Revealed: Court of Arbitration for Sport branded 'toothless' after Leeds United ruling
There is growing concern among legal experts that the Court of Arbitration for Sport – the body that recently ruled devastatingly against Leeds United in the case of Jean-Kevin Augustin – is not fit for purpose, Football Insider has learned.
More and more analysts are of the mind that the court, which is commonly known as CAS, operates under the veneer of impartiality but in fact reaches many decisions based on its own self-interest.
One major criticism is CAS’s lack of transparency – the institution does not publish the minutes of its sessions, nor does it make every ruling publicly available.
There was, for example, no report besides a brief statement from the court after it ruled in favour of RB Leipzig over the 2018 loan transfer of Augustin to Leeds.
FIFA ordered Leeds to pay £17.7million for the 25-year-old striker, who now plays for Basel, despite the West Yorkshire side’s view that disruption to the 2018-19 season caused by the pandemic nullified their obligation to buy.
Football Insider first broke news on 27 October that CAS would uphold FIFA’s original decision, and the decision was confirmed by both clubs on 4 November.
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CAS has no judiciary authority but effectively has a monopoly over professional sport, with FIFA, the IOC, and the World Anti-Doping Agency among the bodies that fund and subordinate themselves to the court.
A retired sports litigation professional, who asked for their comments to be unattributed, told Football Insider that CAS is increasingly being seen as a “toothless tiger.”
“The feeling from many of us is that you, as a club or an athlete, can get a generous judgement if you get the right panel,” they continued.
“Their business model – and that is what it is, a business model – is to keep everyone happy. Although, that isn’t going to be possible in all deliberations.
“But if an athlete or team has been given a ban, for example, there is a view that, if it is financially viable, you should always appeal because CAS will be generous in their assessment.
“It’s often the case that the ban will at least be reduced. That way, a governing body can be seen to be upholding its own laws while placating the individual or team.
“You just want to get the right panel. When that happens, we see a pattern because the court itself wants governing bodies to continue to write them into their legislation.”