As Turkey's shooting a Russian jet was more than enough to
add another variation into the equation of world politics in the
last month, Kremlin issued a decree consisting of numerous
sanctions against its second largest trading partner, Turkey. Not
too surprisingly, sanctions cover mostly economic topics such as
limiting presence of Turkish workers in Russia, banning Turkish
exported goods and suspension of visa-free regime implemented in
However, repercussions of the incident have been expanded. On
29th of November, Vitaly Mutko, Russian Minister of Sports and the
President of the Football Union of Russia, has announced that as a
result of sanctions in force, Russian clubs are banned to sign any
Turkish players during the winter break season.
Saying that clubs 'already received the message', Mutko
added that 'If anyone wants [to sign a Turkish player] during
the break, there will not be such a possibility. Everyone who has
an existing contract will carry on working. They won't be here
in the future but at the moment they have contracts and these will
not be looked into.' Although it sounds nothing but a political
statement; approach and legislative instruments of international
governing bodies of sports as well as academic accumulation
regarding the position of sports law encourages a brief
Since the statement and the Minister's other professional
position immediately brings one's attention to football, so
let's take a look into FIFA Statutes. Article 13 of the April
2015 edition of the Statutes stipulates Members' obligations.
Specifically letter (i) of the same article states that members
shall manage their affairs independently and ensure that their own
affairs are not influenced by any third parties. Moreover, second
paragraph of the Article states that a violation of the
above-mentioned obligations by any Member may lead to sanctions
provided for in these Statutes, whereas violations of Par. 1 (i)
may also lead to sanctions even if the third-party influence was
not the fault of the Member concerned.
In light of the aforesaid framework, it is seen that member
federations shall preserve their independence while governing and
regulating football nationwide, as well as refraining from anything
which could potentially associate their titles with the influence
of third parties. Indeed, in the recent Kuwaiti example, it is seen
that FIFA enforces a strict policy to make its members maintain
their independence, especially if independence of the related body
is explicitly associated with any third party interference.
Now, where do these put the Russian Football Federation ?
There could easily form two schools on the matter, as one
acknowledging the legality of the ban by qualifying players as
workers under Russian Law and pursuant to the Presidential Decree,
and the other emphasizing the importance of protecting independence
of a FIFA member, Russian Football Federation, without violating
applicable legal instruments.
For the sake of safeguarding the principle of regulatory
independence of the related body, which is of utmost significance
for development of sports law as an independent area of substantive
law, some advisory points in relation with the second approach
shall be made.
First of all, asportslegislation
could be introduced by Russian legislator in order to provide a
liberal governance framework for these bodies. Indeed, taking into
account that political traditions are built on a strong loyalty in
Eastern communities, it would prove to bring sustainable results
which grant development of Russian sports on administrative
In the same vein, a modern law could make the Russian State
unreluctantly refrain from interfering with sports administration.
As such 'government-effect' also hindered initial phases of
Turkish sports organization and gave result to a patchwork regime
which is remote from a modern establishment of sport, an immediate
prioritization within the Russian legislator shall be made.
Strikingly, recent report of the Independent Commission of WADA,
too, confirmed deep interference of Russian government into ARAF
and RUSADA, which caused failure of these bodies to fulfil their
obligations towards WADA and consequently provisional suspension of
Russia by the IAAF. From an objective point of view, occurrence of
the same for the Russian Football Federation is not an unlikely
Therefore, in order to guarantee global development of a
sustainable and independent sports administration which would
promisingly resume to build a modern sports regime, steps shall be
taken with prudence and strategic planning. Here, the most
important point is only to observe the fundamental goal of sports:
unify citizens of the world and maintain peace.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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