Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) or FIFA Football Tribunal?: FIFA’s System for Football Dispute Resolution

By Guillermo Daffir Madrigal Monroy

The Féderation Internationale de Football, better known by its acronym FIFA, is the body responsible not only for organizing football competitions but also for drafting the provisions and regulations that govern this sport.

Being an association, FIFA demands certain requirements from its members (federations and confederations) to be part of it, such as:

  • Affiliation to the corresponding confederation
  • Observance of FIFA and corresponding confederation statutes, regulations, and decisions
  • Observance of the current rules of the game
  • Recognizing, according to the statutes, the jurisdiction of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS)

However, the new version of FIFA’s statutes anticipates the existence of a Football Tribunal consisting of three bodies: the Dispute Resolution Chamber, the Agents Chamber, and the Player Status Chamber. The Football Tribunal will resolve football-related disputes through each of its chambers and in relation to regulatory requests.

This raises doubts about which tribunal would be competent to hear disputes arising in this sport. Regarding this point, according to article 54, the Football Tribunal has jurisdiction over member federations, clubs, officials, players, football agents, and match organizers.

On the other hand, article 56 of the statutes mentions that CAS will have jurisdiction over FIFA, member federations, confederations, leagues, clubs, players, officials, football agents, and match organizers. While the differences are subtle, the jurisdiction of each tribunal can also be differentiated according to the nature of each one.

The Football Tribunal is a FIFA sanctioning body regarding the mentioned subjects, according to articles 24(6) and 54(3). The anticipated sanctions it can impose on both individuals and legal entities are outlined within article 55 of FIFA’s statutes. Its jurisdiction is delimited by the matters specified by each of its composing chambers.

In the case of CAS, according to the statutes of this tribunal, it comprises an Ordinary Arbitration Chamber, an Anti-Doping Chamber, and an Appeals Arbitration Chamber, and it is the arbitral institution responsible for administering different sports procedures, including those arising from football disputes.

Furthermore, TAS will not handle appeals related to a) violations of the Rules of the Game, b) Suspensions of up to four matches or up to three months (with the exception of doping decisions), and c) decisions against which an appeal may be lodged before an independent and duly constituted arbitration tribunal recognized by the regulations of a federation or confederation, with these procedures governed by the CAS arbitration rules based in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Likewise, FIFA’s statutes provide that appeals against decisions adopted by FIFA, its judicial bodies, as well as against decisions adopted by its members (confederations, federations, or leagues) must also be brought before CAS. That is, it also acts as a second instance against FIFA’s organs decisions.

In this way, FIFA delimits the issues in which the Football Tribunal will have jurisdiction and in which CAS will have jurisdiction over the dispute. Finally, it is also worth noting that in some disputes provided for in Article 22 of the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players, parties are given the freedom to choose a different national arbitration institution.

At Vega, Guerrero & Asociados, our dispute resolution team is available to provide advice and offer our services in procedures involved in this matter. In case of any doubts that may arise regarding the article, we are open to providing guidance.


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