A look at the legal issues in Man City’s appeal against UEFA

Manchester City UEFA verdict
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GENEVA — Manchester City’s legal fight with UEFA was expected, but how the English champion will organize its legal tactics is not yet clear.

[ MORE: Man City files appeal against UEFA ban ]

The Court of Arbitration for Sport on Wednesday confirmed City met a 10-day deadline to file an appeal against a two-year ban from European competition — punishment imposed for “serious breaches” of UEFA’s club finance monitoring rules and failing to cooperate with the investigation.

The court’s update came hours before City was to play in the Champions League at Real Madrid.

The aristocratic, 13-time European champions are just the kind of soccer power City’s owners from the Abu Dhabi royal family aimed to dethrone when buying an underachieving club in 2008. More than $1 billion of investment has brought four Premier League titles, the attention of UEFA investigators and still no European trophy.

City faces a likely tough case at CAS, which has previously upheld UEFA’s “Financial Fair Play” system and the use of evidence obtained by methods illegal under Swiss law.

Still, City chief executive Ferran Soriano insisted last week “the allegations are false” and promised fans “we will do everything that can be done to prove so.”

UEFA excluded City from playing in the Champions League, Europa League or Super Cup in the next two seasons. UEFA also fined City $32.5 million.

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The investigation was opened after leaked club documents were reported in German magazine Der Spiegel in November 2018. The published evidence appeared to show City deceived UEFA by overstating sponsorship deals from 2012-16 and hid the source of revenue tied to its owners in Abu Dhabi.

UEFA’s rules allow unlimited spending on stadiums and youth development, but control spending on player transfers and wages. Clubs must break even on spending their commercial income set at fair market rates.

In Manchester, club officials reportedly call the pending appeal “CAS Two.” In ” CAS One,” City lost its attempt in November to have UEFA’s investigation thrown out on procedural grounds.

The case is likely to be fast-tracked and will start at sport’s highest court in Lausanne, Switzerland. It could later go to the Swiss Federal Tribunal for a further appeal.

If City does not like the results in Lausanne, longer-term options include the European Commission in Brussels and European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. The UEFA judge who oversaw banning City, Jose Narciso da Cunha Rodrigues, sat at the European court for 12 years.

The case could also be settled out-of-court. That decision would involve UEFA leaders, including president Aleksander Ceferin, instead if its independent investigators and judges.

For UEFA, a prolonged contest with wealthy and determined club owners could be risky. A private agreement would surely be ratified by CAS.

“I think UEFA is too committed to FFP (Financial Fair Play) regulations to settle,” Antoine Duval, a sports law researcher who studies CAS, said in an interview.

If City’s appeal is lost, or only partially upheld by July, the club can seek a quick interim decision from a supreme court judge while the main federal appeal is prepared. A provisional freeze on UEFA’s ban could clear City to enter the next Champions League in September.

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In May 2018, Peru captain Paolo Guerrero got a provisional federal ruling allowing him to play at his first World Cup weeks later. The 34-year-old Guerrero ultimately lost his federal appeal against a 14-month ban for doping.

“I would see much more reluctance on the side of the Swiss judges unless they are very confident Man City will prevail,” said Duval, who works at the Asser Institute in The Hague.

Key documents published in the “Football Leaks” series were likely obtained by a hacker now detained in Portugal.

City never disputed that the revelations were based on authentic information. Instead, it argued the evidence was stolen and reported out of context.

Illegally obtained evidence has been allowed by CAS and the federal court, including in appeals by FIFA officials filmed by undercover reporters and Ukrainian soccer players who fixed matches.

One of the internal emails said City officials preferred in a previous phase of UEFA monitoring to spend tens of millions on “the 50 best lawyers in the world” to sue rather than accept punishment.

UEFA also has financial accounts submitted by City that are mandatory for FFP compliance.

One reported big-money City lawyer is London-based Lord David Pannick, who beat Boris Johnson‘s government in a Brexit-related supreme court case in September.

In a previous soccer case, Pannick represented Queens Park Rangers in a failed attempt to have the English Football League’s financial fair play rules – modeled on UEFA’s system – judged unlawful under competition law. That case was settled after a first loss at a tribunal.

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In that first appeal, City’s legal team came from two London chambers, Freshfields and Monckton. It also retained the Swiss firm of veteran Olympic advisor Francois Carrard, using lawyers from its Lugano office and not the Lausanne base.

UEFA retained the Zurich-based firm of longtime advisor Michele Bernasconi, an in-demand CAS judge who is personally close to FIFA president Gianni Infantino.

A key next step in “CAS Two” is picking the three arbitrators. City and UEFA will each choose one, and the court appoints a panel president. Selections can be challenged.

Impartiality and independence of judges is one of the few grounds for appeal to the Swiss supreme court, Duval noted.

Infantino was UEFA general secretary in 2014 when he got involved in an agreement with City to forfeit $21.8 million of Champions League prize money in a first test of FFP rules. City’s high-value sponsorship deals from Abu Dhabi were also a factor then.

The settlement agreement six years ago then avoided a higher-stakes legal case for UEFA which could have undermined the FFP system just as it was established.

A CAS panel in 2016 upheld the UEFA rules’ compliance with European law in Galatasaray’s failed appeal against a one-season competition ban. There is speculation CAS judges could rule City’s two-year ban “disproportionate” and give a compromise verdict of only one season. However, Galatasaray, AC Milan and other clubs that broke financial rules were excluded for one year in cases that lacked the bad faith UEFA found in City’s conduct.

“It makes much more sense that Man City should face a longer sanction,” Duval said.

City’s lawyers, however, could question why UEFA dropped an FFP investigation into Qatari-owned Paris Saint-Germain last year with no action taken.

No timetable for City’s case was put forward by CAS on Wednesday. Previous appeals by clubs in UEFA financial cases were dealt with after a few months in June or July to avoid harming the next season’s competitions.

Soriano, the Man City chief executive, said he hoped for a resolution “before the beginning of the summer” in a statement notably toned down from previous, aggressive club comments.

Saudi Arabia vs Mexico: How to watch live, stream link, team news

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Mexico needs a win to have hope of reaching the World Cup knockout rounds, while Saudi Arabia’s hopes of the final 16 may require the same at Stadium 974 in Doha on Wednesday.

The Saudis stunned Argentina 2-1 In Lusail to open the tournament but could not repeat the feat against Poland at Education City in Al Rayyan on Saturday to leave themselves with three points through two matches.

STREAM LIVE SAUDI ARABIA vs MEXICO

Mexico remains without a win after their scoreless draw versus Poland led to a Lionel Messi-inspired loss to Argentina In Lusail.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub ]

Here is everything you need for Saudi Arabia vs Mexico.


How to watch Saudi Arabia vs Mexico live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 2pm ET, Wednesday Nov. 30
Stadium: Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

The Saudis have arguably been the most fun team at the tournament amongst non-powers, always running and getting exceptional goalkeeping. Salem Al-Dawsari was very good in both games but his missed penalty before halftime against Poland looms large of a match that could’ve been 1-1 going to the break and instead ended 2-0.

Mexico has not scored at the tournament so far, and Raul Jimenez has only been used as a super sub. Hirving Lozano and Alexis Vega combined for just three shot attempts before being subbed out of the Poland loss, while Lozano and Henry Martin combined for two versus Poland (Vega attempted five). They need better up top to keep up their streak of making Round of 16 appearances at the World Cup.


Saudi Arabia quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 51
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 5
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from AFC (Won Group B)
Coach: Herve Renard
Key players: Salem Al-Dawsari, Fahad Al-Muwallad, Mohammed Al-Owais

Mexico quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 13
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 16
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from CONCACAF (2nd place)
Coach: Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino
Key players: Guillermo Ochoa, Hector Herrera, Raul Jimenez

Poland vs Argentina: How to watch live, stream link, team news

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Poland and Argentina surely didn’t plan to reach the marquee match of World Cup Group C with their knockout round status in doubt, but it’s been that kind of tournament in Qatar.

Poland remains unbeaten in Qatar after beating Saudi Arabia 2-0 in Al Rayyan, adding to the point it earned from a scoreless draw with Mexico In Doha to give it top billing in the group heading into Wednesday’s match.

STREAM LIVE POLAND vs ARGENTINA

Argentina, meanwhile, rebounded from a 2-1 tournament-opening loss to Saudi Arabia In Lusail to bear Mexico 2-0 behind a goal and an assist from Lionel Messi.

Saudi Arabia’s three points means it can still advance with a win over Mexico, who itself can add to its one point. So everyone’s alive in Group C.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub ]

Here is everything you need for Poland vs Argentina.


How to watch Poland vs Argentina live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 2pm ET, Wednesday, Nov. 30
Stadium: Stadium 974, Doha – 2pm
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

The storyline for every Argentina game this tournament from this point forward — and really since the lead-up to the Mexico match — is that any loss means the end of Lionel Messi’s World Cup career (at least according to the living legend). The Albiceleste would be thrilled to get something more out of Lautaro Martinez, while Paulo Dybala’s yet to make his tournament debut.

Robert Lewandowski finally has a World Cup goal on his resume, while Piotr Zielinski has been very good for Poland. Former Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny was sensational in the win over Saudi Arabia.


Poland quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 26
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 8
How they qualified: Qualified from UEFA via playoffs, Path B
Coach: Czeslaw Michniewicz
Key players: Robert Lewandowski, Wojciech Szczesny, Piotr Zielinski

Argentina quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 3
World Cup titles: 2 (1978, 1986)
World Cup appearances: 17
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from CONMEBOL (2nd place)
Coach: Lionel Scaloni
Key players: Lionel Messi, Angel de Maria, Lautaro Martinez

Portugal vs Uruguay: How to watch, live stream link, team news

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Portugal looks to seal its fate in the World Cup Round of 16 by piling pressure on Uruguay when two titans of the sport meet in Lusail on Monday.

Portugal outlasted Ghana 3-2 in Doha to open its tournament with a big win that featured a controversial penalty for Cristiano Ronaldo, while Uruguay staged a scoreless draw with South Korea.

STREAM LIVE PORTUGAL vs URUGUAY

It’s a group that never looked easy and is looking more and more like a “Group of Death” as the World Cup rolls through Qatar in its typically tense fashion this month and next.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub ]

Here is everything you need for Portugal vs Uruguay.


How to watch Portugal vs Uruguay live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 2pm ET, Monday Nov. 28
Stadium: Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

Everyone’s going to keep looking at Cristiano Ronaldo — it’s difficult not to turn your head with all the “Look at me” nonsense — but Bruno Fernandes is the real string-puller here. He’s playing well with Ruben Neves, while Ruben Dias and the back line will look to tighten things up after letting Ghana stay in the game.

Uruguay hero Luis Suarez has been here before, but his supporting cast is as good as ever. Rodrigo Betancur and Jose Maria Gimenez give La Celeste a chance at clean sheet every time they take the pitch.


Portugal quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 9
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 8
How they qualified: Qualified from UEFA via playoffs
Coach: Fernando Santos
Key players: Cristiano Ronaldo, Ruben Neves, Bruno Fernandes, Joao Cancelo

Uruguay quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 14
World Cup titles: 2 (1930, 1950)
World Cup appearances: 14
How they qualified: Qualified from CONMEBOL
Coach: Diego Alonso
Key players: Luis Suarez, Federico Valverde, Darwin Nunez, Rodrigo Betancur

Brazil vs Switzerland: How to watch, live stream link, team news

Brazil vs Switzerland live
Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP via Getty Images)
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Opening match winners Brazil and Switzerland meet Monday at Stadium 974 in Doha.

FIFA world No. 1 Brazil broke through pesky Serbia for a 2-0 win In Lusail to start the tournament as Richarlison scored two goals — one a ridiculous bit of technique — to get the Brazilians off on the right (and left) foot.

STREAM LIVE BRAZIL vs SWITZERLAND

Switzerland meanwhile used a 1-0 defeat of Cameroon to claim three points and set up Monday’s win-and-in match.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub ]

Can Neymar-less Brazil take the next step toward a sixth World Cup? Here is everything you need for Brazil vs Switzerland.


How to watch Brazil vs Switzerland live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 11am ET, Monday Nov. 28
Stadium: Stadium 974, Doha
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

Brazil will not have Neymar for this one and likely the rest of the group stage as the oft-fouled magician felt the sting of Serbian tackles in the opener. The Brazilians have had to play without their captain before and have a wealth of attacking options, but who will join Richarlison in providing the goals in a Ney-less attack.

The Swiss have all the tools to hang with Brazil, but how physical will they want to make it for the favorites? Granit Xhaka will be one to watch as the underdogs try to balance a desire to get forward with the danger of doing so against a potent Brazil.


Brazil quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 1
World Cup titles: 5 (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002)
World Cup appearances: 22
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from CONMEBOL (1st place)
Coach: Tite
Key players: Neymar, Thiago Silva, Casemiro, Alisson Becker

Switzerland quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 15
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 12
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from UEFA (1st place)
Coach: Murat Yakin
Key players: Granit Xhaka, Xherdan Shaqiri, Yann Sommer, Remo Freuler