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Context of 'Summer 2011: Swiss Club Apparently under Transfer Embargo Signs Several New Players'

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FIFA’s Dispute Resolution Chamber hands down a ruling punishing the Swiss club FC Sion and its Egyptian goalkeeper Essam El Hadary over Al Hadary’s transfer from the Egyptian club Al Ahly in February 2008. The goalkeeper is banned for four months, starting from the next season, and Sion is ordered to pay Al Ahly a transfer fee of US$1.25 million and also prevented from registering new players for two transfer windows, i.e. more than a year. The move was illegal under FIFA regulations because El Hadary was under contract with Al Ahly and there was no agreement between the clubs. FC Sion says it will appeal the ruling. (BBC 6/2/2009; Court of Arbitration for Sport 6/1/2010 pdf file)

The Court of Arbitration for Sport rules against the Swiss club FC Sion and its goalkeeper Essam El Hadary in a dispute over the player’s transfer from the Egyptian club Al Ahly two years ago. The decision confirms a ruling of FIFA’s Dispute Resolution Chamber (see April 16, 2009) that ordered compensation to be paid to Al Ahly for the transfer and banned Sion from signing new players for two transfer windows. Although the original ruling is altered in some minor ways, the transfer ban remains in force. (Court of Arbitration for Sport 6/1/2010 pdf file)

The Swiss club FC Sion, which has been prohibited by the game’s ruling bodies from signing new players (see June 1, 2010), buys no new players during the winter transfer window. The only change the club makes during this period is that the player Didier Crettenand is given a new contract. (Swiss Football League 2011) However, the club will buy players during the next transfer window, breaching the transfer ban (see Summer 2011).

FIFA reminds the Swiss club FC Sion that it will be under a transfer ban in the summer 2011 transfer window, according to a later interview with FIFA’s director of legal affairs Marco Villiger. (Villiger 9/30/2011) However, Sion will sign players in the window (see Summer 2011), leading to a dispute (see September 2, 2011).

The Swiss club FC Sion signs several new players, despite an apparent transfer ban. The new players are Guilherme Afonso (from Lugano), Pascal Feindouno (Monaco), Gabriel Garcia De La Torre (aka “Gabri,” Umm-Salal), Stefan Glarner (Thun), José Gonçalves (St. Gallen), Billy Ketkeophomphone (Strasbourg), and Mario Mutsch (Metz). (Swiss Football League 2011) The transfer ban was to last for two transfer windows (see April 16, 2009 and June 1, 2010). Sion signed several players the previous summer (see Summer 2010), but nobody arrived during the winter transfer window (see January 2011).

The qualification committee of the Swiss Football League rejects requests by FC Sion for the registration of six newly-signed players: Stefan Glarner, Pascal Feindouno, José Gonçalves, Gabriel Garcia De La Torre (a.k.a. “Gabri”), Billy Ketkeophomphone, and Mario Mutsch (see Summer 2011). This is due to a transfer ban imposed on Sion for a rule breach by FIFA (see April 16, 2009). (Swiss Football League 7/15/2011)

The Civil Court of Martigny and St. Maurice orders FIFA, the FIFA subsidiary Transfer Matching System GmbH, and the Swiss Football League to allow six FC Sion players to play with immediate effect. The players were signed during a transfer ban (see Summer 2011), so FIFA claims they cannot be fielded, and the Swiss Football League had ruled to this effect (see July 15, 2011 and July 29, 2011). However, the league’s rulings are now overturned. (FIFA 11/18/2011) Two days later, the Swiss Football League issues a statement saying that the players can be used until a further court ruling. (Swiss Football League 8/5/2011) The same judge will later affirm his ruling (see September 27, 2011), but it will be overturned by a higher court (see November 16, 2011).

FIFA president Sepp Blatter says that civil courts should not be used in the dispute with the Swiss club FC Sion. Although operating under a transfer ban (see April 16, 2009), Sion signed several new players (see Summer 2011) and used them to secure a place in the Europa League (see August 25, 2011), which UEFA is now reviewing. “Tell me,” says Blatter, “on what grounds we should grant an exception to a club where millions of others follow the rules?” He adds: “I like the way [FC Sion owner Christian] Constantin makes things happen generally, but one of the fundamental principles of football is not using the civil courts with our internal regulations. FIFA judged the case and found Sion guilty.” (Jardine 8/29/2011)

UEFA throws the Swiss Club FC Sion out of the Europa League for fielding ineligble players. The players were ineligible because they were signed during a transfer ban imposed on the club (see Summer 2011) as punishment for rule-breaking (see April 16, 2009). The players played in a two-legged playoff tie with Celtic, and UEFA now awards each leg to the Scottish club 3-0. (UEFA 9/2/2011) Sion will appeal the ruling, but the decision will stand (see September 13, 2011).

Six players from the Swiss club FC Sion appeal bans imposed on them by the disciplinary committee of the Swiss Football League. The five-match bans were imposed on the six, Pascal Feindouno, Gabriel Garcia De La Torre (a.k.a. “Gabri”), Stefan Glarner, José Gonçalves, Billy Ketkeophomphone, and Mario Mutsch, in a dispute over whether they were signed while Sion was under a transfer ban (see Summer 2011). The players and the club now appeal this decision to the league’s appeal tribunal. (Swiss Football League 10/2011)

A Swiss appelate court, the Tribunal Cantonal Valais, overturns lower court rulings favorable to the football club FC Sion in a dispute with FIFA and UEFA. A lower court had twice ruled (see August 3, 2011 and September 27, 2011) that players FIFA declared ineligible because of a transfer ban on the club (see Summer 2011) could actually play. FIFA welcomes the ruling, stating, “The Cantonal Court has thus indirectly taken the same view as FIFA and the [Swiss Football League] and its ruling has indirectly confirmed the legality of the transfer ban FIFA imposed on [FC Sion].” (FIFA 11/18/2011)

The Swiss Football League rejects appeals against the results of matches in which players signed by FC Sion during the summer transfer window played. The club was apparently operating under a transfer ban when it signed the players (see Summer 2011). The league’s disciplinary committee rejects appeals by Sion against the results of two games with BSC Young Boys on July 23 and December 4. Sion played these games without its six disputed signings. The protest is rejected because at the time of the first game none of the players was validly registered, and they were not allowed to play in the second game following a Swiss court decision adverse to Sion (see November 16, 2011). Protests by other Swiss clubs against the results of matches in which the six disputed players were involved are also rejected. A protest by Grasshopper Club of Zurich is dismsised for formal reasons. Protests by FC Lausanne-Sports, FC Thun, FC Basel, and FC Lucerne are dismissed because at the time of the games between FC Sion and these clubs the Swiss league was allowing the six to play because of orders from Swiss courts (see August 3, 2011 and September 27, 2011). These decisions can be appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. (Swiss Football League 12/12/2011) The committee will issue a similar ruling concerning another FC Sion match soon after (see December 23, 2011).

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