Sports law in Switzerland

Bär & Karrer Ltd.

Bär & Karrer Ltd. acts for some of the largest international sports organisations, major national sports associations as well as individuals from the world of sports on a variety of contentious and non-contentious matters. The team of ‘first-class lawyers’ provides regulatory and governance advice, assists with player transfers and acts in a variety of arbitration and litigation proceedings relating to disciplinary sanctions, financial fair play regulations, doping, employment issues and more. Michele Bernasconi is a highly experienced litigator and considered ‘the leading arbitrator’ before the Court of Arbitration for Sports. ‘Brilliant litigatorJan Kleiner acts on contentious and non-contentious matters in national and international sports law.

Practice head(s):

Michele Bernasconi; Jan Kleiner

Testimonials

‘The team is top in their class as far as sports law goes. It is composed of the best professionals in the sector. Although their experience and reputation speak for themselves, they continuously confirm their qualities by winning cases and providing the best advice to their clients for each case in an efficient and professional manner. They are able to work as a team in order to best take advantage of the individual skillsets and provide quality advice to the clients.’

‘The individuals at this firm are not only excellent professionals, but they are also great persons who are able to remain close to their clients by being available to answer any questions and provide the best possible advice at practically any time. Their hard work, passion and dedication to their profession is simply demonstrated by the positive outcome of the vast majority of their cases. They are able to make the tough cases seem easy.’

‘Deep expertise of the sports law market combined with a great standing and contacts to all bodies in football.’

‘Jan kleiner is highly professional and extremely fast in responses. His international network and deep knowledge are unparalleled. Each recommendation of his has been high level.’

‘A large and specialist sports unit residing in one of Switzerland’s top firms. Lead by two of the biggest names in sports law in the world, Michele Bernasconi and Jan Kleiner. Definitely the leader domestically and in the top 3 in the world.’

‘Michele Bernasconi is the leading CAS arbitrator, but he is happy to share that knowledge, not just with his clients, but at numerous seminars and events around the world, where he appears as a lecturer. Jan Kleiner rejoining the firm has provided it with the advocate its clients need.’

‘The Bär & Karrer team is legally very strong and with a lot of experience in the field. There is no other practice with the strength and balance of Bär & Karrer when it comes to sports law.’

‘Michele Bernasconi is probably the most relevant and influential arbitrator at the CAS in the past 10 years. He has been involved in the most important sport related cases and some of his decisions and awards are considered leading cases. On top of that he has built a network of contacts and connections that allows him to provide excellent advice and support to any client.’

‘Jan Kleiner is a brilliant litigator. He knows how to approach the arbitrators and present the case in the best possible way to protect his client’s interest. He is very reasonable and easy to work with.’

‘First class lawyers with huge experience in sports law.’

‘Jan Kleiner is an extremely good lawyer, very persuasive and calm under pressure. His presenting skills before a tribunal are first rate.’

‘The law firm is focused in sports law and is currently one of the most important in the world. Speediness and competence together with high profile skills are assets of the law firm.’

‘Together with Michele Bernasconi a special mention has to be made to Jan Kleiner, who is involved in sports matters at a very high level.’

‘The team has a very solid knowledge of Swiss law and CAS proceedings which is unique in the industry! Additionally, the members are excellent in sports law.’

‘The individuals working with us are fully committed, client oriented and available 24/7 based on specific needs even on short term notice. They are very respectful of the client and importance of the work performed by the client as well as of its reputation. Finally, they all speak several languages which is very helpful when working on specific cases.’

Key clients

UEFA

FIFA

CONMEBOL

OCA

Swiss Tennis

Qatar Athletics Federation

Swiss Football Association (SFV)

Portuguese Football Association (FPF)

Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC)

European Athletics Association (EAA)

Work highlights

  • Representing UEFA for several years in all proceedings before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and in international commercial arbitration matters.
  • Advising Conmebol on all types of regulatory matters and successfully represented it in a very large number of international arbitration proceedings before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
  • Acting as Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer of the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) and providing a wide range of governance-related advice.

Baker McKenzie

Baker McKenzie ‘combines very efficiently its specialisations in sports law and international arbitration’ and represents sports federations, organisations, host cities of major sporting events as well as individuals, especially from sports including football, ice hockey, motorsports, basketball and tennis, in various matters. The team advises on anti-doping regulations and ethics compliance issues, assists with disciplinary issues and advises on contracts, including the negotiation, renegotiation and termination of sponsorship deals for both individuals and corporate clients. Practice head Olivier Ducrey is an experienced litigator and arbitrator acting before various sports tribunals and focuses on commercial and contractual matters, including licensing agreements, media rights and sale-purchase agreements.

Practice head(s):

Olivier Ducrey

Testimonials

‘Baker McKenzie combines very efficiently its specialisations in sports law and international arbitration.’

‘Olivier Ducrey has an impressive knowledge and know-how in sports law. He is very professional and precise. In addition, he is also a pleasant person.’

‘We highly consider their work ethic, knowledge and efficiency. Their capacity of interaction, action and reaction always orientated solutions based on a great law competence in sport is great. Their awareness of legacy for the future and the importance to transfer experience and integration is precious.’

‘Olivier Ducrey’s approach, expertise and results are very precious for us. His work ethic and quality of work is important for us.’

‘Backer McKenzie’s team is professional, always available and fast on replies, they have very nice skills on writing and explaining complex concepts, competent and calm even when they encounter difficult situations and they are reliable persons.’

Key clients

Ralph Boschung

Nico Hischier

Jeremy Guillemenot

International Tennis Federation ITF Independent Tribunal

International Wushu Federation

Basketball Champions League/FIBA

UIAA

Sarah Hoefflin

World Taekwondo

Lake Placid 2023

SportiWorld Sàrl/SportiGenève

Work highlights

  • Advised professional driver Ralph Boschung on sponsorship and management contracts.
  • Advised Carabao on the impact of Covid-19 on sponsorship deals.
  • Appointed as a panel firm of the ITF, the world governing body of tennis, Independent Federation and dealing with several cases.

Kellerhals Carrard

Kellerhals Carrard acts for numerous international and national sports federations, clubs, teams and individuals on a variety of regulatory, transactional, contractual as well as contentious matters and has a particular specialism in the field of anti-doping litigation. The team is experienced in matters concerning football, athletics and motorsports and has an enviable track record in arbitration proceedings before the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Ross Wenzel and Jean-Pierre Morand are specialised in sports commercial matters. David Casserly and Marco Balmelli are key names for litigation concerning football-related matters, among other issues. François Carrard is an experienced arbitrator and advises sports organisations on organisational and structural matters. Massimiliano Maestretti focuses on Formula One teams. Nicolas Zbinden is also noted.

Practice head(s):

François Carrard; Jean-Pierre Morand; Ross Wenzel; Marco Balmelli; David Casserly; Massimiliano Maestretti

Other key lawyers:

Nicolas Zbinden

Testimonials

‘Ross Wenzel is one of the very best operators in the field of sports disputes. He has particular expertise in anti-doping where his knowledge and experience is second to none in my experience. He does his own advocacy and is equally adept before disciplinary bodies and the Court of Arbitration for Sport. He is always available for clients and incredibly good at turning around work in short periods of time. He really is the go to guy for international federations and anti-doping organisations.’

‘All their lawyers are very good and they work perfectly together.’

‘The sports law practice group at Kellerhals Carrard stands out because of its high-level expertise. There are several lawyers (Jean-Pierre Morand, Ross Wenzel and David Casserly to name three) who have more experience representing international federations than anyone else in the world.’

‘They proved to be the best in the speciality (motorsport) for which we sought their service.’

Key clients

FIBA / Basketball Champions League SA

Paris Saint-Germain Football SASP (France)

FC Nantes

Santos FC

Ukrainian Association of Football

World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)

World Athletics

International Weightlifting Federation

Ducati Motor Holding SpA

AF Corse Srl

Audi Sport GmbH (W Racing Team SA, Belgium and Leopard Racing Team Audi Comtoyou Racing JNVS Sprl, Belgium)

Manchester City Football Club

Euroleague Basketball

Grasshopper Club Zurich

International Swimming Federation (FINA)

FC Porto (Portugal)

Euroleague (Basketball)

Doyen Sports Investments

World Rugby

Football Association of Ireland

Phnom Penh Crown Football Club

SC Internacional

International Powerlifting Federation

European Bridge League

World Bridge Federation

Adrien Silva

Work highlights

  • Acted for WADA in its dispute against the Russian Anti-Doping Agency before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in connection with the consequences of the manipulation of anti-doping data within the Moscow laboratory.
  • Acted for Manchester City Football Club in the context of the procedures of the UEFA Club Financial Control Bodies and have submitted an appeal to CAS against the referral of the case by the UEFA CFCB Investigatory Chamber to the UEFA CFCB Adjudicatory Chamber and an appeal to CAS against the decision of the UEFA CFCB Adjudicatory Chamber.
  • Successfully represented FC Nantes in proceedings before the FIFA Players’ Status Committee relating to the payment of the transfer fee from Cardiff City FC for the transfer of the football player Emiliano Sala, and now acting for FC Nantes in a subsequent appeal before CAS filed by Cardiff City FC.

CMS

The sports law practice at CMS acts for clubs, individuals and sports apparel manufacturers, among others, particularly from the football and hockey sectors. The team frequently acts in litigation as well as arbitration proceedings on matters concerning compensation, indemnity, employment as well as transfer claims and various contractual claims. Olivier Carrard regularly acts as arbitrator, co-arbitrator or chairman in proceedings before the Court of Arbitration for Sports. Pierre Ducret and Philipp Dickenmann are experienced in dispute resolution and frequently act for corporate and individual clients in litigation and international arbitration matters.

Practice head(s):

Olivier Carrard; Philipp Dickenmann

Other key lawyers:

Pierre Ducret

Key clients

Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS)

Ville PELTONEN

Work highlights

  • Acted for the former head coach of Lausanne Hockey Club (LHC), Ville Peltonen, whose employment contract was unilaterally terminated by LHC, in a dispute between the parties.

Lenz & Staehelin

Lenz & Staehelin acts for international sports organisations and federations as well as individual athletes and international corporations on matters in sports law, such as contractual disputes, disciplinary matters, regulations and general governance as well as sponsorship agreements. The team has experience in matters at the intersection of sports and intellectual property law and acts for broadcasting companies on matters relating to anti-trust law and pay TV. Xavier Favre-Bulle, who is an experienced litigator and arbitrator in sports matters, heads the team together with Lucien Masmejan and Stephan Erni, who advises sports clients on sponsorship deals.

Practice head(s):

Xavier Favre-Bulle; Stephan Erni; Lucien Masmejan

Testimonials

‘Xavier Favre-Bulle is highly knowledgeable, experienced, engaged and supportive. He surrounded himself with an A-team of lawyers.’

‘Comprehensive knowledge of sports business, including governance-related matters and sports law issues,. Available, supportive, reactive, and they provide very clear and concise advice in all areas of sports law.’

‘Xavier Favre-Bulle is a leading arbitrator having brought to sport arbitration his perfect command of commercial arbitration.

‘The high personal qualities and reliability of Xavier Favre-Bulle, whom I would recommend as counsel or arbitrator for a high-profile case.’

Key clients

Swisscom, CT Cinetrade, Teleclub

Water Sports Tribunal

World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)

Work highlights

  • Successfully represented the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) as a defendant in three setting-aside proceedings before the Swiss Federal Supreme Court concerning decisions taken by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) during the CAS arbitration proceedings opposing WADA in a case concerning Chinese Olympic swimmer, Sun Yang, and the Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA) in relation to a decision of a doping panel of FINA.

Niederer Kraft Frey AG

Niederer Kraft Frey AG acts for sports federations, enterprises as well as individuals in a variety of contentious and non-contentious matters, frequently in the areas of football and hockey. The team is experienced in arbitration proceedings concerning anti-doping violations, commercial disputes and eligibility matters as well as commercial matters, such as the exploitation of commercial rights, and compliance matters, including data protection compliance. Practice head András Gurovits is a member of the board of the football team Grasshopper Club Zurich and is responsible for a majority of the Club's operational and strategic decisions. Daniel Eisele  and Tamir Livschitz  are also recommended.

Practice head(s):

András Gurovits

Other key lawyers:

Daniel Eisele; Tamir Livschitz

Testimonials

‘Andras Gurovits has an excellent knowledge of sports law and having the wider Niederer offering (e.g. corporate, tax etc.) alongside the sports expertise is a differentiator.’

‘I have worked extensively with the members of NKF’s sports law practice for several years in connection with commercial and corporate sports law matters. I was always impressed with NKF’s sports law team and find them to be outstandingly skilful, efficient, precise and responsive. The team has extensive experience and is well versed in the field of sports law. They always provide top notch and pragmatic advice. In my view, NKF’s sports law team is among the very best in Europe.’

‘Daniel Eisele is one of the top experts in sports law in Europe. He has been involved in the negotiation of some of the largest sports contracts ever concluded, in particular in the area of television and marketing. He has also been involved in the preparation of sports legislations in four different countries on three continents (Switzerland, Brazil, Russia and South Africa). He has also great expertise in sports law related disputes, in particular concerning sports commercial matters. It is always a pleasure to work with him, he is persistent and attentive.’

Key clients

Berlinger Group

Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS)

Ferencváros Budapest Football Club

Grasshopper Football Foundation

Grasshopper Football Ltd

International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF)

Swiss Ice Hockey Federation

 

Work highlights

  • Advised Grasshopper Football on the acquisition by Hong Kong-based Champion Union HK Holdings of 90% of the stake in Grasshopper Football, the entity operating Grasshopper Club Zurich, from former majority shareholders Dr. Peter Stüber and Stephan Anliker.
  • Advised the International Ice Hockey Federation IIHF on the protection of intellectual property, exploitation of media rights as well as compliance issues.
  • Represented Ferencváros in arbitration proceedings initiated by another professional football club.

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan (Schweiz) GmbH

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan (Schweiz) GmbH is devoted solely to litigation, arbitration and white-collar matters. As such the sports law practice acts for international sports governing bodies, sports organisations, teams and individuals in a variety of disputes arising in a sports law context, such as bribery, corruption and other criminal proceedings, copyright issues, damages and regulatory as well as contractual matters. Practice head Thomas Werlen is experienced in representing clients from the motorsports, football, basketball, boxing and field hockey sectors, among others, and is on the supervisory board of the football team Hertha BSC Berlin.

Practice head(s):

Thomas Werlen

Testimonials

‘Thomas Werlen’s legal expertise, strategic mind, commitment, professionality and responsiveness is second to none. In addition, we were very impressed by his sound understanding of FIFA’

‘I have always found the collaboration with QE to be very professional, collegial, efficient and pleasant. The QE team has always impressed me and my team with their delivery of top-notch work (both from a legal and strategic standpoint), their high commitment and responsiveness and their deep knowledge of sports matters and the peculiars of this sector. QE lawyers are best-of-class legal advisors who think “outside the box” and consistently come up with creative and goal-oriented solutions to obtain the best-possible results for their clients, even in “difficult” times.’

‘Thomas Werlen is a highly skilled and experienced practitioner who works very efficiently and pragmatically, and always goes the extra mile to achieve the best-possible result for his clients. He consistently delivers high quality work and he is second to none in terms of responsiveness and strategic view. Also, drawing from his experience as former GC of Novartis, he speaks the client’s language and has a deep understand of the underlying business questions.’

Key clients

Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA)

Confederación Sudamericana de Fútbol (CONMEBOL)

Fédération Internationale de Hockey (FIH)

FC Basel Holding AG

Highlight Communications AG

Team Football Marketing AG

Asia League Limited / East Asia Super League

Hertha BSC

Campos Racing S.L.

Comosa AG / World Boxing Super Series

Work highlights

  • Advised Hong Kong-based Asia League on the ‘East Asia Super League’ project, the first integrated international basketball ‘Champions League’ across Asia.
  • Advised Monaco Increase Management Sàrl on bidding for a team entry in the Formula 1 championship from 2022.

Schellenberg Wittmer Ltd

Schellenberg Wittmer Ltd’s sports law practice is experienced in representing individuals, sports organisations and clubs as well as corporate clients in arbitration proceedings before the Court of Arbitration for Sport as well as in state courts. Its caseload includes issues concerning media rights and sponsorship agreements, unfair competition and dismissal claims, violations of the WADA code and disputed bids for hosting major sports events. Practice heads Philippe Bärtsch and Christopher Boog are experienced arbitrators for sports matters, as is partner Anna Kozmenko.

Practice head(s):

Philippe Bärtsch; Christopher Boog

Other key lawyers:

Anna Kozmenko

Testimonials

‘Very strong team, Very detailed both factually and legally.’

‘Philippe Bärtsch is an outstanding and very powerful team leader.’

‘Perfect expertise, outstanding experience.’

‘Responsiveness, ability to work under pressure.’

Key clients

Vice-President of the Qatar Football Association

Sun Yang

39 Olympic Russian athletes

Four members of the Russian Olympic Ski Team

Mikhalina Lysova

International Boxing Federation (AIBA)

RUSADA (Russian Anti-Doping Agency)

Kujtesa Net

Work highlights

  • Represented the Russian Anti-Doping Agency against the World Anti-Doping Agency before the Court of Arbitration for Sports.
  • Representing track-and-field athletes in CAS proceedings relating to alleged anti-doping rules violations.
  • Advised the buyers, Zdenek Bakala, Gregory Finger and Petr Svoboda, on their acquisition of National League team, Lausanne Hockey Club.

MLL Meyerlustenberger Lachenal Froriep Ltd

MLL Meyerlustenberger Lachenal Froriep Ltd’s sports practice represents clients, such as sports federations, individuals and player’s unions, in litigation and arbitration before the Court of Arbitration for Sports and advises on contractual matters, such as employment agreements, player transfers and image agreements. The team is particularly experienced in matters relating to football, horse racing, and ice hockey and represents clients in disciplinary matters, especially anti-doping matters. Lucien Valloni is experienced in domestic and international commercial and arbitration cases.

Practice head(s):

Lucien Valloni

Testimonials

‘They are very innovative, convincing and have a very strategic approach from the beginning of a mandate. This helps understand the case better and to see the strengths and weaknesses.’

‘Lucien Valloni is an outstanding personality. He seems to always be two steps ahead of the other side. He is a very good tactical expert in litigation proceedings. He helps a lot to develop the case with new ideas and to bring the case to another level. He is also a very good sports law expert with a vast knowledge of all kind of sports and the political environment.’

‘Froriep’s team demonstrated deep understanding of the world of football as well as an excellent knowledge of the Swiss legal system. This synergy made our common work on the case successful.’

‘Lucien Valloni perfectly built client’s position in the case, which was later followed by the courts. Thanks to his wide spectrum of knowledge in different legal areas, he may always offer the best legal resort tailored to the client’s demands. Brilliant legal mind!’

‘The service is very competent, fast and always two steps in front of others.’

‘Lucien Valloni is an outstanding lawyer. Very fast, intelligent and quick. Always to the point and focussing on the essentials with a very vast network that can be beneficial.’

Key clients

Swiss Association of Football Players (SAFP)

Fédération Internationale des Associations de Footballeurs Professionnels (FIFPro)

World Associations of Icehockey Players Unions (WAIPU)

Curacao Sport & Olympic Federation (CSOF)

Trabzonspor Sportif Yatirim ve Futbol Işletmeciliği Tic. A.Ş.

Trabzonspor Futbol Işletmeciliği Tic. A.Ş.

Trabzonspor Kulübü Derneği

Yaroslav Rakiskiy

P.R.O. International AG

Matthew Spiranovic

Ali Riza

World Association of Icehoceky Players Unions (WAIPU)

Kouassi Xavier

Song Alexandre

Doumbia Seydou

Work highlights

  • Represented SAFP, FIFPro and WAIPU Unions and its more than 72,000 members (professional players) in the legislative consultation process of the Swiss government concerning the amendment of the Swiss International Private Law Act requesting changes in favour of more protection for players.
  • Acting for Curacao Sport & Olympic Federation in a dispute with the International Olympic Committee relating to representing Curacao and its flag at the Olympic Games.
  • Represented Trabzonspor in various proceedings related to the championship title for the Super League season 2010/2011 following match fixing charges against a rival team.

TIMES Attorneys

TIMES Attorneys acts for sports associations, federations, clubs and teams on compliance, sponsoring, marketing and contractual matters and handles litigation and arbitration concerning disciplinary matters such as doping violations. Stephan Netzle is the name to note.

VISCHER

VISCHER’s sports law practice includes several active and formerly active professional athletes and advises on sports marketing and merchandising, TV and online broadcasting rights, esports, sporting goods production and trading, sponsorship and transfer agreements. The team, led by Moritz Jäggy and Robert Bernet, acts for clubs, sports associations and individuals as well as sports agencies and corporations in litigation as well as advisory and tax matters.

Practice head(s):

Moritz Jäggy; Robert Bernet

Testimonials

‘As well as experts in sport, they are clearly very knowledgeable on Swiss Law issues and are the go to firm when we require advice on Swiss law.’

‘Moritz Jäggy is extremely responsive, clear and practical in the advice he provides.’

‘The team combines all legal expertise that is relevant for the sports sector, in particular corporate law, but also intellectual property and dispute resolution.’

‘Moritz Jäggy, head of the sports law team, is not only an excellent lawyer, but also a professional beach soccer player and captain of the Swiss national team. He is a highly skilled legal professional and fun to work with. What makes him stand out is that he is also president of the Disciplinary Commission of the Swiss Football Federation, so he has in-depth knowledge of the football business.’

‘On-point legal advice with specific knowledge of the special needs in sports.’

‘Moritz Jäggy – due to his own career as competitive beach soccer player he has an in-depth understanding of the market and its stakeholders.’

Key clients

PUMA Retail AG

SWISSLOS Interkantonale Landeslotterie

Swiss Football Association

Tennis Club Old Boys Basel

Home of eSports AG

Swiss Beach Soccer GmbH

Football Association of North-western Switzerland

Football Association of the region von Aargau

Swiss Gymnastics Association

Swiss Ice Skating

Athletes Network & Athletes Academy AG

Dosenbach-Ochsner AG Schuhe und Sport

Snipes (Schweiz) AG

Sportshop Karrer AG

Starc Marketing & Sports GmbH

Work highlights

  • Advised the Athletes Network and the Athletes Academy AG in the setup of a network for professional sportspersons with the aim to facilitate the transition from a professional sportsperson to a businessperson. Acted as legal advisor to the professional sportspersons within the Athletes Network.
  • Advised Home of eSports AG in all legal matters regarding the setting up of their eSports business, the acquisition of eSports teams, players contracts, and the organisation of eSports events in Switzerland.
  • Advised the Football Association of the region North-western Switzerland & the Football Association of the region Aargau in COVID-19 related sports cases, such as players contracts, sponsoring agreements and payment of membership fees to clubs.