What options does Vuskovic’s team have?
Mario Vuskovic, who claims his innocence, has hired several lawyers who, in principle, have two defense options in the ongoing proceedings before the DFB Sports Court.
On the one hand, there would be an “attack” on the test procedure. If the Vuskovic party can prove that a procedural or formal error occurred in the sampling and/or analysis, an acquittal would be possible.
Secondly, the legal adviser can try to prove that the 21-year-old did not intentionally, ie unknowingly, take the doping substance. It could at least reduce the sentence, which is usually four years.
However, with respect to Epo, which is administered intravenously or by injection into the skin, doping experts are unaware of any history of mixing the substance with food or ingesting it without it. namely with drugs used to treat a medical condition.
In all cases, the burden of proof rests with the athlete.
What options does HSV have?
The club currently operates on two tracks. HSV claim to support Vuskovic but have also asked for expert advice themselves.
If Vuskovic is convicted by the DFB, the second division football club can terminate the Croatian’s contract, which runs until June 30, 2025, without notice. Under sports law, the defender would have terminated his contract “without valid reason”, that is to say, having broken it. In this way, HSV could initially save the defender’s salary.
Could HSV get compensation?
Under German law, the club’s options under civil law are not very promising, but the FIFA regulations offer a starting point under sports law.
According to article 17 of the ‘The Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players’ state that ‘the defaulting party is liable to pay compensation’. Unless contractually agreed otherwise. This also includes “the amount of fees and expenses for which the former club paid”.
HSV could therefore take legal action against Vuskovic to FIFA and demand compensation for the transfer fee paid. The amount of damages suffered by the club would be based on FIFA law and the corresponding judgments of the International Court of Arbitration for Sport CAS (the last instance of sports law) on the basis of the transfer costs which have not yet been amortized. For the calculation, the transfer fee is spread over the entire duration of the contract.
In March 2022, HSV Vuskovic signed Hajduk Split after a first loan, gave the Croatian a three-year contract until 2025 and, according to the media, paid a transfer fee of around three million euros. In the event of termination of contract by HSV after Vuskovic’s probable conviction and suspension by the DFB in January 2023, two and a half years would not have paid – or around 2.5 million euros in transfer compensation.
The catch: If HSV wins millions in damages – possibly also before the CAS, where proceedings would end if Vuskovic objects – anyone can guess whether the Croatian would then be financially able to repay the club.
Are there comparable examples?
In a sense yes. In October 2004, Chelsea FC released Adrian Mutu and sued for damages. The Romanian tested positive for cocaine (a doping offence) and was banned for seven months.
It wasn’t until 2003 that Chelsea signed the outstanding kicker for around €20m from AC Parma. FIFA upheld the English Premier League club’s lawsuit and ordered Mutu to pay €17.2 million in damages for breach of contract.
The Romanian resisted the verdict for years through all instances. However, the International Sports Court, the Swiss Federal Tribunal as the appeal chamber of the CAS and, in 2018, even the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg (ECHR) rejected Mutu’s appeal.
However, it’s unclear if Chelsea have received any money from Mutu so far or if the two sides have reached an amicable settlement.
Could HSV also get compensation for the lost resale?
Theoretically it is also possible. The so-called “positive interest” can be fixed in court. All benefits that the contractor would have received had the contract been properly performed are recorded. In Vuskovic’s case, it would be what the club could have earned had the player not been harmed in a resale.
However, only specific offers, if possible in writing, would be legally binding. It is documented that the defender has aroused the desires of other clubs with his good performances. One wonders if HSV already had a corresponding concrete offer of one million dollars on the table before Vuskovic’s positive A sample was released in mid-November.
Even if that were the case, it would also be doubtful whether the court would still accept written offers from July 2022.
How long can the whole “Vuskovic case” and the proceedings last?
A possible compensation procedure at FIFA lasts about six months at best. If Vuskovic were to appeal to the CAS, the review of the judgment should take a good year. At the International Sport Court, a panel of three judges would hear the case – one each from HSV, the player and CAS. The verdicts are generally unanimous.
In this way, the years pass quickly before the last word is spoken. In the case of Adrian Mutu, 14 years elapsed between Chelsea FC’s complaint to FIFA and the final verdict of the European Court of Justice.
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