Ivan Bykovskiy, Yury Zaytsev

CAS dismissed the appeal of FC Zenit concerning the fight of its players with the opponents from FC Spartak in a Cup game

Published initially on Football Legal (https://football-legal.com)

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) dismissed FC Zenit St. Petersburg’s (FC Zenit) appeal related to the facts of the Russian Cup game against FC Spartak Moscow on 27 November 2022.

FC Zenit appealed against the decision of the Russia Football Federation (FUR) Control and Disciplinary Body (FUR CDC), upheld by the Appeal Committee of FUR, which sanctioned three FC Zenit players for six games each for participation in a mass fight.

According to the club, the position reflected in the official match protocol did not correspond to the applied sanction, i.e. the referee qualified the actions of the three players as “aggressive behavior” but not a “mass fight” in the match protocol. The club referred to the IFAB Rules of the Game, which state in Rule 5 the following:

Decisions will be made to the best of the referee’s ability according to the Laws of the Game and the ‘spirit of the game’ and will be based on the opinion of the referee, who has the discretion to take appropriate action within the framework of the Laws of the Game.

“2. Decisions of the referee:

The decisions of the referee regarding facts connected with play, including whether or not a goal is

The situation when the sanction was applied to the players based on another provision of the FUR Disciplinary Code (mass fights are enshrined in Article 97 of FUR DC, and aggressive behavior falls under Article 94 of FUR DC), in the opinion of the club, contradicts several legal principles, amongst them venire contra factum proprium, nulla poena sine lege, and the playing field doctrine enshrined in the numerous jurisprudence of CAS.

The FUR Appeal Committee, in its decision, dismissed the claim of FC Zenit, stating that the FUR CDC did not commit any breach while implementing the requalification of the match protocol inputs as this falls within the special competence of FUR CDC. In the opinion of FUR Appeal Committee, the referee exhaustively reflected in the match protocol the facts related to the red cards shown to three players as “aggressive behavior”, following that the IFAB Rule 12 only contained reference to the “aggressive behavior” and not to a “mass fight”, following which this would fall within the specially designated articles of the national Disciplinary Code. Following that argumentation, the FUR Appeal Committee stated that, given the above, the FUR CDC was empowered to additionally qualify the players’ actions as a “mass fight” without intervening in the autonomy and finality of the referees’ field decisions.

As a final remark, it shall be stated that the CAS upheld the decision of the FUR Appeal Committee in the award’s operative part.


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