Didier Drogba – Galatasaray FC’s marquee signing, which could inadvertently lead to their expulsion from the Champions League

Schalke FC has today complained to UEFA about the inclusion of Didier Drogba in their Champions League game against Galatasaray on Wednesday night. The reasons behind this provide a good and interesting opportunity for the rules of the game to be examined.

Schalke’s protest is based on the fact that Drogba did not have international clearance from UEFA to play in the Champions League until after the deadline date for registering players, being the 31 January 2013. He agreed to join Galatasaray – affectionately known as ‘the Lions’ – on 28 January 2013, three days before the registration deadline. However, due to his contractual issues with his previous club Shanghai Shenhua, he did not receive his international clearance from UEFA until 13 February. Importantly, he was not eligible to play for Galatasaray at all until the 13 February.

The 31 January Champions League deadline for registering players for the last 16 phase of the competition is absolute under the laws of the game, and cannot be extended for any reason. Based on Schalke’s protest UEFA will now have to examine this issue. Taking into account similar previous cases, and considering a broad interpretation of UEFA governance, it is likely the issue will come down to when the Lions submitted Drogba’s Champions League registration paperwork to UEFA. If before the 31 January, then UEFA may well allow his inclusion; if after 31 January then Galatasaray will likely find themselves in hot water. If found in breach of the UEFA rules by fielding an ineligible player in the form of Drogba in Wednesday’s game, the very least they can expect is expulsion from this season’s Champions League.

Some would consider Schalke’s actions as being nothing short of sour grapes or ‘grassing’, but this is an incorrect view. The rules are the rules and they cannot be enforced arbitrarily. Look at the example of Bradford FC, who were removed from the FA Cup for fielding an illegible player. I hope for Galatasaray’s sake that whoever was tasked with submitting Drogba’s paperwork to UEFA did their job correctly, in a timely manner. Blaming a faulty fax machine, or non-working emails (see Benjani’s move to Sunderland in 2010) is unlikely to hold much sway with UEFA.

John Spyrou

Head of Media and Sports Law @ Pinder Reaux

@john_spyrou

Pinder Reaux & Associates

Business Services News


Read Next

Testimonials


What people say

"We shall, no doubt, be engaging you again soon"

"The matter was concluded very successfully and I’d like to thank John and Wilson again for their helpful and highly professional work earlier this year."

Alex Bailey, Trichromic LLP'

"Great Source of Support"

"You have essentially achieved what we had set out to do. Thank you for all of your assistance in this matter. Throughout this ordeal, you have been a great source of support."

Mary Anne Poutanen, Canada

"I could not have chosen a better firm to represent me."

"You provided the key essentials (and more) for client satisfaction. I am extremely pleased with the services provided by your company and the legal team provided for me. To also turnaround my situation making it a positive outcome, I could not have chosen a better firm to represent me."

Marvyn Smith, London

"I would recomend this service to anyone who has a legal matter"

"I'm so glad I had this advice before my CMD. I was very much prepared and think my company (whom I'm taking to a tribunal) were shocked at my knowledge. I would recommend this service to anyone who has a legal matter."

Jacqueline Stevenson, Bristol

"Can’t wait for another session!"

"John Spyrou kindly offered to provide our publishing firm with an update on libel and defamation law. Those who attended - a mix of veteran editors and those new to the world of journalism - all said how practical and useful they found the training – and now can’t wait for another session!"

Paul Snell, Redactive Media Group

"Highly recommended"

"Alana & Pinder Reaux’s level of service has been exceptionally high. Always keen to help out with the work in an efficient manner. Highly recommended."

Trading Point of Financial Instruments UK Ltd

"Fast and Reliable"

"Fast and reliable notary service for notarisation/legalisation of College reports for foreign office and embassies."

Student Services Department, CATS College London

"One step ahead of the opposition"

"'John Spyrou has the ability to pre-empty arguments and see issues before they arise, thereby allowing him to be one step ahead of the opposition’"

Christopher Bovey, Angelbird Technologies GmbH