FIFA has issued the CAS & Football Annual Report 2023, a detailed overview of the CAS appeals against FIFA decisions as well as of other important issues related to CAS for the period between 1 January 2023 and 31 December 2023.
Article 57 of the FIFA Statutes acknowledges the jurisdiction of Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to handle appeals against final decisions issued by FIFA’s legal bodies. The work of the different FIFA legal bodies on several topics is therefore constantly under CAS’ review and the FIFA Legal & Compliance Division plays a crucial role as it acts as the main point of contact between FIFA and CAS. FIFA’s Litigation department deals with all appeals filed before CAS
against FIFA’s decisions.
In 2023, CAS has notified 431 appeals to FIFA which had been filed against the latter’s decisions. Naturally, FIFA did not have a legal interest to participate in all these disputes, as many of them (in particular, the ones issued by the Football Tribunal) do not involve FIFA’s prerogatives or disciplinary powers, meaning that FIFA did not have anything directly at stake in such cases. Given the above, all these appeals are distinguished between (i) cases in which FIFA was not called as a party, (ii) cases in which FIFA (successfully) requested to be excluded from the proceedings, and (iii) cases in which FIFA was a party.
The CAS & Football Annual Report 2023 presents an in-depth overview of the case outcomes involving FIFA, with a focus on awards received during the period of scrutiny in 2023. A total of 136 CAS awards/orders in which
FIFA was a party have been reported. It is important to note that not all cases result in awards on the merits, and therefore, a clear distinction is made between, Awards on the Merits, Awards on Costs, Termination Orders, and Consent Awards. It also presents the global statistics of football cases held in CAS, meaning the cases that are football-related but not directly to FIFA decisions. The CAS & Football Report further provides a summary of the most relevant awards notified in 2023, divided by topics, among them: Football Tribunal; Judicial Bodies (Disciplinary Committee and Appeal Committee, Ethics Committee); Other decisions (Bureau of the FIFA Council, FIFA Council); Orders of provisional measures. In the same line, the Report aims to provide an analysis of the number of CAS Awards related to football that were appealed before the Swiss Federal Tribunal (SFT) in the year 2023, along with a summary of the significant cases.
Furthermore, the Report contains the most significant information in relation with the FIFA-CAS Football Legal Aid Fund (FLAF) which started operating since 1 February 2023 which highlights, inter alia, the number of requests and how many of them were approved. Finally, this document also includes an explanation of the specific proposals made by the football representatives in ICAS to enhance the administration of football cases within CAS.
As far as Cyprus is concerned, the only case mentioned in the report is CAS 2021/A/7912 Olympiakos Nicosia v. Club Necaxa (Award 29 March 2023). The case concerned issues of allocation of the club Olympiakos Nicosia by the DRC from “training category IV” to “training category III”, thus making this club liable to pay training compensation. The Club eventually contested the above allocation to CAS. In this regard, the Sole Arbitrator started by reiterating that member associations are, in principle, responsible for the allocation of the training category of their clubs. Obviously, FIFA can interfere with the member association’s decision, but the Sole Arbitrator pointed out that the threshold to do so is rather high. In particular, there needs to be a manifest discrepancy between the categorisation of the national federation and the rules and/or guidelines issued by FIFA. The Sole Arbitrator also recalled that each party must bear their own burden of proof. On the one hand, the Appellant must justify why it should be regarded as a club of “category IV”, while on the other hand, FIFA must establish that the decision of the member association was clearly inadequate. The Sole Arbitrator concluded that both parties had substantiated their position and turned, therefore, to FIFA Circular n°1249. On assessing this circular, the Sole Arbitrator noted that it gave the member associations a degree of flexibility in placing the clubs in the applicable training category. In view of the above, the Sole Arbitrator found that the member association did not exceed its freedom when it placed the Club in a “training category IV”, and therefore upheld the appeal in full.
The full report can be accessed here.