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Chelsea cannot make CAS appeal of transfer ban until 6-month FIFA appeals process is complete


Chelsea v Sheffield Wednesday - FA Cup Fourth Round Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

FIFA’s extraordinary decision to break with their own precedent and not suspend the transfer ban while Chelsea’s appeal of it is ongoing has landed with a shock this morning. So what’s next?

Chelsea can (and probably will) also appeal the decision at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), but as our good friend (and WAGNH alum) Jake Cohen points out, Chelsea cannot appeal the appeal until the first appeal is completed. FIFA’s decision is not suspend the ban is not the end of that first appeal unfortunately (they’re still going through the pantomime of considering Chelsea’s appeal to actually reduce it).

This seems logical indeed — is logic still a thing in this matter? — and it would make sense that a partial decision of an appeal that’s still in progress cannot be appealed. In other words, Chelsea can’t appeal to CAS about FIFA’s decision to not suspend the ban until FIFA are done with the entire appeal. In previous cases, that’s taken at least 6 months, though maybe they’ll discard precedent in that aspect now as well?

Quite clearly FIFA aren’t going to lift the ban or even reduce if they’re this adamant about enforcing it straight away.

As Jake says, Chelsea will still be preparing to conduct business as usual this summer, but we’re fully at the mercy of FIFA’s timing. If the FIFA appeals process wraps up quickly (i.e. before the summer), Chelsea can launch the CAS appeal and (probably) get the ban suspended — the assumption is that CAS are a more impartial, non-corrupt, and reasonable body. If FIFA take the full 6+ months, Chelsea won’t be able to sign (register) new players this summer and maybe winter as well (the ban is supposed to be two consecutive windows — would a CAS appeal be able to suspend it mid-ban?)

But FIFA have done us no favors so far, so we probably shouldn’t expect them to start now. I’m fully expecting them to take their sweet time in handing down the full decision that would complete their appeals process.

They appear to be framing this as some noble “change of philosophy” with those running the show at the famously corrupt organization now different from those who were running the show when Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Atletico Madrid were allowed to conduct business as usual while their appeals for similar infractions were ongoing. But that alone doesn’t explain why Chelsea are being treated differently. One could argue that FIFA are making an example of Chelsea with harsh(er) punishment, but after not doing so in the cases of two of the three biggest clubs in the world, it’s hard to see how singling out Chelsea — a big club, but hardly on the level of the Spanish giants — is at all fair.

Sure, Chelsea broke the rules, or so FIFA claim — presumably we didn’t break FA rules, notably, as English football’s governing body were also fined in this process — and we must be made to pay. But the punishment isn’t going to be immediate by definition (some of these supposed infringements go back a decade), and FIFA going out of their way to break precedent and enforce a decision that’s under appeal is extraordinary, to say the least.

(One, more reasonable way to handle this, and one that would be breaking so drastically with legal norms, would be to extend the length of punishment if FIFA believe the appeal to be frivolous, for example.)

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