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World Sports Law Report

Current Issue (November 2014)

Volume: 12 Issue: 11

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About World Sports Law Report

The monthly law journal providing guidance on all aspects of sports law, including licensing and sports data, anti-doping and doping sanctions, TV and broadcasting rights, sport technology, players agents, disciplinary measures, sports integrity, sports betting, player contracts, intellectual property, transfer regulations, sports sponsorship and marketing, and governance, as well as coverage of key legal cases, sporting regulations and governing bodies including the IOC, UEFA and FIFA and sporting events such as London 2012. / read more

Turning point

Does anyone remember a company called International Sport and Leisure? Back in 2004, Swiss prosecutors began to investigate whether executives from ISL, FIFA’s former marketing partner, had been making illegal payments to FIFA executives in return for the awarding of FIFA World Cup TV rights.

In 2008, Swiss prosecutors charged six former ISL executives with various offences, however in 2013, FIFA concluded that despite evidence against them, it could not charge its executives with misconduct, as they had left FIFA and there was no Code of Ethics in place at that time to police this area.

Guess when the first FIFA Code of Ethics was approved? Top marks if you said 2004 – the same year as Swiss prosecutors launched their investigation into the alleged illegal payments. That Code of Ethics mandated that any future investigations are kept confidential. 

This was a smart move by FIFA. It allows it to investigate itself without ever having to publish the results. This allows it to discipline anyone it deems necessary to discipline in complete secrecy, with the added defence that if it were to go public, it could face legal action from the people involved in the investigation. This is fine if the organisation carrying out the investigations and implementing the sanctions is deemed to be credible, however following repeated allegations and investigations, FIFA is losing its credibility.

It appears that football will not tolerate FIFA’s secretive way of doing things anymore. The Garcia investigation reportedly cost €7.6 million and football, which generated that money, wants answers. In January in Brussels, football authorities and politicians will hold a conference about how to reform FIFA, organised by UK MP Damian Collins, who has long campaigned for a change in the way that football is governed internationally.

Our news article details the timeline of events around the investigation into the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups that has led us to this turning point. It appears that football will no longer allow FIFA to bury serious allegations against its executives.

P.S. This edition of World Sports Law Report will be distributed at Sport & Betting 2014, hence our two articles on the Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act here and here, and on US developments here. Hope to see you there!

Andy Brown

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