One of the best national goalkeepers, Ivan Fedotov, returned from the ranks of the Russian armed forces in early July. For him, a real struggle broke out between the KHL leader CSKA and the NHL team Philadelphia. Both clubs claimed Iván and as an argument they show a contract signed with him. Consequently, the goalkeeper chose to stay at home, but the Fedotov case did not end there.
The International Ice Hockey Federation sided with the NHL club, removed Ivan and imposed sanctions on the Russian team. The army team has already filed an appeal and now they face a difficult trial. In an exclusive interview with Soviet Sport, sports lawyer Sergei Alekseev assessed the chances for the Blue and Reds to challenge the federation’s decision and explained why Philadelphia’s arguments are unfounded.
– Is the decision to dismiss Fedotov until the end of 2023 fair or is it solely CSKA’s fault?
– I think that the decision of the International Ice Hockey Federation is controversial, it is not yet final and can be appealed before the disciplinary bodies of the international federation, and also before the international court of arbitration for sport. The situation is as follows: Fedotov signed a one-year contract with Philadelphia last May for the 2022/2023 season.
But, as everyone remembers, in July 2022, the state authorities, namely the Ministry of Defense of Russia, made a decision to call up Fedotov for military service for one year. That is, for reasons beyond the control of the parties, the contract could not be executed. No money was paid, the hockey player himself did not begin to fulfill his obligations, he did not play, the contract itself was not fulfilled. And in the summer of this year the terms of the contract with Philadelphia expired. Fedotov returned from the army and signed a contract with CSKA. “Philadelphia” believes that the agreements with the hockey player remain in force for the next season.
They have such a position that they allegedly froze everything, and in the contract itself there are no clauses on automatic extension in case of military service. In this sense, the issue is controversial and can be considered further both by the courts of the international federation and by the Court of Lausanne.
– Do you agree with the statement that CSKA persuaded the player to violate the contract with Philadelphia?
– The fact is that the international transfer rules of the International Ice Hockey Federation already presume the club’s fault if it concludes a contract with a player who already has a valid professional contract. That is, there is such a standard of proof, in fact, the presumption of guilt. But this does not mean at all that it was in reality.
The CSKA position must be built in such a way that there are no violations by the army club and Fedotov. Here both CSKA and Fedotov are in the same boat. In general, it is necessary to refute the perversities and positions of the opposite side that do not correspond to the agreement with Philadelphia. It is necessary to create some presumption of integrity in this matter.
– What are the ways to resolve this situation for CSKA?
– First of all, when the KHL registers a contract, the league usually interacts with the NHL in case of inconsistencies. It is necessary to find out in the KHL how these problems were. Since the issue is debatable, the following actions, corresponding to the current regulatory framework of international hockey, are as follows: the situation can be appealed to the IIHF disciplinary committee, perhaps to the appeal committee, you have to look, and, thirdly, First, to the international court in Lausanne – the highest court that can make a final decision.
Negotiated friendly options to resolve this conflict are also possible, but this is unlikely, after all, two weeks were given to resolve these issues out of court, but this possibility remains. It is logical to solve this situation by building a certain legal position, perhaps even offensive, and not stop defending it.
– CSKA has already filed an appeal against the decision of the International Federation. What do you think is the probability that she is satisfied?
– Again, there was a controversial situation. The representatives of Philadelphia must prove that Fedotov agreed to the additional conditions, which provided for the very “freezing” of the contract for its renewal. If this was done unilaterally, then the disqualification decision was incorrect. Then the disciplinary committee will decide in favor of Fedotov and CSKA.
– FHR said they are ready to support CSKA to challenge the decision. Is this support really necessary? What FHR methods can really help?
– The Russian Ice Hockey Federation has a great authority in international hockey, certain connections and a powerful legal department. With these levers, the federation will be able to support both the club and legal and diplomatic assistance to Fedotov internationally. The more structures and instances are on the side of the army, the greater the probability of a positive result for the consideration of this dispute in jurisdictional and judicial instances.