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Important Victory for Footballers in Turkey before the European Court of Human Rights | Arbitration Committee of the Turkish Football Federation considered not independent and impartial

Posted by on 28 January 2020

In today's Chamber judgement in the case of Ali Riza and Others v, Turkey concerning football disputes the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been a violation of Article 6 § 1 (right to a fair hearing) of the European Convention on Human Rights on account of the lack of independence and impartiality of the body, the Arbitration Committee of the Turkish Football Federation ("the TFF"), which had decided on disputes concerning Ömer Riza, a professional football player and Serkan Akal, a referee.

Victory-footballers-turkey-before-ehcr-valloni-froriepThe Court found in particular that the executive body of the TFF, the Board of Directors, which had always largely consisted of members of football clubs, had too strong an influence over the organisation and functioning of the Arbitration Committee. Nor did TFF law provide appropriate safeguards to protect members of the Arbitration Committee from any outside pressure.

Noting that the case revealed a systematic problem as regards the settlement of football disputes in Turkey, the Court indicated under Article 46 (binding force and implementation) that the State should take measures to ensure the structural independence of the Arbitration Committee.

Dr. Lucien Valloni who represented Ali Riza before the European Court of Human Rights states:

"This is a very important victory for all sports men because it makes clear that Arbitration Committees of Sport Federations must be independent and impartial and this will lead to a lot of structural changes all over the sport sector. This decision makes clear that players must have an equal representation in these arbitration bodies of Federations. This makes clear that FIFA Disputes Resolution Chamber that is composed also with judges selected by the players union FIFPRO is the correct way and a good example to deal with disputes in the sport sector."


Click on the link below to download the judgement (in English, 59 pages)

DOWNLOAD judgement 

and the press release, issued by the European Court of Human Rights on 28 January 2020 (in English, 4 pages)

DOWNLOAD press release


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Photocredit: Shutterstock / Artpomus

Topics: Arbitration | Litigation | Sports Law

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Dr. Lucien W. Valloni

Lucien is a highly experienced litigator in both international and domestic criminal, commercial and arbitration cases in the Swiss courts, up to the Swiss Federal Supreme Court level. Lucien is well known for his expertise in the field of appealing arbitration awards to the Swiss Federal Supreme Court. Lucien assists damaged civil parties in criminal proceedings and he is active in relation to the enforcement of foreign judgements as well as in big complex cross boarder litigation including protection and recovery of funds, including enforcement of state debts. Lucien is also one of the best-known sports lawyers in Switzerland, with extensive experience in sports litigation on various bodies of sports organisations as well as in sports arbitration at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne. Lucien has been a partner at our Zurich office since 2005. He has represented domestic and international clients in numerous high-profile cases in various fields and courts up to the Swiss Federal Supreme Court. He advises clients on commercial, employment, entertainment and media, insurance, real estate, aviation and international enforcement matters. Lucien has published textbooks on litigation and sports law in Switzerland and lectures widely.He obtained his law degree from the University of Zurich in 1990 and gained a PhD from the Faculty of Law of the University of Zurich in 1998 with a thesis on the jurisdiction of courts at the place of performance of an obligation under the Lugano and Brussels Conventions. (He graduated with the distinction summa cum laude and the Professor Walther Hug-Preis Schweiz, awarded for outstanding theses graded with the highest possible mark by a Swiss law school.) He has worked as a law clerk at the District Court of Zurich, the Court of Appeal of the Canton of Zurich and at the Court of Cassation of the Canton of Zurich. His working languages are German, English, Italian and French.Lucien is a member of the Zurich Bar Association, the Swiss Bar Association and the Swiss Arbitration Association (ASA). He is, president of the Swiss Association of Football Players (SAFP) and president of the World Association of Icehockey Players’ Unions (WAIPU) as well as a Member of the Association Internationale des Avocats de Football (AIAF). He is a board member of FIFPro (Fédération Internationale des Associations de Footballeurs Professionnels) and FIFPro Division Europe, and member of the Employment Law Alliance, the Associazione Internazionale Giuristi di Lingua Italiana (AIGLI) and the Swiss-Italian Chamber of Commerce (Camera di Commercio Italiana per la Svizzera). Lucien is a lecturer at the Paris-Sorbonne University in Abu Dhabi.

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