Full case report

Chelsea FC v Mutu (CAS)

Reference CAS 2006/A/1192
Court Court of Arbitration for Sport

Judge Argand (President), Leaver and Barak (arbitrators)

Date of Judgment 21 May 2007


Summary

Sports law – Football – Breach of contract – Compensation – Appropriate regulations – Standing – Article 42, 2001 FIFA Regulations – Jurisdiction to determine compensation


Facts

M was a professional football player employed by CFC. On 28 October 2004 CFC terminated his contract with immediate effect after the FA declared that he had failed a targeted drug test. The FA later banned him from playing for 7 months; FIFA made this ban worldwide.

M appealed to the Board of Directors of the FA Premier League. CFC indicated their intention to seek compensation from M. It was agreed that both issues would be referred to the FA Premier League Appeals Committee. C at this stage informed FIFA that it would be applying to the FIFA Dispute Resolution Centre for an award of compensation against M. The Committee found M to have breached his contract without just cause.

M appealed to the CAS against this decision. The CAS dismissed his appeal.

CFC applied to the FIFA DRC for compensation. It held that it did not have jurisdiction to decide the dispute and that the complaint was therefore not admissible.

CFC appealed the FIFA DRC’s decision to the CAS.


Issue

(1) Whether the 2001 or 2005 FIFA Regulations applied, which depended on whether CFC had first lodged its claim with the DRC;

(2) Whether M had standing to be sued, or whether the claim should have been directed at FIFA as M contended;

(3) If so, whether the DRC’s decision should stand.


Held

(1) The 2001 Regulations applied. CFC had unambiguously expressed its intention to lodge a claim before the DRC prior to the FAPLAC hearing and had presented the situation to the DRC at that time in a formally acceptable way.

(2) M had standing to be sued. It was a term of M’s employment contract that M had to abide by the FIFA Regulations which provided the system for resolving this kind of dispute. CFC was entitled to claim against M in order to require him to accept FIFA’s jurisdiction. This was in any event a contractual dispute between CFC and M.

(3) The DRC decision was annulled. Art 42 of the Regs allowed for the ‘triggering elements’ of any dispute to be determined by the DRC or a national football tribunal if agreed by the parties and if its members were chosen equally by players and clubs. The DRC alone had jurisdiction to determine sporting and financial sanctions. The FAPLAC had decided the ‘triggering elements’. The DRC thus had jurisdiction to determine sanctions.


Comment

A decision of the CAS valuable for its clear elucidation of the relative jurisdiction of national football tribunals and the FIFA DRC. Having annulled the DRC’s original decision the CAS remitted the case to it to determine compensation.


Instructing Solicitors

Hammonds for Chelsea; Monterneri Sport Law & Management for Mutu


Links

Arbitral Award (pdf)
Chelsea win battle for Mutu compensation - Times
Chelsea wins appeal over Mutu compensation - The Lawyer