lead to for the parties.

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Josep F. Vandellos Alamilla

Josep F. Vandellos Alamilla

Josep is an independent lawyer with extensive experience in international sports law. During the last ten years his practice has entirely focused in representing athletes, clubs, national associations, agents and coaches in front of the different dispute resolution bodies and the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne (Switzerland). He also advises his clients on a regular basis in contract drafting and negotiations.

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