I’m not sure there’s much point to the rest of the Sweeper given the dominance of today’s Chelsea news: the club have been banned by FIFA from signing players for the next two transfer windows, meaning they won’t be able to register a new player until January 2011. FIFA’s Dispute Resolution Chamber found that Chelsea were guilty of “inducement to breach of contract” by luring Gael Kakuta from Lens in the summer of 2007. But does this decision follow precedent, and does Chelsea have a good chance to overturn it on appeal?
It’s worth looking at the actual FIFA articles related to the ruling. FIFA announced that “sporting sanctions were imposed on both the player and Chelsea in accordance with art. 17 par. 3 and 4 of the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players.” It’s 17.4 that pertains to Chelsea, and leads to the registration ban:
In addition to the obligation to pay compensation, sporting sanctions shall be imposed on any club found to be in breach of contract or found to be inducing a breach of contract during the protected period. It shall be presumed, unless established to the contrary, that any club signing a professional who has terminated his contract without just cause has induced that professional to commit a breach. The club shall be banned from registering any new players, either nationally or internationally, for two registration periods. (emphasis mine)
It seems clear, of course, that Kakuta failed to convince the DRC that he had “just cause” to break his contract and that Chelsea failed to convince FIFA’s DRC that they had not induced the player to such a breach, with the burden being on them to do so.
It’s important to note that FIFA have had this set of articles on their books since at least 2005 (the earliest set of regulations they have published on their website from that year contains the same wording). The Court of Arbirtration for Sport, to whom Chelsea have 21 days to appeal the decision to, has upheld FIFA’s decisions in similar cases before on breach of contract, an issue that FIFA and CAS have stressed strongly in recent years, quite rightfully in my view.
In 2008, the CAS upheld FIFA’s decision against Czech player Tomas Mica and Swiss side FC Wil 1900 in a breach of contract case after the player signed for FC Wil 1900 despite being under contract to PFC Naftex AC Bourgas. And the CAS also upheld FIFA’s decision against Al Kuwait SC, who were ordered to pay compensation for breach of contract and banned from signing players for two registration periods after it was found they had breached the contract of Vjatseslav Zahovaiko.
Of course, we don’t know the precise details of this case, and it’s possible Chelsea will find some convincing grounds for appeal we don’t know about. But given the CAS has upheld FIFA’s firm stance for contract integrity before, it would have to be a very well-grounded and exceptional case proving Kakuta had “just cause” to break his contract (such as maltreatment by Lens).
I’ve already seen much discussion claiming FIFA has a conspiracy against English clubs and many presuming this will easily be thrown out on appeal. But it’s clear that FIFA is applying its rulebook consistently and that CAS has upheld rulings based on these articles before. Chelsea had better have an ace up their sleeve to present to the CAS to wiggle out of this one.
Given all the focus on Chelsea today, just a brief roundup of other news for you:
- A rare report on North Korean football appears with a profile of goalkeeper Ri Myong-guk, apparently known as the “Gatekeeper of the Iron Wall”.
- Jamie Jackson looks at the challenge facing Portsmouth. Already off to a terrible start to the season, they now face the task of integrating a further seven new players signed in the past week.
- Meanwhile, West Ham’s finances look even worse than we presumed they were, with debts and other liabilities approaching £100m.
- The Seattle Sounders beat DC United 2-1 yesterday to win the US Open Cup. We have of course followed the marketing effort for this final closely, and the announced crowd of 17,329 pleased DC’s PR team — not that that will make up for the defeat or the embarrassing red card for Josh Wicks.
The Sweeper appears daily. For more rambling and links throughout the day every day, follow your editor Tom Dunmore @pitchinvasion on Twitter.