By Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw
For twenty years, the Gibraltar Football Association (GFA), which was founded in 1895, has sought to become a full member of UEFA and FIFA, the European and World Governing Bodies of Association Football.
On 24 May 2013, as a result of an earlier CAS arbitration, it became a member of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) and went on to seek membership of FIFA.
On 26 September 2014, the FIFA Executive Committee informed the GFA that the requirements for admission to FIFA were not met and that it would not submit the GFA’s application to the FIFA Congress, the body authorised to admit new members to FIFA.
The GFA filed an appeal against this decision at the CAS, arguing that FIFA improperly rejected its application and that the CAS should directly award it with FIFA membership.
The CAS procedure was conducted by a Panel of three CAS arbitrators comprising: Prof. Massimo Coccia, Italy (President); Prof. Jan Paulsson, France; and Mr Bernhard Welten, Switzerland.
The Panel found that the CAS did have jurisdiction to entertain the appeal and accepted that the GFA’s application should have been transferred to the FIFA Congress.
However, the CAS Panel refused to directly grant FIFA membership to GFA. Accordingly, the Panel unanimously ordered on 2 May, 2016 that the FIFA Congress shall take all necessary measures to admit the GFA as a full member of FIFA, without delay and within the limits of the FIFA Statutes.
The GFA was admitted as a full member of FIFA on 13 May, 2016 at the FIFA Congress held in Mexico.
The CAS GFA/FIFA Award of 2 May, 2016 has not yet been published, but some revelatory details included in the Award have emerged in an article by Brian Reyes entitled ‘Tucked into CAS judgement, a landmark statement on Gibraltar’s rights’ and published in the ‘Gibraltar Chronicle’ Newspaper on 25 August, 2016.
You can read this most interesting article and also some comments made on the case by the Gibraltar Attorney General, Michael Llamas, QC, by logging onto ‘http://chronicle.gi/2016/08/tucked-into-fifa-judgement-a-landmark-statement-on-gibraltars-rights/’.
Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw is an International Sports Lawyer, Academic, Author and a Member of the Court of Arbitration for Sport. He may be contacted by e-mail at ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’.