Nick De Marco QC, a leading sports lawyer has said Lionel Messi risks facing FIFA ban if his contract conflict with Barcelona is not resolved.
Messi had submitted his transfer request but he is still under contract until the summer of 2021.
De Marco who has represented sport’s governing bodies, players, clubs and agents since 2002, says FIFA is likely to be asked to settle any dispute in the first instance.
“If it ended up anywhere, it would be most likely in the FIFA Dispute Resolution Chamber because Messi, being Argentinian, the FIFA rules would apply, and FIFA has its own set of laws and rules,” De Marco, of Blackstone Chambers, told The Transfer Show on Sky Sports News.
“So, it’s unlikely to be Spanish law or English law or Swiss law but it would be the FIFA rules that apply, and they have a commission that can determine these things.
“Ultimately, either party can then appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. That’s how these sorts of issues are normally dealt with.
“One possibility, and it’s certainly not one I’m advising anybody, is a player simply just walks out and says, ‘I’m entitled to walk out, so I’m walking out’.
“The risk with that strategy is, although FIFA will normally allow the registration to move with the player, if the club then brings a claim and succeeds, not only is the player liable to [pay] damages but also is likely to be banned under FIFA rules for a period of months and the new club signing him have a transfer embargo.
“It’s such a high-risk strategy that, unless you were sure that the player was in the right, it’s not a risk one would take.”
De Marco, who is not representing Messi or Barcelona, and has no visibility over their contracts, believes a “commercial solution” is likely to be found.
“You have to read the contract as a whole,” he explains.
“Even if it’s a date, and the date is the date, if that’s linked to other provisions that show what the parties really meant was the end of the season, then there’s still an argument it’s the end of the season.
“There are legal arguments on both sides but in my experience, in ninety-five per cent of these types of cases, you find a commercial solution.
“The last thing that Barcelona want is a player who’s not fully committed and drawing those wages. It’s not only bad for him, it’s bad for the whole dressing room.
“The last thing a player like Messi wants is just to sit there and receive money without playing. For a player of his stature, and genius, he wants to be succeeding and, so, it’s in the interests of both parties to work this out and come to a sensible compromise.”