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.

Internacional falls 1-0 to Athletico-PR in Copa do Brasil first leg

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21-year-old Bruno Guimaraes scored a ripper as Athletico-PR beat Internacional 1-0 in the first leg of the Copa do Brasil first leg in Curitiba.

The game’s lone goal came off a failed clearance as Internacional center-back Rodrigo Moledo stepped up and didn’t get the ball further than Marco Ruben who fed the ball through for Guimaraes to finish with a thump.

Both sides have seen an up-and-down league campaign, with Internacional sitting sixth and Athletico in ninth, but they have both been stellar in cup action. The two have downed the likes of Gremio (11th in Brazilian Serie A), Palmeiras (3rd), and Flamengo (1st).

The home side held 66% possession throughout the match, but it was far from pretty. Athletico committed 18 fouls to Internacional’s six and were out-shot 11-9 (3-2 on target). Peruvian captain Paolo Guerrero started for Internacional, notable given he has been in and out of the lineup this season, but came up empty just as he did in the Copa Libertadores quarterfinal loss to Flamengo.

 

Copa America team of the tournament announced

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The 2019 Copa America team of the tournament has been announced, and Lionel Messi hasn’t been included in the best XI.

Hmm. I wonder why…

Messi slammed CONMEBOL officials and referees for “corruption” and said the tournament was “fixed” for Brazil to win it.

That led to South America’s governing body releasing a statement defending its officials and a ban is likely coming up for Mr. Messi. So, yeah, he’s not in the team of the tournament and his one goal in six games could also suggest why that was the case.

The Selecao did win the tournament, beating surprise finalists Peru 3-1 in the final, as the hosts were dominant throughout.

Five Brazilian players feature in the team of the tournament with Alisson, Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, Arthur and Everton all included. But Gabriel Jesus and Roberto Firmino both had very good tournaments for the hosts, while Alexis Sanchez also had his moments before he suffered an injury.

Peru’s Miguel Trauco and Paolo Guerrero were also in the best XI, while James Rodriguez from Colombia, Leandro Paredes from Argentina, Chile’s Arturo Vidal and Uruguay’s Jose Gimenez are all the lone representatives from their nations.

Below is the team of the tournament in full.


2019 Copa America Team of the Tournament

Goalkeeper: Alisson
Defenders: Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, Jose Gimenez, Miguel Trauco
Midfielders: Arthur, Arturo Vidal, Leando Paredes
Forwards: Everton, James Rodriguez, Paolo Guerrero

Jesus scores, assists, sent off as Brazil beats Peru in Copa America final (video)

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Gabriel Jesus assisted on the opening goal and scored the winner before being sent off in Brazil’s 3-1 victory over Peru in the final of the 2019 Copa America on Sunday.

[ VIDEO: Watch the USWNT lift the World Cup trophy ]

The triumph is Brazil’s ninth as South American champions (sixth of the Copa America era) and their first since 2007. It’s the first time Brazil has lifted the trophy on home soil since 1989.

The scoring began quickly — though, not quite as quickly as when Brazil beat Peru 5-0 during group play — courtesy of Everton, in the 15th minute. Jesus floated a ball to the back post and Everton slotted it home with a powerful finish just inside the near post.

Peru drew level not long before halftime, thanks to a handball by Thiago Silva. Paolo Guerrero stepped up to the spot and converted the penalty kick in the 44th minute.

The 1-1 scoreline didn’t quite last until halftime, though, as Jesus tucked a tidy finish into the back of the net in the third minute of first-half stoppage time. Arthur dribbled past a whole host of Peruvians before slipping a tough pass through to Jesus near the edge of the box.

The red card came midway through the second half. Jesus had been clattered into moments earlier, prompting him to raise his elbow as he went up for an aerial duel. It was a hard foul with clear intent, plenty worthy of a yellow card — his second of the game. Clearly upset at the decision — or, maybe himself — Jesus melted down as he left the field (WATCH HERE) before he was seen crying atop the stairs inside the tunnel at the Maracana.

Richarlison tacked on a penalty kick in the 90th minute, resulting from a highly questionable decision by the referee. It was a shoulder-to-shoulder challenge that seemed to heavily favor the home team.

Copa America Roundup: Suarez misses and Peru advances to semifinals

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Luis Suarez, the hero for many years for Uruguay in international tournaments, ended up making the key mistake that sent his team home.

Along with a great save from Peru goalkeeper Pedro Gallese, Suarez’s miss in the penalty kick shootout and five-straight makes from Peru led the La Blanquirroja over Uruguay, 5-4 on penalty kicks to advance to the 2019 Copa America semifinals. Despite all the attacking talent on the field, the match was deadlocked at 0-0 after 90 minutes, leading to a penalty kick shootout.

[READ: USMNT’s Weah joins Lille in Ligue 1]

Edison Flores of Morelia in Liga MX scored the game-winning penalty kick with a strike right down the middle, one that Fernando Muslera dived away from and couldn’t adjust his leg to block it. Suarez was captured by video after the final penalty kick in tears on the field, his dream of another Copa America title crushed by his own mistake.

Suarez and his strike-partner Edinson Cavani will rue the chances they had earlier in the match to score, as Peru’s defense was in the “bend, but don’t break” mode. Midway through the first half, Suarez dribbled through a string of Peruvian defenders in the box before centering the ball. Cavani met it at the edge of the six yard box but couldn’t get the shot on a bouncing ball down, going over the bar.

Uruguayan midfielder Georgian De Arrascaeta, just two minutes later in the 29th minute, had a goal disallowed because the man who passed it to him, Nahitan Nandez, was offside when he received the ball initially.

In the second half, Suarez found his veteran teammate Diego Godin but he also missed on his shot in the box, blasting it over Gallese’s goal. Soon after, Uruguay had another goal disallowed after Cavani was ruled offside before scoring a terrific curling effort.

Uruguay had a third goal called back, this time from Suarez as he was just a step offside past the Peru backline.

Uruguay went first in the penalty kick shootout and paid for it, as Suarez missed on his strike to the left side of the net, leading to a mid-section save by Gallese. Cavani, Cristhian Stuani, Rodrigo Betancur and Lucas Torreira all scored for Uruguay, but Peru made all five of its shots. It started with Paolo Guerrero, the Seattle SOunders Raul Ruidiaz and former Orlando City midfielder Yoshimar Yotum. Luis Advincula scored past Muslera with a terrific shot into the corner before Flores sent Peru to the semifinals.

Up next, Peru faces Chile on Wednesday in Porto Alegre, joining Brazil v. Argentina as the other Copa America semifinal.