The legal action over player contracts pitting Belgian third-tier club Seraing against world football’s governing body FIFA was heard on Thursday in Brussels and the court could deliver a verdict in a month.
Seraing are challenging FIFA’s ban on third party ownership (TPO) of players. The club also took aim at Financial Fair Play Rules and the authority of the Court of Arbitration in Sport.
Legal teams for FIFA and Seraing, who between them brought 18 lawyers, presented arguments for two hours on Thursday before a civil court in Brussels. The court said it would consider the case again next Thursday and could render a decision in four weeks.
Football authorities worry that involvement of third party owners with clubs creates conflicts of interest and favours clubs who can afford to form continuing relationships with agents or player owners.
TPO’s supporters claim it helps poorer clubs sign and develop young players and spreads the burden of transfer fees because they only buy part of the player’s registration.
Seraing brought their case when FIFA banned TPO four months after the club signed an agreement in January 2015 with investment fund Doyen Sports based on the potential returns from such contracts.
Seraing refused to accept FIFA’s ban and has already been fined 150,000 euros ($175,900, £131,720). Their legal action is supported by the Spanish and Portuguese leagues, who are also taking a case to the European Commission.
FIFA is backed by European governing body UEFA and global players union Fifpro.
Former UEFA president Michel Platini, now banned from football following a graft probe, called TPO “a type of slavery”.