The 2017 Arab Club Championship was held in Alexandria, Egypt in August of this year. With the final match between Esperance de Tunis, a Tunisian club, and Al-Faisaly Football Club from Jordan running into overtime, the excitement and suspense escalated quickly until a controversial call from one of the referees during overtime allowed Tunisia to take gold, leaving Jordan with silver.
The ensuing confrontation between several Al-Faisaly players and the referee who made the call resulted in the Union of Arab Football Associations (UAFA) issuing disciplinary sanctions of one-year suspensions against five Al-Faisaly players and one club official, as well as financial penalties against both the sanctioned players and the Club itself. Given that the players who were sanctioned are key members of the team – four also play on the Jordanian National Team – the suspensions were likely to have a massive impact on both Al-Faisaly and the Jordanian National Team.
Later that month, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) was requested to extend the UAFA sanctions on an Asian-wide level, and AFC’s Disciplinary and Ethics Committee agreed. Working in tandem with the Jordan Football Association (JFA) and Al-Faisaly, and with the unwavering support of the His Royal Highness Prince Ali bin Hussein, Chairman of JFA, Khalifeh & Partners submitted 16 appeals to AFC’s Appeals Committee in an effort to dismiss the sanctions.
AFC’s Appeals Committee convened on November 13th, and the decision was made to uphold the appeals that were submitted by K&P and to set aside the motion of the AFC Disciplinary and Ethics Committee to extend the sanctions. “This is a great achievement; the result has been awaited by practically everyone in Jordan”, says Managing Partner Ala’ Khalifeh, who led the K&P team that filed the appeals.
Khalifeh & Partners is quickly becoming a leader in the areas of sports and entertainment law, having worked with both the Jordan Olympic Committee and JFA, as well as numerous Jordanian athletes. Still, the odds were against Al-Faisaly – more often than not, AFC dismisses appeals and chooses instead to uphold disciplinary measures. Ala’ emphasized the efforts of his colleagues, saying, “I’m very proud of our team. The fact that our appeal was upheld speaks to the standard of work that our lawyers adhere to and produce.”
The success of the appeal also has positive implications for the future of Jordanian athletics. Jordan’s sports industry is continuing to develop and has recently garnered more visibility on a global scale, as evidenced by the ambitious plans of the Jordan Olympic Committee and Ahmad Abu Ghaush’s gold-medal taekwondo performance at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. But increased prominence and activity also increases the likelihood of encountering sanctions, suspensions, and other legal issues in the future, which requires niche legal knowledge of sports laws and regulations. The success of this endeavor indicates that Jordan is well-prepared to continue its progress and development in athletics both on and off the field.
Khalifeh & Partners is a full-service law firm that offers comprehensive expertise to our clients. Khalifeh & Partners would like to thank HRH Prince Ali bin Hussein, the Jordan Football Association, and Al-Faisaly Football Club for their confidence in Khalifeh & Partners and for their encouragement and support during the appeal process.