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Here’s a turn up: CAS are supporting Arsenal against Fifa

By Tony Attwood

In the last article Have Uefa and CAS finally had enough of club trickery in avoiding FFP? I reported on the way that Uefa and the Court of Arbitration in Sport seem to have had enough of the way Manchester City are using the rules in order to escape punishment in the area of football finances.

Of course it is always up to organisations to set up the rules in a way that is both fair and equitable, and to change the rules when they find a member using the rules in a way that was never intended.

And when it turns out that rules can be used to avoid a fair number of situations that the football authorities consider worthy of investigation, then obviously the situation needs investigation.

And thus it is interesting that just at the moment that Uefa and the Court for Arbitration in Sport are appearing to up their game and further restrict the arguments Manchester City can use either in their defence or use to avoid having to answer charges at all, the CAS has been busy agreeing with Arsenal in a case against Arsenal brought by Fifa.

This particular case concerns the use of sell-on clauses in transfers.   Fifa won a case against Arsenal in its own court (Fifa prosecutor and judge, with no jury), regarding the use of sell-on clauses in several transfers, and duly slapped a £34,000 fine in July 2020.  Arsenal has taken the case on appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and won.

Arsenal were also warned about their future conduct, in the way that the imperious Fifa like to do.  It would be nice to think that CAS has now warned Fifa about their future conduct in court, but I suspect they didn’t.

The case centred on the claim that Arsenal habitually added sell-on clauses to transfers through which Arsenal sought to influence the performance of other clubs.  Fifa argued that not only did this influence how the clubs that took Arsenal players behaved but that also Arsenal had failed to declare these terms to the official body known as the Transfer Matching System, which Fifa said they should have done – even though they’ve no warned other clubs about this.

The first case concerns Chuba Akpom who after a series of loans from Arsenal signed for PAOK in 2018 and played 54 games for them until 2020 when he went to Middesbrough, where after one more season he went back to PAOK on loan (making five appearances so far).

Arsenal replied to the allegations from Fifa by saying that there was never any effective influence because the fees involved were so small, and that the clause was in there to cover the fact that Arsenal had given the players experience of the English way of playing football, which would be of use if the players came back to England.  That experience would make them more valuable, and was down to Arsenal – hence the need for compensation.

However much more to the point, and this is really the crux of the matter, Arsenal also pointed out that many other clubs had similar clauses in their contracts when they sold players, but none of them had been singled out in this way.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport agreed, noting that “based on the wording of the sell-on clauses and the circumstances of these particular transfers, the Panel on a balance of probabilities is not convinced that Arsenal, when entering into [the contracts], acquired the ability to materially influence the other Clubs in employment and transfer-related matters, their policies or the performance of their teams.

“Moreover, and even if such influence was to be considered acquired when signing the respective contracts, quod non, the Panel finds, in these two transfers, that such influence did not reach the required threshold to potentially unduly limit the independence of the Clubs.”

Quod non, to save you reaching for the handy Latin English dictionary, means “which it is not”.  It is put in so that if Fifa wanted to argue back, the court is saying, “we didn’t have to take this into account because there wasn’t a case to answer”.

1-0 to the Arsenal.

6 comments to Here’s a turn up: CAS are supporting Arsenal against Fifa

  • Tim Hogan

    In the first paragraph of this article Tony wrote, “… I reported on the way that Uefa and the Court of Arbitration in Sport seem to have had enough of the way Manchester City are using the rules in order to escape punishment in the area of football finances.”

    My question to anyone who might know is, “If the rule changes outlined in the previous article, “Have Uefa and CAS finally had enough of club trickery in avoiding FFP?”, are passed will double – jeopardy apply?

  • Arsenal’s recent victory over FIFA, courtesy of CAS, probably means that we won’t be asked to join the ESL when it kicks off in 2024 😉

  • Mikey

    So the argument is that, having had experience in English football, the player would be more valuable to an English club hence the need for a higher sell on percentage. But surely if the player was “more valuable”, then an English club would be likely to pay more than a foreign club and AFC would consequently receive a higher sell-on fee anyway? Just a thought.

  • Chris

    Tony it is unfair to insinuate that CAS is incompetent, biased or cowardly when it’s ruling doesn’t favour your agenda eg when it ruled in favour of Man city. And now when their ruling favours arsenal, they suddenly are tired of being accomplices of the bad guys. Be consistent, it’s either the CAS rules in favour of justice irrespective of whose ox is gored or they are incompetent biased and have done so to arsenal’s advantage too. This is what we have seen too often on untold to it’s discredit (as it was to Wenger’s), the tiniest ref injustice to arsenal leads to continuous whining. Yet when the refs make errors in arsenal’s favour everybody else acknowledges it except untold who go on to weave convoluted theories proving that the ref made the right decision and there was no error to arsenal’s favor. Same ref that is accused of not knowing basic ref business when the decision goes against arsenal suddenly becomes the one with the best understanding of refereeing when his supposed error favours arsenal.. no consistency

  • Chris, I think you miss the fact that Untold Arsenal uses statistics. If you look at the number of yellow cards we were getting, and the way different clubs are penalised by refs, or the figures we have published on referees last season and how the referees that gave Arsenal multiple cards were much more likely to get repeat games involving Arsenal than those who don’t give multiple cards, a pattern starts to emerge.
    You might be right if only opinion was stated here, but this website is packed with statistics backing up the case.

  • John L

    I honestly can’t recall refs ever making errors in Arsenal’s favour.

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