Contractual Issues

FIBA Hands Down Array of Rulings and Awards

The following article was written by Spencer Wingate.

FIBA serves as the governing body for international basketball. The association regulates 213 National Federations of basketball throughout the world. In 2006, the FIBA Arbitral Tribunal was established to settle disputes amongst players, clubs, and agents through arbitration. In 2010, the name was changed to The Basketball Arbitral Tribunal (BAT). The tribunal offers a forum for disputes between players, agents, and clubs to be resolved.  The process is fairly simple, as a request for arbitration is filed.  Then the BAT President appoints an arbitrator to hear both the legal and factual arguments from each side. Afterwards, the arbitrator makes a ruling in favor of one party and determines the costs that must be paid. FIBA recently announced the results of several cases, as summarized below.

Zohnova v. Athinaikos Sony Athens

Czech player Katerina Zohnova filed a claim against the Greek Club Athinaikos Sony Athens for outstanding salaries. The arbitrator, Mr. Ulrich Haas, ruled in favor of Zohnova.  In accordance with Article 16.2 of the BAT rules, he issued an award to her without reason. According to Article 16.2 of the BAT rules, when the value in question does not exceed €30,000, the arbitrator makes a ruling without presenting a reason. A reason is only needed if one of the parties files a request from the time an arbitration request is filed to ten days after the ruling. The only other means to obtain a reason is if a party pays the advance costs as determined and within the time limit set by the BAT secretariat. In this case the costs were set at €5,000 on January 16, 2012. Since neither condition was met, the arbitrator’s ruling came without reason. Athinaikos Sony Athens was ordered to pay Zohnova €7,200. Additionally, the team has to pay her interest of 5% per annum since March 1st 2011 on the amount of €4,100 along with 5% per annum since March 31, 2011 on the amount of €3,100. The cost of arbitration before the ruling was determined at €3,500, which Athinaikos has to pay Zohnova. Furthermore, Athinaikos must pay Zohnova €4,427.24 in legal fees and expenses.

Williams v. BC Politekhnika-Halychyna Ltd, Lazorko

American player Nicholas Mack Williams filed a claim against the Ukraine club BC Politekhnika-Halychyna and Alexander Lazorko for outstanding salaries. The ruling again fell under Article 16.2 of the BAT rules, as the amount in question did not exceed €30,000. The arbitrator ruled BC Politekhnika-Halychyna is to pay Mr. Williams $18,761. The club also must pay him 5% interest per annum on $5,000 since August 22, 2010, 5% interest per year on $2,761 since February 16, 2011, and 5% interest per year on $11,000 since May 16, 2011. The cost of arbitration prior to the award paid to Mr. Williams is €2,986.57. Williams will additionally receive €1,500 for legal fees and expenses.

Court Side v. BC Krasnye Samara

Courtside, a Dutch player agency, filed a claim against Russian club BC Krasnye Krylia Samara for unpaid agent fees. The proceedings led to the parties reaching a settlement and the arbitrator, Mr. Klaus Reichert, issuing a consent award. The two sides reached an agreement prior to the formal arbitration hearing. According to BAT Rule 17.2, since the arbitration request had already been sent, the tribunal was required to stipulate costs to be paid. The Russian club was ordered to pay Courtside a total of $58,000 in four installments. They also were required to pay $4,000 to the agency for legal fees and arbitration costs.

Diamantakos v. Syrian Basketball Federation

Greek coach Ioannis Diamantakos filed a complaint against the Syrian Basketball Federation for outstanding salaries. According to Article 16.2 of the BAT rules, the arbitrator issued an award to Mr. Diamantakos without reason. The Syrian Basketball Federation must pay the coach $21,000 net of taxes along with interest at 5% per annum on the amount since July 4, 2011. For his legal fees and expenses, the federation owes Mr. Diamantakos €4,000. Diamantakos will also receive 3,800 for the cost of arbitration prior to the ruling.

TP Sports v. Zhedik

The Russian player agency TP Sports filed an arbitration claim against Natalia Zhedik for failure to pay his agent fees. Following under Article 16.2 of the BAT Rules, the arbitrator issued an award to TP Sports without reason. Mr. Zhedik must pay TP Sports 935,000 rubles along with interest of 5% per annum starting on May 2nd 2011. TP Sports will receive €5,500 for legal expenses and fees from Zhedik as well. The agency will receive further compensation in the amount of €5,000 for costs preceding arbitration.

Bavic, MEGA Basketball LLC, BeoBasket Ltd v. BC Union Olimpija Ljubljana

Bosnian-Herzegovinian player Edin Bavcic, MEGA Basketball LLC, and player agency BeoBasket Ltd filed a claim against Slovenian club KK Union Olimpija Ljubljana for a variety of reasons. They received a consent award for outstanding salaries, consideration for the grant of promotion rights, and agent fees. Throughout the proceedings a settlement was agreed upon. The arbitrator, Mr. Quentin Byrne-Sutton, then formally issued a consent award. The complainants requested an arbitration hearing on November 25th 2011. By February 2012 the dispute was settled. BC Union Olimpija was ordered to pay Bavcic €71,000 by April 2012. BeoBasket LTD discarded their request for the club to pay €10,000 and Mega Basketball LLC did the same but in the amount of €56,000. BC Union Olimpija must pay BeoBasket LTD 5,000 by April 30th 2012 for the costs of arbitration.

Hammon v. BC Nadezhda

Russian-American player Rebecca Hammon filed a claim for outstanding and future salaries against Russian club BC Nadezhda. Hammon had signed with BC Nadezhda on April 30, 2010 for two seasons. She asserted her termination by the club was without cause. The club ascertained they had grounds for termination. They stated Hammon failed to fulfill her contractual obligations by arriving in poor health and not playing in important games. The arbitrator partially upheld Hammon’s claim upon being presented with each side’s argument. Hammon was seeking her full salary for the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 seasons. The ruling stated Hammon found alternative employment with another club, Spartak Moscow, during 2011-2012 so she was not entitled to that amount. Nadezhda owed her salary from the 2010-2011 it had not paid. They must pay Hammon’s 2011 salary in the months of March, April, and May in the amount of $50,000 for each month. Additionally, she received interest at 5% on the amount for every month. Nadezhda would have owed Hammon $400,000 for 2011-2012. However, playing for Spartak Moscow she is making less at $340,000.  The club is required to compensate her for the difference in the amount of $60,000.  Nadezhda must also pay $8,990 for legal fees and expenses.

Smith v. BC Karsiyaka Spor Kulübü Dernegi

American Andre Jermaine Smith filed a claim seeking outstanding salary, bonuses, and expenses from the Turkish club BC Karsiyaka Spor Kulübü Dernegi. Adhering to Article 16.2 of the BAT Rules, the ruling resulted in an award without reason. Smith will receive $26,500 net of taxes and interest at 5% per annum beginning May 16th 2011.  The club will pay him €1,500 and $2,450 to reimburse him for legal costs. Karsiyaka Spor Kulübü Dernegi will have to pay the BAT €2,600 for arbitration costs and Smith €600. The balance of the advance on costs remaining at €1,400 will be paid to Mr. Smith by the BAT.

Paunic v. BC Aris KAE 2003

Serbian player Ivan Paunic filed a claim for outstanding salaries against Greek club BC Aris KAE 2003. Following under Article 16.2, an award was issued without reason. Mr. Paunic will receive €29,800 net of taxes along with interest set at 5% per annum starting June 30th 2010. For his legal fees and expenses, Paunic will receive €3,800. BC Aris KAE 2003 must pay both the BAT €2,000 and Mr. Paunic €2,000 for arbitration costs. The balance of the advance of costs leftover at €1,488 will be awarded to Mr. Ivan Paunic.