The Court of Arbitration for Sport, situated in Lausanne, Switzerland (termed ‘CAS’), has decidedly ruled in favour of a footballer left unpaid and subjected to threats of police harassment by his club. Represented by Manleys Solicitors, the internationally recognised player sought justice to terminate his contract and claim damages. The CAS, after a detailed appeal, has affirmed the player’s right to end his contract, mandating the club to compensate him significantly.
Manleys represented a distinguished footballer, known for his goal-scoring feats in Europe’s premier leagues. His 2021 transfer was initially celebrated, but quickly soured as he faced repeated non-payment by the country’s most successful club, a regular in European competitions like the Champions League. When the player disputed these payment failures, he was relegated to the U21s. With support from a top European agent, the player held firm, leading to escalated tensions. He reported to CAS that club officials demanded he sign a contract variation in an unfamiliar language. Refusing led to a fine, and shockingly, he was later threatened with police intervention, prompting him to flee the country. The club refuted these claims.
Concerned for his safety, the player left the country abruptly, fearing local authorities might hinder his departure. Once safe, he, along with his agent, engaged Manleys to assist in terminating his contract.
Following a preliminary victory at FIFA’s Dispute Resolution Chamber, the club challenged the decision at CAS, seeking compensation for the loss of a transfer fee.
Manleys appointed prominent UK sports barrister, Steven Flynn of Kings Chambers and 2 Temple Gardens, known for his CAS successes, for the appeal. Flynn was assisted by the emerging sports law talent, Rosie Knight (Kings Chambers).
The club’s appeal questioned the player’s right to leave the country and end his contract without prior notice. They contended that the contract required a 14-day notice, allowing them to rectify the situation, or as per FIFA RSTP, a 15-day notice for wage-related terminations. They sought compensation for losing the player’s registration. The player’s new club was also implicated in the CAS proceedings.
The player’s defence hinged on a blend of Swiss law, the club’s national law, and prior CAS rulings, asserting his right to terminate for just cause. While Swiss law values prior notification to an employer, the CAS found this not to be an absolute criterion for just cause termination. The CAS ruled that the player sufficiently notified the club of contract breach by highlighting unpaid wages, dismissing the club’s counter-arguments as insubstantial. It also rejected the club’s claim to reassign the player to the U21 team. The club’s overall behaviour justified the player’s contract termination.
The CAS’s substantial award to the player included unpaid salary, compensation for reduced earnings at his new club, and three months’ additional salary for the salary-related termination. The club was also ordered to bear the costs.