The International Sports Law Journal

, Volume 18, Issue 1–2, pp 39–45 | Cite as

Third-party ownership prohibition in football and European Union fundamental freedoms: CAS decision on RFC Seraing case

  • Pedro Henrique Rebello de Mendonça


Third-party ownership used to be an important financing mechanism in football. It allowed some clubs to be more competitive in the global transfer market, as they could attract and retain footballers whom they would otherwise not have been able to attract if the clubs had to acquire the totality of the players’ economic rights. However, this mechanism was banned by FIFA in 2015 after the inclusion of Article 18ter in its Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players. This prohibition has been very controversial and was challenged before the CAS by the Belgian club RFC Seraing. The decision in the case considered the parties’ arguments: The club’s argument was that Article 18ter violated European Union law, including the fundamental freedoms; FIFA’s argument was that such a measure was necessary and proportionate to preserve the integrity of football. Throughout this paper, the reasoning adopted by the CAS panel in its decision will be analysed, taking into consideration the allegations regarding the legitimacy of FIFA’s objectives in banning TPO as well as the adequacy and proportionality of such a measure to achieve those objectives. Therefore, it will be possible to verify whether the TPO prohibition is truly compatible with the European Union’s fundamental freedoms.


Third-party ownership Football Sports law European Union Fundamental freedoms 


  1. FIFA (2007) Regulations club licensing.…/club_licensing_regulations_en_47341.pdf. Accessed 17 Aug 2017
  2. FIFA (2016a) Regulations on the status and transfer of players. Accessed 22 Aug 2017Google Scholar
  3. FIFA (2016b) Several clubs sanctioned for breach of third-party influence, third-party ownership rules. Accessed 22 Aug 2017
  4. FIFA/TMS (2016) Global transfer market report 2016. Accessed 22 Aug 2017
  5. FIFA/TMS (2017) Global transfer market report 2017. Accessed 22 Aug 2017
  6. Ford M (2017) Could RB Leipzig be banned from competing in the Champions League? Accessed 2 May 2017
  7. Kelner M (2017) FA announces end to all sponsorship deals with betting companies. The Guardian. Accessed 11 Aug 2017
  8. Lombardi R, Manfredi S, Nappo F (2014) Third party ownership in the field of professional football: a critical perspective. Bus Syst Rev 3:32–47CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. MacInnes P (2017) How can PSG pay £200 m for Neymar? What happened to financial fair play? The Guardian. Accessed 22 Aug 2017
  10. Motta M, Fida P (2015) The FIFA ban on TPO in Brazil and the Maidana case. World Sports Law Rep 13(11):13–16Google Scholar
  11. Reuters (2015) Spain and Portugal challenge Fifa’s ban on third-party ownership. The Guardian. Accessed 22 Aug 2017
  12. Smith R (2017) Belgian clubs and foreign money: a modern soccer mix. The New York Times. Accessed 11 Sept 2017
  13. The Telegraph (2016) Exclusive: how Sam Allardyce tried to make as much money as possible as England manager—before his first match. Accessed 22 Aug 2017
  14. UEFA (2017a) Club Financial Control Body Adjudicatory Chamber decision in Case AC-01/2017. Accessed 22 Aug 2017
  15. UEFA (2017b) Regulations of the UEFA Champions League 2015–2018 cycle—2017/18 season. Accessed 17 Aug 2017
  16. Van Maren O, Duval A, Liga L, Poli R, Reck AN, Geey D, Duve C, Loibl F (2016) Debating FIFA’s TPO ban: ASSER International Sports Law Blog symposium. Int Sports Law J 15:233–252CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Villas-Boas Pires L (2016) A review of FIFA’s TPO ban and alternative financing models for clubs. Accessed 17 Aug 2017
  18. Wright A (2017) Gambling companies dominate Premier League sponsorship deals; no beer sponsors in 2017/18 for first time ever. Calcio e Finanza. Accessed 22 Aug 2017

Copyright information

© T.M.C. Asser Instituut 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Rio de JaneiroBrazil

Personalised recommendations