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

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