The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) is an international body set up in 1984 to settle sport-related disputes.
Many international sports organizations, administrators and athletes have turned to the (CAS) to bring resolution to disputes where they felt that they were subjects of a raw deal.
The CAs has its headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland but its courts are to be found in Sydney, Australia, New York, United States of America, and Lausanne. The CAS, which is the brainchild of Juan Antonio Samaranch, was originally intended to only deal with disputes arising during the staging of Olympic Games but has since undergone reforms aimed at making it more independent of the IOC.
There have been several high profile cases in the past and recently former Vice President of FIFA Mohamed Bin Hammam of Qatar, a former President of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and vice president of FIFA has decided to challenge the life ban imposed on him by FIFA in the CAS.
Bin Hammam was banned for life by FIFA following allegations that he bribed football administrators from the Caribbean in his bid to unseat incumbent president Sepp Blatter from the post of FIFA. The incident was said to have occurred in May this year during a special Congress in Trinidad and Tobago.
Similar to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, the CAS stands out as the main body dealing with sports-related disputes and is sports final court of appeal.
Around the world most sports disputes are settled within the very organization that govern the sport. More often than not those seeking to overturn whatever penalties they have incurred often do not find the decisions going their way.
This has resulted in those persons turning to the courts to have the matters resolved.
Take Guyana for instances, there have been recent cases involving football and cricket, the two most popular sports disciplines in the country. The recent disputed Guyana Cricket Board (GCB) Annual General Meeting (AGM), was challenged by an official of the Berbice Cricket Board. In addition, there has also been a ferocious struggle for leadership within the Demerara Cricket Board which is also engaging the law Courts.
But, despite the Court’s ruling on the matter brought by the BCB member and the setting up of an interim management committee the issue rages on.
The issue with football is no different since the largest affiliate of the Guyana Football Federation (GFF), the Georgetown Football Association (GFA) has been denied voting and other constitutional rights by the GFF and has again moved to the Court to settle the matter.
Because of the Court matter, the GFF cannot hold its Annual Congress to elect a President, Vice President and Organising Secretary as is constitutionally due.
This matter could drag on due to the sloth in the Court process locally which could work in favour of suspended GFF President Colin Klass who could return to office unscathed after serving a 26-month suspension imposed by FIFA if there is no speedy resolution.
It still boggles the mind why FIFA has not yet intervened in Guyana’s dispute.
The world body had intervened in a previous dispute in Guyana by sending a team to investigate and bring a resolution to the problems that had plagued the Klass administration at that time. FIFA statutes are clear and all football matters must be resolved within FIFA, the only other alternative is the CAS.
FIFA has even overruled the Court in the matter with suspended CONCACAF vice president Lisle Austin, who was given a reprieve by a Court in the Bahamas yet his ban by the world governing body was upheld.
The recent Austin issue has brought into focus the need for the establishment of a Conflict Resolution Body for sports within the region with branches in the various territories including Guyana.
The region is rapidly becoming a powerhouse on the international sports arena and Regional governments and sports administrators must move away from their archaic thinking and be proactive if they need to see progress. There is definitely a need for a body similar to the CAS in Guyana and the wider Caribbean to deal with sports issues and this should be the thinking within the region.