EPFL welcomes CAS decision on Matuzalem case

Nyon, 19 May 2009

The Association of European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) welcomes the decision rendered by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in the so-called ‘Matuzalem’ case.

The decision, which was announced this afternoon, concludes that the Brazilian football player had terminated his contract with the Ukrainian club FC Shakhtar Donetsk  ‘unilaterally, prematurely and without just cause’ and condemned him to pay a compensation to his former club of EUR 11,858,934, plus interest of 5% per year starting on 5 July 2007 until the effective date of payment. Real Zaragoza SAD, the Spanish club with whom Matuzalem had subsequently signed a new contract, was declared ‘jointly and severally liable for the payment’ of the afore-cited amount.

In an unprecedented decision, the Court underlined that “The termination of a contract without just cause, even if it occurs outside the so-called Protect Period, remains a violation of contractual obligations”, adding that  “Article 17 of the FIFA Players Status Regulations does not give, neither to a club nor a player, a free pass to unilaterally breach an existing agreement”.

In a preliminary statement made on behalf of the EPFL a few moments after the decision was made public, the CEO Emanuel Macedo de Medeiros assured that the Association will examine with due attention and detail this decision, but anticipated that “it will have a positive impact on the game, as it acknowledges the specificity of sport, reinforces the fundamental principle of contractual stability and, a result of that, ensures the needed stability of competitions, which is one of the main pillars of Football as we know it. Contrary to the Webster case, I trust this decision may contribute to further dissuade illegal breaches of contracts. Contracts must be respected”, concluded Medeiros.

Seizing the occasion, the EPFL wishes to renew the invitation made to FIFA to promote an enlarged debate, involving FIFA, UEFA, EPFL, ECA and FIFPro, on the current Article 17 of aforementioned FIFA Regulations, a position which is shared by the European Club Association (ECA) as a fair protection for clubs in their dealings with players is vital to ensure the respect for contracts, as well as the stability and integrity of both the international and national transfer systems.

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