CAS ruling on Seraing backs FIFA ban on third party ownership

March 10 – FIFA have welcomed the decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to uphold a recruitment ban on Belgian club RFC Seraing during four transfer windows imposed back in September 2015 for breaches relating to third party ownership.

Although CAS itself released no statement, it appeared to have agreed with FIFA’s arguments while reducing the ban from four to three windows.

“With this decision, which came after a thorough and comprehensive examination of the arguments raised and an analysis of all relevant legal provisions, mainly of EU law, and despite a slight reduction in the original transfer ban imposed from four to three registration periods, CAS has recognised and confirmed the validity of FIFA’s ban on TPO, which was adopted in order to preserve the independence of clubs and players in matters of recruitment and transfer, and to ensure the integrity of matches and competitions,” FIFA said in a statement.

Seraing had joined the Malta-based investment fund Doyen in challenging FIFA with a complaint that outlawing TPO went against a number of EU competition regulations. The claim was also centred around the argument that TPO came into effect “against the advice and opinion of the vast majority” of those consulted by FIFA itself.

The Brussels Court of First Instance and the Brussels court of appeal both supported FIFA’s and UEFA’s stance that TPO is detrimental to the game – and CAS now says it agrees.

“Yesterday’s CAS award is the first decision that unreservedly recognises the compatibility of the ban on TPO with EU law,” said FIFA.

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