A court in Switzerland has ordered former Chelsea footballer Adrian Mutu to pay the club £14.3m in damages plus interest.
Chelsea sacked the player in October 2004 after he tested positive for cocaine. They then sued Mutu for lost earnings from merchandising and transfer fees.
Some commentators believe Chelsea’s decision to terminate Mutu’s contract was made for the wrong reasons.
The club paid Italian club Parma £15.8m for his signature in August 2003. He began well, scoring four goals in three games, but his form began to trail off as he struggled to settle in London. Things got worse after the arrival of Jose Mourinho as manager in June 2004 and he made only two substitute appearances for the self-declared ‘Special One’.
Before Chelsea sacked Mutu, he claims he almost hit Mourinho after a training ground bust-up.
When the club paymasters decided to adopt a zero tolerance policy towards the player for failing the drug test then, it is unlikely Mourinho did much to change their mind.
Apparently Chelsea had suspicions the player was using Class A drugs before the FA performed a random drugs test on him in September 2004. Indeed, they carried out a random recreational drugs test on Mutu in July 2004 which returned negative.
But the July test was not sanctioned by the FA and it subsequently fined Chelsea £40,000 for failing to comply with its Doping Control Regulations.
Mutu’s legal fight with Chelsea has lasted more than five years. After his contract was terminated, he served a seven month playing ban imposed by FIFA, and then rebuilt his career at Juventus and Fiorentina.
His past life in London came back to haunt him, however, in June 2008 when FIFA ordered him to pay Chelsea £9.6m compensation for lost transfer fees.
Mutu described the fine as “unjust and inhumane” and appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS).
CAS only increased the fine to £14.3m, however, to take account of lost merchandising opportunities.
The Romanian then appealed to a federal court in Switzerland (since the CAS headquarters are located in Lausanne).
At first blush, the court suspended the fine, but it has now decided the 31-year-old must pay the full amount plus interest. In a statement it said:
“In a ruling on 10 June 2010, the Swiss Federal Court rejected the appeal by Adrian Mutu against the decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
“[The court] first rejected the arguments by which the footballer questioned the impartiality of two of the three arbitrators who rendered the decision. On those merits, the federal court recalled that, in the field of international arbitration, it does not retry the case, as a court of appeal would, but can check only certain aspects very limited to the basis of recorded facts in the imposed sentence.
“In this case, the federal court had only to consider whether the amount of damages/interest allocated to the London club violated the core values that all judicial systems should follow. They came to the conclusion that this was not the case, so that the Romanian footballer’s appeal was unfounded.”
Second ban and further appeal
Mutu is currently serving another drug ban after testing positive for the anti-obesity drug sibutramine in January. He is scheduled to return to action in October. In the meantime, he has a lot to ponder, including a potential appeal to the European Court of Justice…
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