Sunday, September 21, 2008

Misusing the tools of justice...

I am on my way to Zurich for a meeting on Tuesday of the Players Status Committee. I am the Deputy Chairman of that Committee and have been so through three Chairmen, Slim Aloulou of Tunisia, Gerhard Meyer-Vorfelder and the current holder of the chair, England's Geoff Thompson.

I must say that prior to the Olympics, I was totally shocked when I got a call from the Associated Press, asking me what I knew about a single judge making a decision in the matter of the release of players for the Olympics. I knew nothing about it. Furthermore, I knew that when we created the role of the Single Judge, as part of a pre-DRC (Dispute Resolution Chamber) Players Status Committee world, the stated intention of that post was to handle the overflow of routine cases which came before the PSC and were easily resolved based on fact.

Yes, before the DRC, all Player disputes came before the full committee. As time went on and the backlog grew, it was clear that most of these could be handled administratively, but should have the stamp of the Chairman of the Committee in a newly formed capacity of Single Judge.  All major matters were still to have been brought before the full Committee or Bureau for action.

Many years later, I find that when convenience suits the cause, our institutions can be misused for purposes of expediency or worse. In the matter of the release of Olympic players I choose not to declare which, only that it was wrong. Wrong to take the matter to the Single Judge; wrong to have taken the position that decisions which we spent considerable time on creating, such as the International Calendar, were no longer of any relevance since it didn't suit the interests of some people who preferred to claim that night was day.

The members of the PSC were duly proud of its record and the overwhelming confirmation that it received from CAS (Court of Arbitration in Sport) on decision after decision which found its way there on appeal. I had no doubt that the claim being filed by AC Milan and the German Clubs against FIFA would be upheld since there was no basis to believe otherwise. Indeed, I had in advance of any decision taken by FIFA advised the Administration that what was being sent to the Emergency Committee had not basis and the references to prior practice preceded the application and use of the International Calendar.

So, why then the use of Single Judge.  Logically, the PSC was the place to review the application of the International Calendar and the release of players.  The Single Judge was the wrong instrument. It is my intention on Tuesday to make this very point. The Single Judge must be restricted to function within the original intent of the Committee exclusively on simple and routine matters. Otherwise, the rest of us don't need to bother to make the trip.

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