The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has rendered its decision in the case involving the Brazilian football player Matuzalem, FC Shakhtar Donetsk, Real Zaragoza SAD and FIFA following the decision of Matuzalem to terminate his contract with Shakhtar Donetsk. CAS has determined that an amount of EUR 11,858,934 has to be paid by Matuzalem to Shakhtar Donetsk as compensation for unilateral breach of contract.
FIFA considers this decision to be very important, as it gives clear and strong support to the FIFA regulations and defends contractual stability in football.
In particular, this decision, at its outset, once again underlines that article 17 of the FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players does not give a free pass to unilaterally breach a contract. In fact, the decision concerned confirms that any player in breach of contract must pay financial compensation to his former club.
Furthermore, CAS confirms that article 17 of the aforementioned regulations cannot be interpreted as a simple buy-out clause for players for a predeterminable amount of compensation. This is a major conclusion. In other words, football players in a valid and ongoing employment contract hence do not carry a price tag with which they could be offered in the football market.
On the contrary, this CAS decision in fact shows that the compensation payable in case of a unilateral breach of contract must be calculated in each case individually on the basis of the specific circumstances of the case concerned. Furthermore, when establishing the compensation payable by the player, the decision in question also takes into consideration the specificity of sport, which FIFA deems very important and appropriate.
What is more, this decision passed by CAS also confirms, once again, that the new club of a player that has breached an employment contract, in this case the club Real Zaragoza SAD, is jointly liable for the payment of the compensation for breach of contract, regardless of any involvement in the breach or inducement of the player to breach his contract.
Considering the decision passed by CAS in the Matuzalem case in general, FIFA is satisfied that its efforts to defend contractual stability in the world of football are backed by CAS. In fact, this is an issue in which it is crucial that FIFA, representing the entire football world, and CAS are pulling in the same direction.