Bojanovic & Partners has successfully represented football player Nemanja Nikolic in CAS arbitration between him and Israeli club Hapoel Tel Aviv.
According to Bojanovic & Partners, in Israeli law “football clubs do not have legal capacity/subjectivity outside the realm of football and are therefore not registered in any registry except for the Israeli Football Association. Thus, the clubs are only ‘brand names’ owned by companies that possess ownership and managing rights over the clubs. In January 2017, a liquidation procedure was initiated before the state court in Israel, due to the financial hardship of the company that was owning said rights over Hapoel Tel Aviv. Soon afterward, the legal counsel appointed by the liquidators of the club’s owner unilaterally terminated the contract with Nikolic, deeming it an ‘onerous asset.’ In February 2017, the state court in Jaffa rendered a decision whereby Hapoel Tel Aviv was sold to new owners."
According to the firm, “in March of 2018, Nikolic lodged a claim to the FIFA Dispute Resolution Chamber, [but] Hapoel Tel Aviv did not take part in the proceedings. Instead, the legal counsel appointed by the previous owner of the club objected to the DRC jurisdiction, invoking: (i) the clause which allowed the club to unilaterally terminate the contract under certain terms, and (ii) the insolvency as a just cause for termination under Israeli law and the FIFA RSTP. In May of 2019, the DRC rendered a decision in favor of Nikolic. During the CAS arbitration, Nikolic requested that the appeal be rejected since it was submitted by a third party and not Hapoel Tel Aviv. One of the main points made was related to the eventual enforcement of the CAS award – given that the players generally enforce the FIFA and CAS decisions through the sporting bodies (FIFA and national federations) and rarely through the state courts, the legal framework in which the Israeli clubs operate was irrelevant. Namely, should Hapoel Tel Aviv fail to comply with the decision, Nikolic would ask FIFA to impose a sporting sanction on the club, however, FIFA does not have the power to sanction the company that operates the club. At the latest stage of the appeal process, the club’s new owners issued a power of attorney to the same legal counsel, nevertheless, the CAS concluded that the current owner of Hapoel Tel Aviv does not suddenly become a party to the proceedings by issuing a power of attorney.”
The Bojanovic & Partners team was led by Partner Filip Blagojevic.