Case of the Day: Chelsea Football Club v. Mutu

Adrian Mutu
Adrian Mutu
The case of the day is Chelsea Football Club Ltd. v. Mutu (S.D. Fla. 2012). Adrian Mutu played soccer for AC Parma until 2003, when he was transferred to Chelsea. Chelsea paid AC Parma a £ 22.5 million transfer fee. Chelsea and Mutu made a five year contract with an annual salary of £ 2.35 million with a signing bonus and payment to Mutu’s agent. But in the second year of the contract, Mutu tested positive for cocaine, and Chelsea terminated his contract. Mutu appealed to the Board of Directors of the Premier League, which found that Mutu had breached his contract without just cause. Mutu appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which dismissed the appeal.

In 2006, Chelsea applied to FIFA for compensation. FIFA’s Dispute Resolution Chamber held that it lacked jurisdiction. Chelsea asked the CAS to annul FIFA’s decision, but the CAS agreed with Chelsea and remanded the case to FIFA, which ultimately awarded Chelsea more than £ 17 million, the unamortized portion of the transfer fee Chelsea had paid to AC Parma. Mutu appealed to the CAS but lost. He then asked the Swiss courts to vacate the award, but they rejected his motion. Chelsea then asked the court in Miami to recognize and enforce the award.

Mutu argued that the award was penal and contrary to public policy, but the court easily rejected that argument on the grounds that even if the award was wrong, it was no so unjust that “enforcement would violate … basic notions of morality and justice.” Easy case.

Photo credit: Roberto Vicario

About Ted Folkman

Ted Folkman is a shareholder with Murphy & King, a Boston law firm, where he has a complex business litigation practice. He is the author of International Judicial Assistance (MCLE 2012), a nuts-and-bolts guide to international judicial assistance issues, and of the chapter on service of process in the ABA's forthcoming treatise on International Aspects of US Litigation, and he is the publisher of Letters Blogatory, the Web's first blog devoted to international judicial assistance, which the ABA recognized as one of the best 100 legal blogs in 2012, 2014, and 2015.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *