MCA Sports Law LLP
Sport Accelerator , Qatar Business District, P.O. Box 358010
Peers and clients say:
"Ettore is able to assess court cases successfully and has the necessary knowledge of the latest case law"
"He impresses with the high amount of due diligence in his work, and his prompt and comprehensive execution of tasks"
Ettore Mazzilli is an Italian lawyer specialised in the field of sports and entertainment law, registered with the Bar Association of Bari (Italy) since 1994. Ettore was also registered with the SRA of England and Wales. Having established his law office in Italy in 1994, Ettore, in July 2018, became the founding and managing partner of MCA Sports Law LLP in Qatar. Since March 2005, Ettore has served as legal director for the Qatar Football Association. Ettore is president of Rex Sport Association, member of AIAF and AIAS. He regularly teaches sports law and has written numerous publications.
What attracted you to a career in sports law?
Certainly my great passion for sports and law as well as the possibility to combine both in the same job.
What qualities do clients look for in an effective sports lawyer?
Aside from looking for a highly qualified lawyer, who’s experienced in sports law of course, clients always look for a lawyer who is perfectly aware of the peculiarities, dynamics and common practice in the sports environment, and is capable to deal with all of them.
What do you enjoy most about working in sport-related law?
That the dynamic of sports-related law is always evolving, as well as the necessity to adapt oneself to the unique specificity of sports together with the creativity often requested of a sports lawyer for solving a legal case, closing a deal, reaching a settlement agreement or win a dispute.
What is the most interesting case you’ve been a part of, and why?
In almost 30 years of professional activity in the field of sports law and with many cases in which I have been involved as legal counsel, it is not easy to pick the most interesting one. Nevertheless, I would choose a 2003 breach of employment contract case in which I represented a Turkish club against, at that time, a very famous Argentinean player before FIFA, as first instance body, and then in the relevant appeal at the CAS. The player was compelled by FIFA to pay the Turkish club financial compensation equal to 11 million USD and suspended for a period of four months. The decision was confirmed in full by the CAS. It was the highest compensation to which a football player had been compelled to pay and, after 20 years, remains one of the highest in all the history of employment-related disputes in football. The case was then settled amicably between the parties in a meeting held in Zurich under the auspices of FIFA.
To what extent is the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) an effective body in resolving disputes?
It is unquestionable that the CAS has been and still is an effective body in resolving disputes in sports to a large extent. Certainly in the last years the increased number of disputes before the CAS, either in an ordinary or an appeal arbitration proceeding, has inevitably had an impact on the duration of any proceedings, extending the average time of each case. This is, in my modest opinion, the most critical aspect which must be taken into account by the relevant stakeholders in arbitration as well as in sports: making a decision in a short period of time is crucial for the effectiveness of anybody competent in resolving disputes.
If you could implement one reform in international sports arbitration, what would it be?
I would definitively try to give not only more emphasis but also to make some pragmatic changes in the rules governing mediation. In my modest opinion, many disputes in football-related matters could be solved via mediation under the auspices of FIFA. Moreover, mediation, as it is currently governed and regulated by the CAS Code, is not convenient for parties and that’s the reason why very few cases are solved via mediation which, on the contrary, would be the perfect and simplest way to solve disputes in sports.
What inspired you to set up your own firm?
In 1994, after three challenging years of v practice as a junior lawyer in civil and criminal law in the South of Italy, without being paid one single euro, I woke up one morning and told myself: “if I have to work so hard without getting paid, maybe it’s better if I work for free but for myself”. The very next day, I started working towards setting up my own law firm in the field of sports law which, at that time, was a very uncommon field of practice.
You have enjoyed a very distinguished career so far. What would you like to achieve that you have not yet accomplished?
First of all, thank you very much for your kind preamble. I believe, however, that I still have a lot to learn and to develop in my career. Frankly speaking, I would like to conclude my career as CEO in an important football club of one of the top five football leagues.