Why UEFA are right to clamp down on Chelsea over Courtois

Saturday 12 April 2014

/ by Colin Udoh

This was not supposed to be necessary.

UEFA's statement clearing goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois to play against his parent club Chelsea should have put to rest any doubts about the Chelsea/Atletico/Courtois conundrum.

Apparently, it didn't, as arguments on Twitter and Facebook continued to rage, especially with irate Chelsea fans questioning UEFA's legal and moral stance.

Soon after Chelsea and Atletico Madrid reached the UEFA Champions League semifinal, it emerged that the loan contract between the two clubs included a financial restriction on goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois playing against the Blues.

Apparently, the London club had inserted a clause in the loan agreement which allowed Atletico to field Courtois against the London club only on payment of a €3m fee per game.

Atletico president Enrique Cerezo confirmed a day after qualifying that Courtois would not play because 'It is a figure that we cannot pay.'

Cerezo's statement, it's timing and word choice is not only important, but one suspects, somewhat calculated.

It proves without any shred of doubt that Atletico's ability to select Cortouis for one or both games, is dependent on their ability to meet Chelsea's fee demands. Which they cannot.

This is in direct contravention of Art 18 bis of the FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players

“Third-party influence on clubs.

1. No club shall enter into a contract which enables any other party to that contract or any third party to acquire the ability to influence in employment and transfer-related matters its independence, its policies or the performance of its teams.”

Clear. Unambiguous.

Cerezo in effect told the world that Chelsea (a party to their contract with Courtois) have limited/influenced Atletico's ability to field Courtois in two specific matches, compromising the Spanish club's independence in an 'employment' and 'performance' matter.

UEFA had no choice but to act, especially in the light of their own competition regulations, specifically Art 3.01.

Art 3.01

a) No club participating in a UEFA club competition may, either directly or indirectly: 

iii) be involved in any capacity whatsoever in the management, administration and/or sporting performance of any other club participating in a UEFA club competition or

iv) have any power whatsoever in the management, administration and/or sporting performance of any other club participating in a UEFA club competition.

All clubs not only received the documents containing these regulations prior to the start of the competition, they also signed up to abide by them, and to the jurisdiction of the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Admittedly, Uefa opened themselves up to ridicule with their handling of the Celtic case earlier in the campaign.

But, according to the rules, Chelsea's Courtois clause means the London club would compromise Atletico's independence as a club.

It was a no brainer.

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