Due to the flexibility that mediation provides it is an ideal vehicle for resolving disputes in such a nuanced, complex, yet competitive and dynamic world as football.
Whilst arbitration (and in extreme cases litigation), provides ways to resolve a dispute; it is restricted by the resolutions and solutions that can be applied under the law and also appropriate rules, regulations and sanctions. In addition to this, arbitration and litigation are often subject to long and complex processes and procedures before a ‘hearing’ can be undertaken, let alone an actual judgement reached or an award given.
Mediation works on the premise that there is no judgement by the mediator (who remains independent and impartial), and they merely help facilitate the disputants reaching their own solution and subsequent settlement agreement -which means there isn’t a ‘loser’ in mediation. In fact, there are 2 winners as a result of a settlement from mediation, in that both disputants can walk away, if not happy then at least mildly mutually satisfied.
Mediation lends itself well to resolving internal disputes, disputes between rivals and disputes between different football stakeholders and participant groups, such as :
Agent (intermediary) player disputes have increased quite significantly in recent times since the change in FIFA regulations in 2015, which saw a change from ‘player agents’ to ‘football intermediaries’. And with the new football agent regulations imminent player agent disputes may well increase.
Like any workplace, a football club will experience disputes both with its own employees and between employees within the club; these disputes whereby they affect the playing/sporting aspect of the club can be hugely damaging for both the club and the employee (i.e. player).
The increasing involvement of football agents (intermediaries) in club affairs in football extends far beyond that of negotiating a playing contract on behalf of a player, it now involves a complicated interrelationship between clubs and agents.
This alternative dispute resolution mechanism (mediation) allows the parties to put an end to their controversies with the assistance of a mediator in a swift and efficient manner.
As part of the constant effort to modernize and provide efficient service to parties and stakeholders, FIFA has recently included the possibility to solve the parties’ disputes through mediation.
Inter-agent disputes are something that are more often than not resolved ‘behind closed doors’ and possibly even out of the sight of the football authorities, but can be very distressing if not damaging.
It is impossible to get away from the fact that football is competitive both on the pitch and off it, from results, to commercial aspects, and as such inter club disputes often arise.
Football has become one of the most commercially lucrative sports in the world, with such partnerships and arrangements increasing in number, complexity and application.