G14 clubs join battle against Fifa regulations

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The Independent Football

The case has been described as "Bosman-esque" for its potential to invalidate football's regulations. If successful, it could ultimately deprive international sides of many of their star players unless their clubs' financial demands are met.

Charleroi are suing Fifa because their Moroccan international, Abdelmajid Oulmers, sustained torn ankle ligaments while playing for his country against Burkina Faso last November and was subsequently unable to play for eight months. Charleroi claim that Fifa's player regulations governing international duty, which state no compensation is due to clubs by national associations for using players, let alone for players being injured during international matches, are illegal.

Articles 36-41 of the regulations not only force clubs to release players without payment but give Fifa the power to sanction clubs if players are not released.

G14, which has already filed a legal complaint about the regulations with the Swiss authorities, added its considerable weight to Charleroi's case yesterday, announcing it was joining Charleroi's legal action.

"As it is G14's wish to seek a once and for all clarification if these regulations are legal, it is sensible for us to join this case," Thomas Kurth, G14's general manager, said. "Fifa's regulations come from a time when they were perhaps appropriate but many things have changed and we believe they may now infringe the law."

A G14 spokesman added that the case is based on the belief that Articles 36-41 are illegal under European law because Fifa is abusing its dominant position by making unilateral rulings on the release of players. Charleroi and G14 both argue that Fifa is acting, contrary to law, as both regulator and commercial agent, and that that is a breach of competition law.

The next significant date in the case, which began unfolding in Charleroi's Commercial Court on Monday, is 19 September, when a detailed timetable for the hearing will be decided.

* Fifa plans to establish a special task force to investigate the prevalence of bribery, betting, match-fixing and money-laundering in the game, and to examine the multiple ownership of clubs. The task force will be established at Fifa's Congress in Marrakech next week and will be backed by Uefa, the governing body of European football.

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