Applicability of human rights standards in Turkish football arbitration: the contribution of the European Court of Human Rights

Gemalmaz H. B.

INTERNATIONAL SPORTS LAW JOURNAL, cilt.19, ss.38-58, 2019 (ESCI İndekslerine Giren Dergi) identifier identifier

  • Cilt numarası: 19
  • Basım Tarihi: 2019
  • Doi Numarası: 10.1007/s40318-019-00151-w
  • Sayfa Sayıları: ss.38-58


The sole governing body in the field of football, the Turkish Football Federation (TFF), performs official tasks assigned to it by the legislation and has been furnished with the opportunity to benefit from public privileges. The Arbitration Board of TFF is the compulsory and ultimate legal forum for disciplinary and administrative issues, and no appeal is allowed to court in accordance with Article 59 (3) of the Turkish Constitution and the relevant provisions of the Law No. 5894. However, constitutional law and human rights concerns are almost totally neglected in the field of Turkish football. TFF has rejected to apply human rights standards, and the Turkish Constitutional Court has approved TFF's approach. That is why victims of alleged human rights violations have applied to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) for the actions and decisions of TFF. ECtHR has very recently started to examine the disputes regarding football matters brought against Turkey and has invited the Turkish Government to provide its responses in eight applications pending before it. Possible outcomes of these pending cases are not yet known. Thus, this article seeks to analyze whether and under which circumstances TFF's activities and decisions can be attributed to the Turkish State under the ECHR, and the applicability of fair trial standards to compulsory arbitration. The article argues that taking into account of TFF's legal nature as a quasi-public authority and the existence of the compulsory arbitration as a sole legal remedy in football-related disputes, governmental human rights responsibility, is triggered under European Convention on Human Rights.