The controversial judgment with which three sports lawyers on behalf of the International Sports Court Cas now push the Manchester City football club and its owners from Abu Dhabi back to the Champions League money locks has 93 pages. That explosive detail, which also attracted attention at Europe’s football union Uefa on Wednesday, only needs four lines of it – it is hidden on page 14 in paragraph 34. On 30 March 2020, it says that the plaintiff – Manchester City – “proposed” that “Mr. Rui Botica Santos (Portugal) be nominated as chair of the panel in the present case.” And this is how it actually happened: On April 3, Botica Santos was named. Which now raises urgent questions, because City had already been able to select another lawyer for the three-member judges panel, Andrew de Lotbinière McDougall, who works in Paris. And lo and behold: The Cas slogan, which received Uefa’s decision to exclude City from the Champions League for two years due to gross violations of the financial fair play rules, this verdict was given with 2: 1 votes.
How does sports law work: The plaintiff chooses the judges?
Word has got around that there has always been a conflict of interest about law and injustice at the Cas in Lausanne: it is misleading to speak of “Cas judges” alone. The lawyers listed as possible “judges” at the Cas often act as party representatives in other Cas cases. So there is an interest in continuing to exercise sports law in the role of judge – and then invoking it as an accuser or defense lawyer. And beyond the Cas world, these lawyers often work in those major law firms that players in the sports business like to commission with highly paid expertise. A self-nourishing system, of course, far away from any impression of bias.
Such a ruch of the mingling of interests can also be found in the city case: The “judge” McDougall named by the Premier League club was loud Guardian In his office from 2016 to 2018 he was also responsible for the office in Abu Dhabi – and there were among those clients, of which the city owner Sheikh Mansour processed his questionable financial deals in favor of his favorite toy City. A connection that McDougall denies.
Still: Was that known at the Cas? And why did it deviate from the rule that an independent Cas committee proposes the chairman – and not the plaintiff? The Cas says the usual thing about this: that ultimately none of the parties raised any objections. The Uefa lawyers actually don’t have that. So: everything complies with the rules! A point of view that does not necessarily polish up the already damaged trust in sports law.
At Manchester City, it would be better to put your millions in expensive lawyers than in Uefa penalties: This was the case in internal mails that were sent back and forth to City before they were leaked and finally ended up in front of the Cas. The fatal thing about the 2: 1 acquittal for City is that this is exactly the impression that City has not only stretched Uefa’s financial rules very far. A Uefa legal committee plus a Cas judge voted for the Champions League exclusion. The decisive factor, however, was given by two Cas judges who opposed it.