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September 30, 2011: FIFA Official Says FC Sion Case Threatens ‘Autonomy of the Sport’

Marco Villiger, FIFA’s director of legal affairs, gives an interview to the organization’s website on the dispute between FIFA and UEFA on the one hand and the Swiss club FC Sion on the other. Villiger says that by involving civil courts in the dispute, Sion is “irresponsible” and has done an “enormous amount of damage” to “the autonomy of the sport” and also to Swiss football. He adds that the civil actions have caused “chaos” and comments: “If every club went to a local court when they disagreed with something, international football would no longer be possible. Arguments over the games which involved ineligible players will continue long after this case is closed.” He also discusses FIFA’s communication policy on the case, saying, “Normally FIFA does not comment on ongoing cases, but we are being a little more open about this one because the other side have been so aggressive in the media.” Villiger also hints that FIFA is displeased with the Swiss FA’s handling of the matter, saying that member associations are responsible for enforcing FIFA’s decisions: “If an association chooses not to enforce it, it’s up to us to sanction them. Possible sanctions include suspensions, expulsion from competitions, and so forth. If we can no longer enforce decrees, the whole system is in danger.” (Villiger 9/30/2011) FIFA will later make such a threat against the Swiss FA explicit (see December 17, 2011).

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