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Profile: FC Sion
FC Sion was a participant or observer in the following events:
FIFA’s Dispute Resolution Chamber hands down a ruling punishing the Swiss club FC Sion and its Egyptian goalkeeper Essam El Hadary over Al Hadary’s transfer from the Egyptian club Al Ahly in February 2008. The goalkeeper is banned for four months, starting from the next season, and Sion is ordered to pay Al Ahly a transfer fee of US$1.25 million and also prevented from registering new players for two transfer windows, i.e. more than a year. The move was illegal under FIFA regulations because El Hadary was under contract with Al Ahly and there was no agreement between the clubs. FC Sion says it will appeal the ruling. [BBC, 6/2/2009; Court of Arbitration for Sport, 6/1/2010 ]
The Court of Arbitration for Sport rules against the Swiss club FC Sion and its goalkeeper Essam El Hadary in a dispute over the player’s transfer from the Egyptian club Al Ahly two years ago. The decision confirms a ruling of FIFA’s Dispute Resolution Chamber (see April 16, 2009) that ordered compensation to be paid to Al Ahly for the transfer and banned Sion from signing new players for two transfer windows. Although the original ruling is altered in some minor ways, the transfer ban remains in force. [Court of Arbitration for Sport, 6/1/2010 ]
The Swiss club FC Sion signs a number of players in the summer transfer window. It does so before a ban on signing players it is soon to be under takes effect (see June 1, 2010). The players are Loïc Chatton (signed from Biel), Steven Deana (Vaduz), Michael Dingsdag (Heerenveen), Jonas Elmer (Aarau), Rodrigo Lacerda (Strasbourg), Branislav Micic (Le Mont), Dragan Mrdja (Vojvodina), and George Ogararu (Ajax Amsterdam). [Swiss Football League, 2010]
The Swiss club FC Sion, which has been prohibited by the game’s ruling bodies from signing new players (see June 1, 2010), buys no new players during the winter transfer window. The only change the club makes during this period is that the player Didier Crettenand is given a new contract. [Swiss Football League, 2011] However, the club will buy players during the next transfer window, breaching the transfer ban (see Summer 2011).
A federal Swiss court rejects appeals lodged by the club FC Sion and goalkeeper Essam El Hadary against decisions of FIFA’s Dispute Resolution Chamber and the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). Both FIFA and CAS had ruled that Sion and El Hadary had broken the rules over the player’s transfer from the Egyptian club Al Ahly to Switzerland in 2008 (see April 16, 2009 and June 1, 2010). As a result of the two rulings, compensation was to be paid to Al Ahly and Sion was banned from transfer activity for two transfer windows. As the appeals are rejected, the CAS ruling remains in force. [FIFA, 1/19/2011] It is against FIFA’s statutes for a dispute to be brought before a civil court. [BBC Scotland, 8/16/2011]
FIFA reminds the Swiss club FC Sion that it will be under a transfer ban in the summer 2011 transfer window, according to a later interview with FIFA’s director of legal affairs Marco Villiger. [FIFA, 9/30/2011] However, Sion will sign players in the window (see Summer 2011), leading to a dispute (see September 2, 2011).
FC Sion win the Swiss Cup, beating Neuchatel Xamax 2-0 in the final. The result means that Sion qualify for next year’s edition of the Europa League. [UEFA, 5/29/2011] Sion are currently operating under a transfer ban imposed due to a rule breach (see April 16, 2009). As a result they were unable to sign new players during the winter break of this season (see January 2011).
The Swiss club FC Sion signs several new players, despite an apparent transfer ban. The new players are Guilherme Afonso (from Lugano), Pascal Feindouno (Monaco), Gabriel Garcia De La Torre (aka “Gabri,” Umm-Salal), Stefan Glarner (Thun), José Gonçalves (St. Gallen), Billy Ketkeophomphone (Strasbourg), and Mario Mutsch (Metz). [Swiss Football League, 2011] The transfer ban was to last for two transfer windows (see April 16, 2009 and June 1, 2010). Sion signed several players the previous summer (see Summer 2010), but nobody arrived during the winter transfer window (see January 2011).
The qualification committee of the Swiss Football League rejects requests by FC Sion for the registration of six newly-signed players: Stefan Glarner, Pascal Feindouno, José Gonçalves, Gabriel Garcia De La Torre (a.k.a. “Gabri”), Billy Ketkeophomphone, and Mario Mutsch (see Summer 2011). This is due to a transfer ban imposed on Sion for a rule breach by FIFA (see April 16, 2009). [Swiss Football League, 7/15/2011]
The appeal tribunal of the Swiss Football League rejects an appeal by FC Sion and six of its players against a decision of the league’s qualification committee, which refused to register the six (see July 15, 2011). The appeal tribunal finds that the qualification committee correctly decided to reject the applications to register the players because Sion was under a transfer ban. [Swiss Football League, 7/29/2011] Sion will apply for a court order allowing the six to play, and will initially be successful (see August 3, 2011).
The Civil Court of Martigny and St. Maurice orders FIFA, the FIFA subsidiary Transfer Matching System GmbH, and the Swiss Football League to allow six FC Sion players to play with immediate effect. The players were signed during a transfer ban (see Summer 2011), so FIFA claims they cannot be fielded, and the Swiss Football League had ruled to this effect (see July 15, 2011 and July 29, 2011). However, the league’s rulings are now overturned. [FIFA, 11/18/2011] Two days later, the Swiss Football League issues a statement saying that the players can be used until a further court ruling. [Swiss Football League, 8/5/2011] The same judge will later affirm his ruling (see September 27, 2011), but it will be overturned by a higher court (see November 16, 2011).
The Swiss club FC Sion defeats the Scottish team Celtic to win a place in the group stages of the Europa League. The first game of the two-legged playoff tie finished 0-0 in Glasgow, but the Swiss win the return leg 3-1. [Press Association (London), 8/26/2011] UEFA will overturn the result as Sion fielded a number of ineligible players (see September 2, 2011), leading to a drawn-out legal dispute.
Two UEFA officials, president Michel Platini and general secretary Gianni Infantino, say that the Swiss club FC Sion clearly breached a transfer ban imposed on it and that the club should not resort to civil courts. Sion used players signed while it was operating under the ban (see April 16, 2009) to win a Europa League playoff (see August 25, 2011). However, their opponents Celtic have now appealed to UEFA to overturn the result. Platini says that the players were fielded “in clear violation of the ban,” adding, “FC Sion has not respected the rules of the transfer ban—they signed players and then played those players.” Infantino says the case will be dealt with in house. “The civil court ruling does not affect UEFA,” he says. “We will look at our rules and the FIFA rules. There is a ruling by FIFA, [the Court of Arbitration for Sport] have ruled, it went to the Swiss supreme court, and everything was confirmed but it has been challenged again.” Infantino also sets out the key point of the dispute, saying, “It is an interpretation question which is complicated—whether a two transfer-window ban means two transfer windows or parts of several transfer windows.” [Press Association (London), 8/26/2011]
FIFA president Sepp Blatter says that civil courts should not be used in the dispute with the Swiss club FC Sion. Although operating under a transfer ban (see April 16, 2009), Sion signed several new players (see Summer 2011) and used them to secure a place in the Europa League (see August 25, 2011), which UEFA is now reviewing. “Tell me,” says Blatter, “on what grounds we should grant an exception to a club where millions of others follow the rules?” He adds: “I like the way [FC Sion owner Christian] Constantin makes things happen generally, but one of the fundamental principles of football is not using the civil courts with our internal regulations. FIFA judged the case and found Sion guilty.” [Daily Mail, 8/29/2011]
UEFA throws the Swiss Club FC Sion out of the Europa League for fielding ineligble players. The players were ineligible because they were signed during a transfer ban imposed on the club (see Summer 2011) as punishment for rule-breaking (see April 16, 2009). The players played in a two-legged playoff tie with Celtic, and UEFA now awards each leg to the Scottish club 3-0. [UEFA, 9/2/2011] Sion will appeal the ruling, but the decision will stand (see September 13, 2011).
The Qualification Committee of the Swiss Football League rejects a request from FC Sion for the registration of player Brian Amofa. The committee says that the request was rejected because of a transfer ban imposed on Sion in 2009 (see April 16, 2009). Such decisions on registration can be appealed to a higher body within the league. [Swiss Football League, 9/2011]
A Swiss court, the Tribunal Cantonal du Valais, rejects an action by the Swiss club FC Sion in the dispute over Sion’s ejection from European competition (see September 2, 2011) and refuses to issue an injunction. According to the court, the dispute between Sion, UEFA, and Celtic, which replaced Sion in the Europa League, does not have close enough links to Valais for it to adjudicate the matter. [Swiss Football League, 9/2011]
A Swiss court, the Tribunal Cantonal de Vaud, orders that the club FC Sion be reinstated in the Europa League. UEFA recently threw Sion out of the league in a dispute over player eligibility (see September 2, 2011). UEFA is not represented at the court hearing. [UEFA, 9/13/2011] Later the same day, UEFA’s appeal body confirms Sion’s ejection (see September 13, 2011), and UEFA’s emergency panel decides to ignore the court order (see Afternoon, September 13, 2011).
UEFA rejects an appeal from FC Sion over the club’s expulsion from the Europa League (see September 2, 2011). The ruling means that Celtic, which Sion defeated in a playoff, goes forward to the group stage of the competition. Sion can file an appeal against the decision with the Court of Arbitration for Sport. [UEFA, 9/13/2011] Earlier in the day, a Swiss court had ruled that FC Sion should be readmitted to the competition (see Morning, September 13, 2011), although UEFA’s emergency panel soon decides to ignore the court order and keep Sion out of the competition (see Afternoon, September 13, 2011).
Following a Swiss court order that FC Sion be reinstated in the Europa League (see Morning, September 13, 2011) and a UEFA appeal body ruling that confirmed the club’s ejection (see September 13, 2011), UEFA’s five-member emergency panel, including president Michel Platini, meets to discuss what to do. It decides to ignore the court order and continue to include Celtic in the competition at Sion’s expense. UEFA issues a statement explaining its reasoning for ignoring the order: the court only heard Sion representatives, not UEFA, and one of the grounds for the court’s ruling was erroneous—UEFA’s appeal body reviewed the decision shortly after the court order was issued, whereas the court thought it would not do so until after the Europa League group stage started on 15 September. “I am a strong believer and deeply attached to the protection of football and fairness of the game,” says Platini after the meeting. “I am happy that football disciplinary bodies are sanctioning clubs who are using their influence and wealth to induce players to breach their contracts. This is against all rules of sporting fairness. This is ultimately about protecting clubs, the players and football itself.” He adds: “We have clear rules and regulations that all clubs know before they enter our competitions. We cannot accept that if one individual club does not get its own way then it goes through any possible system to force its will on the others. Two independent disciplinary bodies have ruled on this issue and we must abide by their decisions.” [UEFA, 9/13/2011]
UEFA’s 53 member associations issue a declaration of support on the way the body’s leaders have handled the FC Sion affair. According to a statement released by UEFA, the 53 associations declare “unanimous support” for both “the governing body’s determination to uphold the statutes and regulations of football in the case of FC Sion,” and also specific persons and bodies prominent in the dispute, “UEFA president Michel Platini, the UEFA executive committee, the UEFA general secretary [Gianni Infantino], the UEFA disciplinary bodies, and the UEFA administration.” In addition, the member associations urge UEFA to take “concrete steps to uphold the statutes and regulations of FIFA, as UEFA has done,” because an “independent sports justice system is the best guarantor of equality and fairness for all participants in sports.” [UEFA, 9/21/2011]
A judge with the Swiss civil court of Martigny and St. Maurice reaffirms a ruling he issued the previous month in the dispute between FC Sion and the football authorities (see August 3, 2011). The decision ordered that Sion be allowed to field six players whose eligibility was disputed. [FIFA, 11/18/2011] However, a higher court will later overturn the ruling (see December 23, 2011).
A Swiss court again finds in favour of FC Sion in its dispute with UEFA over the club’s expulsion from the Europa League. The Civil Court of the Canton of Vaud instructs UEFA to reinstate the club in the Europa League and orders that UEFA pay the maximum fine of 1,000 Swiss francs for each day of non-compliance. The judge says that UEFA’s actions are unfair and that it appears not to have followed its own rules in the case. [FC Sion, 10/5/2006]
The Court of Arbitration for Sport decides some procedural issues in the dispute between UEFA and the Swiss club FC Sion over the club’s expulsion from the Europa League (see September 2, 2011 and September 26, 2011). The court confirms its competence to decide the merits of the case, dismisses a request by FC Sion for a stay of proceedings, and confirms the nomination of the arbitrator originally chosen by FC Sion. In addition, the court’s statement sent to the parties twice states that FC Sion is committing “clear abuse of [court] procedures” through its attempts at legal maneuvering. [UEFA, 10/15/2011]
UEFA explains the ways in which the Swiss club FC Sion could be reintegrated into the 2011-2012 Europa League to the Swiss court Tribunal Contonal de Vaud, following a court order it do so. Sion could be reintegrated into Group I as a fifth team and either eight additional fixtures would be played, or all previous results would be ignored and the group would start again with teams only playing each other once. Alternatively, Sion would simply join the competition in the next round. [UEFA, 10/17/2011] Sion will lose the legal battle and will not be reinstated (see December 15, 2011).
The Swiss judicial body Tribunal Cantonal de Vaud rejects an application by the Swiss club FC Sion that it order UEFA to immediately reinstate the club in the 2011-2012 Europa League. In particular, the court rejects the request that UEFA be ordered to enable Sion to play the French team Stade Rennais in the next round of fixtures instead of Celtic. Sion defeated Celtic in a playoff, but were then thrown out of the competition for fielding ineligible players and the Scottish team invited back in (see September 2, 2011). [UEFA, 10/18/2011]
The Court of Arbitration for Sport sets the date of the hearing in the Europa League dispute between UEFA and the Swiss Club FC Sion for November 24. UEFA ejected Sion from the Europa League for fielding ineligible players (see September 2, 2011) and since then there has been a series of legal disputes between the parties (see September 26, 2011 and October 14, 2011). The date is conditional on it being approved by the two parties. [UEFA, 10/25/2011] The court will rule in December, mostly in favour of UEFA (see December 15, 2011).
Six players from the Swiss club FC Sion appeal bans imposed on them by the disciplinary committee of the Swiss Football League. The five-match bans were imposed on the six, Pascal Feindouno, Gabriel Garcia De La Torre (a.k.a. “Gabri”), Stefan Glarner, José Gonçalves, Billy Ketkeophomphone, and Mario Mutsch, in a dispute over whether they were signed while Sion was under a transfer ban (see Summer 2011). The players and the club now appeal this decision to the league’s appeal tribunal. [Swiss Football League, 10/2011]
UEFA president Michel Platini criticizes the Swiss club FC Sion for involving civil courts in a dispute between it and the football authorities over a transfer ban (see August 3, 2011 and October 17, 2011). “If tomorrow you receive a red card on the pitch and you go to a judge because you cannot play in the next match, and the judge says you are right, what can we do?” Platini tells the French broadcaster RTL. “Everything must depend on the [Court of Arbitration for Sport]. Today, we have in principle an independent disciplinary process in the federations, in UEFA, in FIFA. If nobody respects its decisions and goes before civil courts, now that justice today moves slowly, I ask myself how this could happen. What do we do if a club relegated to the second division go to a court because they have a first division budget and want to stay there?” The Court of Arbitration for Sport has just set a date for a hearing in the case. [Press Association (London), 10/25/2011]
The Swiss club FC Sion complains to that country’s Competition Competition about the behavior of UEFA. Sion and UEFA are involved in a legal dispute over the club’s expulsion from the Europa League for fielding ineligible players (see September 2, 2011) and Sion now argues that UEFA is abusing a dominant position. [UEFA, 2/7/2011] The commission will take no action against UEFA (see February 7, 2012).
The Swiss club FC Sion and several of its players complain to the European Commission over its treatment by UEFA and FIFA. Sion was punished by the authorities for poaching another team’s player (see April 16, 2009), but has allegedly ignored punishment for this infringement (see September 2, 2011). Sion’s announcement of the complaint states its belief that that UEFA’s expulsion of the club from the Europa League is in conflict with European Union law. [Swissinfo, 10/31/2011]
A Swiss appelate court, the Tribunal Cantonal Valais, overturns lower court rulings favorable to the football club FC Sion in a dispute with FIFA and UEFA. A lower court had twice ruled (see August 3, 2011 and September 27, 2011) that players FIFA declared ineligible because of a transfer ban on the club (see Summer 2011) could actually play. FIFA welcomes the ruling, stating, “The Cantonal Court has thus indirectly taken the same view as FIFA and the [Swiss Football League] and its ruling has indirectly confirmed the legality of the transfer ban FIFA imposed on [FC Sion].” [FIFA, 11/18/2011]
The key hearing in the dispute between UEFA and the Swiss club FC Sion over the latter’s ejection from the Europa League is held before the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The hearing follows a long dispute between UEFA and the club (see September 2, 2011). [UEFA, 12/15/2011] The court will mostly rule in favor of UEFA (see December 15, 2011).
The Swiss Football League rejects appeals against the results of matches in which players signed by FC Sion during the summer transfer window played. The club was apparently operating under a transfer ban when it signed the players (see Summer 2011). The league’s disciplinary committee rejects appeals by Sion against the results of two games with BSC Young Boys on July 23 and December 4. Sion played these games without its six disputed signings. The protest is rejected because at the time of the first game none of the players was validly registered, and they were not allowed to play in the second game following a Swiss court decision adverse to Sion (see November 16, 2011). Protests by other Swiss clubs against the results of matches in which the six disputed players were involved are also rejected. A protest by Grasshopper Club of Zurich is dismsised for formal reasons. Protests by FC Lausanne-Sports, FC Thun, FC Basel, and FC Lucerne are dismissed because at the time of the games between FC Sion and these clubs the Swiss league was allowing the six to play because of orders from Swiss courts (see August 3, 2011 and September 27, 2011). These decisions can be appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. [Swiss Football League, 12/12/2011] The committee will issue a similar ruling concerning another FC Sion match soon after (see December 23, 2011).
The Court of Arbitration for Sport issues a ruling in the dispute between UEFA and the Swiss club FC Sion that is largely favorable to the Europan governing body. The court finds that UEFA is not under a duty to reintegrate Sion into the 2011-2012 Europa League, a competition from which it had been banned for fielding ineligible players (see September 2, 2011). However, the court does not rule in favor of UEFA on some other matters. For example, it refuses to declare that UEFA regulations and disciplinary measures are not in conflict with Swiss law. Sion is ordered to pay two thirds of the costs of proceedings—with UEFA making up the other one third—and also to make a contribution to UEFA’s legal costs. [CAS 2011/O/2574 UEFA v. Olympique des Alpes SA/FC Sion: Arbitral Award, 12/15/2011 ]
FIFA threatens to suspend the Swiss FA in a long-running dispute over the transfer of an Egyptian goalkeeper to FC Sion in 2008 (see April 16, 2009). FIFA sets a deadline of January 13, by which time the Swiss FA must comply with its instructions. Otherwise, the Swiss national team will be unable to play matches and FC Basel will be unable to continue in the Champions League. FIFA demands that Sion be penalised by forfeting each game in which it fielded an ineligible player, in particular the six it signed in the summer when FIFA says the club was under a transfer ban due to improprieties during the goalkeeper’s transfer. “The executive committee decided to give a final deadline of January 13 to the Swiss FA to enforce the registration ban imposed on Sion… and to sanction the attitude of the club repeatedly trying to circumvent this decision in a legally abusive manner,” says a FIFA statement. However, Swiss FA spokesman Peter Gilleron tells a news conference FIFA’s demand is “impractical,” although he believes a points deduction is possible. [Reuters, 12/17/2011] In response, Sion files a criminal complaint against FIFA’s executive committee (see December 29, 2011).
The disciplinary committee of the Swiss Football League rejects another appeal by FC Sion over the result of a recently played game. Sion was unable to field six banned players in the game with FC Zurich on December 10 because of a long-running dispute. The committee, which rejected a similar appeal by Sion a few days previously (see December 12, 2011), says the player bans are appropriate because of a Swiss court ruling (see November 16, 2011). Sion may appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. [Swiss Football League, 12/23/2011]
The Swiss club FC Sion files a criminal complaint against FIFA’s executive committee in the long-running dispute over a player’s transfer (see April 16, 2009). FIFA had previously threatened to suspend Switzerland from international competition if the Swiss Football Association did not sanction Sion in accordance with FIFA’s instructions, and such suspension would mean that the Swiss national team could no longer play matches and that FC Basel could not continue in the Champions League (see December 17, 2011). Sion says on its website that the threat amounts to unacceptable blackmail and a breach of a basic legal rule. [Associated Press, 12/29/2011]
The Swiss FA deducts 36 points from FC Sion because the club fielded what it deems to be ineligible players in 12 matches. The move comes as a part of a long-running dispute between the club and various football authorities (see April 16, 2009), following a threat from FIFA that if the Swiss FA did not do so, all Swiss teams would be suspended from international competition (see December 17, 2011). The players are ineligible as they were signed during a transfer embargo imposed after Sion signed an Egyptian goalkeeper despite him being under contract to another club. Three points are deducted for each domestic league or cup game in which one of six ineligible players was fielded. The deduction leaves Sion bottom of the Swiss first division with a points total of minus five. According to the Swiss FA, Sion may appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. [BBC, 12/30/2011]
The Swiss Competition Commission decides to take no action against UEFA following a complaint made by the club FC Sion. UEFA and Sion have been in dispute for some time over the club’s expulsion from the Europa League for fielding ineligible players (see September 2, 2011), and the club filed a complaint with the commission in October (see October 27, 2011). UEFA now issues a statement saying the commission has said it will take no action on the complaint. According to UEFA, this decision confirms “that UEFA has not violated the rules of free competition and that the decisions of its disciplinary bodies represent neither an abuse of a dominant position nor an obstacle to free competition.” [UEFA, 2/7/2011]
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