In the middle of last month, CAS announced the result of the judgment to the public, but at that time we could only deduce the situation that may arise in the arbitration from the result of the judgment. At the end of last month, the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) published the content of the arbitration judgment between Manchester City and UEFA on its official website. Now we can interpret the content of the verdict and see how Manchester City avoided the severe punishment of missing the European war.
One more thing is that the arbitration judgment not only has 93 pages, but the PDF file provided by CAS is also unable to retrieve the scanned copy of the specific text content, which is different from the format they usually publish.
First of all, we still have to start with the reasons why Manchester City applied for arbitration. This arbitration is the second arbitration initiated by Manchester City against UEFA in CAS, and the reasons for the two are different.
The Investigation Office decided to re-investigate the financial fraud problems in Manchester City based on the content leaked by the Football Decryption website, and submit the Referral Decision to the Ruling Office, and rejected the request of Manchester City to suspend the trial.
Manchester City appealed to the investigative office’s punishment opinions because they were unable to make their own interpretation of the case after the case entered the adjudication office trial stage, but at this time the case did not finally reach a specific punishment conclusion.
In February of this year, the ruling office made a final penalty decision (Appealed Decision) for the investigation office's penalty opinion after restarting the investigation, and then UEFA officially announced the result. Manchester City appealed this penalty to the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS). This time Manchester City is targeting UEFA's final punishment result after the end of the case trial process.
Before entering the core topic, we need to add a background content and the determination of evidence in the trial.
As we all know, before Manchester City was punished by UEFA in February this year, they had encountered UEFA punishment for financial problems during the same period. Under the FFP mechanism, the club can reach a settlement with the investigative office of the CFCB, an independent institution under UEFA, and "confess guilt" in a compromise manner, thereby seeking a lower level of punishment.
From a standpoint, in the final analysis, FFP is a rule that encourages clubs to operate in a healthy financial situation. Therefore, UEFA does not want to “kill” the club in this way. They seem to be looking for an attitude.
In 2014, Manchester City reached a Settlement Agreement with the Investigation Office. Under the settlement agreement, in order to meet the FFP balance of payments requirements, Manchester City and UEFA have reached a special settlement mechanism (Settlement Regime) in terms of financial accounting, which has clear and special restrictions on the club’s financial situation. . Both parties withdrew from this accounting mechanism in 2017.
In the course of this trial, whether the leaked email can be used as evidence has become a key topic before the arbitration enters the core issue. Both Manchester City and UEFA have given their own interpretations.
Manchester City did not deny or acknowledge the authenticity of the contents of the leaked emails. They only stated that these emails were obtained by illegal hackers. Manchester City believes that leaked emails cannot be used as evidence, because the rights of Manchester City as an individual are more protected than public interests.
UEFA believes that public interest is based on facts, and based on the facts of this case, the public interest here is higher than Manchester City’s interest in protecting the confidentiality of their business communications.
The first is the authenticity of the mail. The CAS arbitration panel believes that since Manchester City finally submitted the unedited mail as evidence, there is no problem in terms of authenticity.
However, the fourth email still covers part of the smeared area. In addition, Manchester City did not provide the content of the attachment to the third email. Manchester City also stated that the contents of the leaked emails submitted in the arbitration are true.
Compared with the content of the emails submitted by Manchester City, the content of the leaked emails that the media broke before was selected from specific emails and deleted specific information. However, the CAS arbitration panel determined that this does not affect the accuracy of the leaked emails based on UEFA's previous penalty.
Manchester City subsequently stated that based on the Portuguese court's judgment on the hackers involved, the access to the leaked emails was illegal, so it could not be used as evidence against the victims.
The CAS arbitration panel believes that the information used by UEFA in the process of investigation and punishment is available to the public, so there is no illegal hacking in UEFA itself.
In addition, according to Swiss law, such evidence is acceptable; CFCB procedures and regulations do not restrict this method of obtaining evidence.
Then entered the core part of the arbitration. Manchester City and UEFA faced off on a total of 7 issues. Let's take a look at the contents below.
Manchester City pointed out that the investigative office had prematurely made a penalty opinion to prevent the club from explaining the key issues in the case, and believed that the ruling office had pre-set incorrect assumptions when making the penalty decision. UEFA believes that there are no flaws in the trial process.
The CAS arbitration panel believes that the leaked emails showed Manchester City’s related party transaction issues, but even if there were no leaked emails, the relevant still exists. The Investigation Office and the Adjudication Office have reason to conclude that Manchester City has issues with related party transactions. The party failed to fulfill the obligation of notification.
In addition, Manchester City believes that the investigative office's early disclosure of handling opinions has adversely affected Manchester City. According to the FFP's case trial process, the final trial results will not be released until the ruling office has reached a final conclusion, but some media broke the news when the investigation office was about to reach a conclusion.
In this appeal, Manchester City also mentioned this when it involved related parties, and questioned the fairness and confidentiality, which was also the issue that Manchester City raised when it first appealed to CAS last year. UEFA once again emphasized that there is no problem with its trial procedures.
The CAS arbitration team believes that regardless of whether the staff of the investigation office leaked the information, it will not affect the impartiality of their penalties; the occurrence of leaks will not invalidate the penalties of the adjudication office.
Manchester City believes that UEFA's investigation violated the previous settlement agreement and the CFCB's approach is not in compliance.
In April 2017, the Investigation Office confirmed that Manchester City had completed the final goals set in the settlement agreement in compliance with the settlement agreement, and in accordance with the procedures, withdrew from the accounting mechanism required in the content.
Simply put, Manchester City believes that the club has been punished and rectified in accordance with UEFA's requirements for the previous problems, and the club does not need to accept a second penalty.
The CAS arbitration panel believes that the new evidence that appears later may lead to differences in the results of the investigation. Therefore, the investigation office and the CFCB may change the punishment when establishing the settlement agreement.
However, it should be noted that the legality of the new evidence is not discussed here.
Manchester City believes that the adjudication office has exceeded the five-year time limit set by the FFP when making a penalty decision. Manchester City said in a reverse way that since the penalty results were announced on February 14, 2020, according to the five-year time limit, the cases that UEFA can investigate and prosecute should occur after February 14, 2015.
UEFA believes that this time point should be calculated when the investigation office starts the investigation, so it does not violate the investigation time limit. The investigation started on March 7, 2019, so the cases after March 7, 2014 did not exceed the time limit.
Subsequently, the CAS arbitration panel interpreted the difference between "prosecution" and "sanction".
However, they also believe that UEFA's investigation of a club does not mean that the prosecution must be made at the same time. The establishment of the time limit period is fundamentally for legal certainty. In order to avoid uncertainty and suspicion, the investigation phase should also be counted within the five-year time limit.
From this extension, the CAS arbitration team pointed out that UEFA seems to be deliberately operating at this point in time to avoid possible problems. Their settlement agreement with Manchester City was reached on May 16, 2014, and after the resumption of the investigation, the investigation office submitted its handling opinions on May 15, 2019, just one day ahead of the five-year time limit.
From this point of view, in order to avoid violating the five-year time limit, UEFA deliberately let this time point fall within the validity period of the settlement agreement.
However, it is inferred that Manchester City’s financial report submitted after May 2014 was approved by the Manchester City Board of Directors on October 9, 2014, so the submission to UEFA will only be later.
Therefore, the ruling office's penalty decision for Manchester City's violations during this period of time is within the time limit, in other words, compliance.
The FFP supervision period of the 2014-15 season involves the fiscal years ending in May 2014 (T), May 2013 (T-1) and May 2012 (T-2). The period is within the time limit, and the relevant financial information submitted by Manchester City is after May 15, 2014.
However, the CAS arbitration panel believes that for the violation issue, although the relevant time point was not calculated from March 7, 2014, but on May 15, this year, this did not cause any impact on the handling decision made by the ruling office. Substantial difference.
In the end, the CAS arbitration panel determined that the violations involved in the two financial reports of T-2 and T-1 were beyond the time limit, while the financial report of T was within the time limit.
From an extended point of view, the financial report information involved in the supervision period of the 2013-14 season is outside the time limit, while the supervision period of the 2014-15 season is the opposite.
Then there is a problem: since the financial report content during the supervision period of the 2013-14 season exceeds the time limit, the content submitted in the 2014-15 season also includes the content of the two fiscal years of T-1 and T-2. The content of the fiscal year exceeded the time limit in the previous regulatory period, but has not exceeded the time limit in the latter regulatory period, so does the time limit for prosecuting the content exceed the time limit?
The CAS arbitration panel believes that in the case of duplicate content in the two regulatory periods, it should be handled in the first submission. Since the previous regulatory period has exceeded the time limit, the content submitted in the latter regulatory period The existing duplicate content also exceeds the time limit.
On the one hand, UEFA has the responsibility to prove Manchester City’s violations, while on the other hand, Manchester City believes that the ruling office did not correctly implement the standards for obtaining evidence when making a penalty decision, and said that the ruling office should have known it long ago. When collecting evidence, we must adhere to the principle of "the more severe the accusation, the more reliable evidence is needed."
Manchester City believes that the club faces the most severe punishment in FFP, so the standard of evidence collection should be raised accordingly.
Obviously, Manchester City is here to point the finger at the credibility and legitimacy of the evidence. They believe that the evidence that UEFA has obtained against Manchester City is based entirely on leaked emails, which are indirect evidence collections. They also took out the 2011 arbitration verdict of former AFC President Harman and FIFA and Russian skier Alexander- An example of the 2017 arbitration judgment between Lefkov and the International Olympic Committee.
Of course, there is no specific discussion of the content of the mail. At this point, the CAS arbitration panel believes that the adjudication office has the ability to make amendments based on the penalty opinion and finally make a penalty decision, so it has the ability to judge the source of evidence.
Subsequently, regarding the content of the leaked email, the arbitration parties and the CAS arbitration team discussed the value of the evidence behind it.
In the explanation of the punishment results of the ruling office, they stated that the leaked email content provided direct evidence of the violation. The case was neither a conclusion based on inference nor circumstantial evidence.
However, the CAS arbitration panel did not support this statement. They believe that Manchester City should not be sued for trying to cover up the content of the sponsorship agreement, but for submitting inaccurate and incomplete financial information;
UEFA needs to prove whether the sponsorship issue discussed in the leaked email really exists and is implemented. The leaked email alone is not sufficient evidence.
From the perspective of witness testimony, since the parties who collected the evidence were all stakeholders of Manchester City, including the club's senior management and the sponsor's senior management, it is fair to see that all witnesses would deny the capital injection. But frankly speaking, in addition to witnesses from the club's affiliates, it seems difficult to collect evidence from other witnesses.
From the perspective of accounting evidence, Manchester City invited senior executives from Arrow Platinum to attend by video conference call, and submitted a summary report based on Ernst & Young's audit report.
Although this report seems flawless, UEFA and the CAS arbitration panel both pointed out that the Ernst & Young report is not an independent third party in nature and therefore has limited persuasive power, and believes that it is still insufficient to fully explain Manchester City at the time. There is no problem of invisible capital injection.
But in the same way, the CAS arbitration panel also believes that the experts invited by UEFA conducted the investigation with the premise that Manchester City have hidden capital injection, and therefore they are also not convincing. Since the chain of evidence has not been formed, it is difficult for UEFA to attack Manchester City from this perspective.
On this issue, UEFA first stated that Manchester City had repeatedly refused to answer relevant questions, provide relevant documents, and refused to arrange relevant personnel to attend the investigation, and even arranged for the experts they hired to cover up on certain specific issues. , To avoid positive answers. However, judging from the content of the penalty decision, Manchester City only failed to perform their duty of cooperation in two specific areas.
One is the wrong interpretation of the collection. The two payments involving Emirates Telecom received by Manchester City in 2012 and 2013 are related to UEFA allegations.
UEFA pointed out that the information in this area does not match what they were told at the time and penalized based on it. However, due to the time limit exceeded, UEFA's penalty in this regard is untenable.
And UEFA also has flaws in the investigation process, which has made a wrong understanding. Therefore, the CAS arbitration panel believes that Manchester City cannot be punished based on this situation.
The second is the lack of cooperation between Manchester City in the investigation. According to the CAS arbitration team, Manchester City did not submit all the investigation materials to the CFCB. In this arbitration, Manchester City submitted some evidence that the CFCB never received.
However, the arbitration panel determined that Manchester City should not be punished for failing to submit the complete leaked email content (because it not only contains content related to Manchester City’s FFP, but also other information) and content unrelated to the case.
Nevertheless, when it comes to some of the key evidence in this case, the situation began to be disadvantageous for Manchester City.
First, when the CFCB investigated the parties in the leaked email, Manchester City ignored them, but they appeared as witnesses in the arbitration.
Second, in one of the leaked emails, the word "Muhammad" was mentioned. The chief investigator once sent a letter to inquire who the name corresponds to Manchester City, and asked the club to make clarification and explanation. However, Manchester City also chose Do not respond, but choose to express in this arbitration.
Third, the chief investigator once asked Manchester City to provide complete and accurate leaked emails. However, Manchester City only partially met the CFCB's requirements in the arbitration a year later. The CAS arbitration panel believes that the chief investigator’s request is reasonable. Based on the relevant provisions of the FFP, Manchester City has no reason to refuse such a request for evidence collection (it is not difficult to speculate that the difference here is that it involves financial information related to Manchester City. In the content of the email, Manchester City needs to provide accurate and detailed information to the CFCB).
The CAS arbitration panel believes that UEFA’s main penalty was based on Manchester City’s cover-up of invisible capital injections when receiving sponsorships from Etisalat and Etihad. It submitted inaccurate financial information, but this was rejected by them.
They said that all sponsorship issues involving Etihad Telecom exceeded the time limit, while the sponsorship issues involved in Etihad partially exceeded the time limit, and the evidence in this trial was not sufficient to show that Manchester City did indeed have implicit capital injection. It is impossible to conclude that Manchester City violated the rules in this regard.
However, they believed that Manchester City had failed to cooperate in the CFCB investigation and talked about the issue that the content of the leaked email was not released to the CFCB in a timely manner.
1. The arbitration panel found that the CFCB did not act ultra vires during the investigation, which is in line with procedural justice
2. The previous settlement agreement between Manchester City and UEFA does not prevent UEFA from prosecuting and punishing the possible violations of Manchester City during the arbitration.
3. Manchester City's two financial reports as of May 2012 and May 2013 involved content that exceeded the five-year time limit, but the violations involved in the financial report as of May 2014 did not Time limit exceeded
4. The content of the financial information submitted by Manchester City during the supervision period of the 2013-14 season exceeds the five-year time limit, but the content of the supervision period of the 2014-15 season does not
5. The financial information of the same fiscal year involved in the two regulatory cycles needs to be investigated based on the situation when it was first submitted
6. The investigation into the sponsorship of Etisalat’s cover-up of capital injection has exceeded the five-year time limit
7. In this arbitration, the content of the leaked email is admissible evidence
8. In the process of this arbitration, the CAS arbitration panel could not determine that the sponsorship received by Manchester City from Etihad included the invisible capital injection from Chief Mansour/ADUG
9. The CAS arbitration panel believes that Manchester City did not cooperate with the CFCB investigation on two different issues.
10. The CAS arbitration panel ruled that it is appropriate to punish Manchester City by 10 million euros
11. Manchester City initiates an arbitration with CAS regarding the penalty decision, and it shall pay UEFA EUR 100,000 as compensation for CFCB litigation costs
After the verdict was released, some people claimed that 2 of the 3 members of the CAS arbitration panel were appointed by Manchester City, indicating that from this perspective, the arbitration was unfair from the beginning. But this statement seems to be different from the actual situation.
According to R40 of the "Sports Arbitration Code", when three arbitrators form an arbitration panel, each party shall appoint one, and the other shall be elected by the two arbitrators upon mutual agreement. Judging from the content of the judgment, it notes that UEFA has no objections after Manchester City elects one person, and it is finalized.
And here "Man City" and "UEFA" should also refer to the arbitrator appointed by both parties, so this point is not a problem in terms of procedure.
After UEFA made a penalty decision, Manchester City decided to initiate an arbitration in CAS. In the period between the penalty decision and the start of the arbitration, UEFA conducted evidence collection based on the previous evidence and did not further excavate new evidence.
Judging from the content of the judgment, UEFA has actually realized that Manchester City will add new evidence, and they hope to end the arbitration as soon as possible to avoid affecting the new season, so I hope that the arbitration performance will not become more complicated.
UEFA suffers more than this. Some people say that Manchester City wins by numbers, saying that they have sent a team of up to 12 lawyers, while UEFA has only 6 people.
On the other hand, UEFA does have the problem of lack of skills, because shortly after the conclusion of this arbitration, the arbitration between UEFA and Trabzonspor in CAS also came to a result. They need to face The challenge is not only for Manchester City.
It is not difficult to find that the witnesses on the Manchester City side have a clear interest relationship, so they will inevitably protect the interests of Manchester City.
In this arbitration, under the premise of limited leaked emails, it is difficult to make a breakthrough in obtaining evidence from witnesses. The CAS arbitration panel believes that the report provided by the consulting company hired by Manchester City is not convincing. If this standard is followed, the witness testimony is also true.
The CAS arbitration team even believes that the content of the email can only indicate the existence of such an arrangement but cannot determine whether it is actually implemented. It can be said that although Manchester City was once in a disadvantaged position that “leaked emails can be used as evidence”, they cleverly combined the email with other Fragmentation of the evidence makes it lose its relevance.
Therefore, even if judging from the content of the leaked emails, the public generally believes that Manchester City has covered up capital injections, but from the perspective of the trial, it seems that only by further digging the content of other emails can it be truly in the framework of the Sports Arbitration Code and FFP The next attacked them on the issue of whether Manchester City violated the rules.
However, as mentioned above, in order to avoid further impact on the Champions League, UEFA did not pursue further investigations from the perspective of new evidence. In an ideal state, UEFA could not compromise, but they are now facing more than just Manchester City's problems.
Soon after the verdict was announced, Der Spiegel once again issued an article to refute a series of statements and testimonies that Manchester City was free from suspicion in the verdict, and showed the contents of the emails that were not published in the trial and previous reports.
For this part of the content, if you want to know, I can make another article to analyze it according to the situation. However, the dispute between Manchester City and UEFA over previous violations may come to an end here.