FIFA has suffered a damaging blow after a court ruled that the Swiss-based body’s imposition of CAS is illegal, opening the possibility of several legal challenges against the football governing body in ordinary law courts.
Several football cases ruled by CAS can now be challenged in ordinary law courts putting the game in utter chaos.
Several banned officials like Sepp Blatter, Michel Platini, Jerome Valcke and several others who feel unfairly treated by CAS will now head to court to try to overturn long term bans.
The Brussels Court of Appeals ruled that the statues of FIFA, UEFA, CAF and GFA imposing CAS as the final place for ruling on football matters is illegal.
The Belgian court ruled on a dispute between the Belgian club RFC Seraing on one side and FIFA and UEFA on the other.
The judge said FIFA cannot impose on Belgian club RFC Seraing any proceedings before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
The Brussels Court of Appeal said in a judgment published on Friday, August 31.
For the Belgian courts, the clauses of the statutes of FIFA, the European Union football (UEFA), CAF and national football federations imposing the use of the CAS are illegal.
This judgment is part of a dispute between the RFC Seraing and the investment fund Doyen Sports against FIFA, UEFA, the Belgian Football Union and FIFPro, the global union of football players .
The club had been sanctioned by FIFA for a contract called “third-party property” (cession of a portion of economic rights on a player), concluded with Doyen Sports, a practice banned since January 2015 by FIFA.
RFC Seraing and Doyen Sports had questioned the legality of a court of arbitration like the CAS which partly funded by FIFA.
The court, which is headquartered in Lausanne, confirmed in March 2017 the sanction of recruitment ban for four seasons imposed by FIFA on 4 September 2015 on RFC Seraing.
“FIFA and UEFA may be summoned before any state judge”
The Brussels Court of Appeal had ruled that the legality of CAS should be examined in relation to European law and the European Convention on Human Rights, and the ” general prohibition on ordinary courts “ issued by FIFA in disputes between a club and FIFA or UEFA.
In its judgment, the Court of Appeal considers that arbitration can only exist if there is a real consent of the parties.
Arbitration can not, therefore, relate generally to all disputes that may arise between the federations and a club or a player.
“Clearly, not only FIFA and UEFA can no longer hide behind the CAS, but they can be assigned to any state judge,” said RFC lawyers Seraing, adding: “In view of this judgment and for the future, it is illusory for the international federations to try to impose on everyone and for all an arbitration before the CAS. Moreover, regarding the past, it is highly likely that the validity of many awards rendered by the CAS may be called into question, because of the illegality of the clauses which imposed the jurisdiction of the CAS.”
On the merits of the case, the RFC Seraing and Doyen Sports request the lifting of the transfer ban imposed by FIFA. The debate will continue on 4 October.