There have been interesting developments at the Court for Arbitration for Sport (CAS) based in Lausanne, Switzerland: a more political than legal dispute only adding to the worsening of Serbia’s and Kosovo’s already tense political relations.
In May 2016, Kosovo became 55th Member of the UEFA by a decision passed by 28 to 24 votes.
Serbia claimed the decision was reached in violation of the UEFA statute and filed an appeal.
The UEFA Statute is straightforward and provides that only associations of the UN Member States can be UEFA Members. Serbia claims that Kosovo could not have been admitted to UEFA as it is not a UN member. There were certain interest groups which had sought to amend the UEFA statute, but all of the attempts had failed.
Tomislav Karadzic, President of Serbia’s football federation at the time said that this was a “political vote, not a footballing proposal”. This decision is relevant for Kosovo since it would allow it to join FIFA – a fast-track road to the 2018 World Cup qualifications.
As a reminder, the Court for Arbitration for Sport is an institution independent of any sport organization which provides services to facilitate the settlement of sport-related disputes though arbitration or mediation. It was created in 1984, has nearly 300 arbitrators from 87 countries and approximately 300 cases are registered each year. Any individual or legal entity with capacity to act can refer a case to CAS, including athletes, clubs, federations and organizers.
The Serbian appeal of the UEFA decision on Kosovo’s admission is certainly a more political than legal issue. It remains to be seen how the arbitral tribunal will handle these issues.