BBC BLOGS - Matt Slater
« Previous | Main | Next »

Mutu's misery is football's folly

Post categories:

Matt Slater | 19:36 UK time, Friday, 7 August 2009

Have you ever read anything that has actually made your head hurt? Not stuff that blurs your eyes a bit or causes your mind to wander, I mean reading material that inflicts real pain a few inches behind your nose.

I have, just now, and it has taken two paracetamol and a Coke to shift, which is ironic as the culprit was the text of the Court of Arbitration for Sport's (CAS) judgment in the Chelsea v Adrian Mutu case.

I suppose I got off lightly, after last month's decision Mutu owes his former club nearly £15m in compensation and legal costs, a sum that will start growing by 5% every year from 12 September.

The Romanian, who now plays for Fiorentina, has described this as "profoundly unjust", Chelsea have called it "a very significant decision for football" and one sports lawyer I consulted dismissed it as "monkey's logic".

I'm not sure what to think but I am certain this story deserves retelling. So let's take it back to the start to see if we can find out how three lawyers - from France, German and Italy - made a ruling on English contract law in a Swiss court that says an Italian-based Romanian must pay a Russian-owned English club 17,173,990 euros.

Six summers ago, Mutu's prospects looked very different. He had progressed from a small provincial team to Italy's Serie A, via a brief but eye-catching spell at Dinamo Bucharest.

Adrian Mutu

His performances for Parma, the third of his Italian teams, led some to dub him "the new Zola" (Gianfranco, not Emile). He had also become Romania's main man - filling the hole left by Gheorghe Hagi - and he was married to a beautiful TV presenter. It was hardly surprising his nickname was "Brilliant".

It also explains why the British tabloids would christen him "Romania's David Beckham" as soon as Chelsea decided to pay Parma £15.8m (which was 29.4m euros at the time) for his services.

In the first six games of the 2003/04 season - three for Chelsea, three for Romania - he scored eight times. It seemed Mutu really was the new Zola and he was well worth the £2.35m a year (plus £330,000 signing-on fee and goal bonuses) he was being paid.

And then... erm... it turned out he wasn't. OK, there were a few more goals - a winner against Lazio sticks out - but not many.

It seemed Mutu was reserving his scoring for the nightclubs of London, Bucharest and all points in between. This put an end to his "Posh n' Becks" marriage and saw him briefly involved with a Romanian porn star. On top of this there was a scrape with the law at home and an unseemly club v country row with new Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho.

So when it emerged he had tested positive for cocaine after a random check in September 2004 few were hugely surprised. But from this moment on it is pretty much surprises all the way.

First, we learned the test was not so random. Concerned about their asset's form, Chelsea administered their own unsanctioned drug test in July. This turned out to be negative (and the FA would later fine Chelsea for performing this test) but the club notified the anti-doping authorities and it was their test which would catch Mutu two months later.

What happened next depends on your view of Chelsea's motives/human nature.

Mutu was either sacked because the club wanted him out and viewed his positive test as an opportunity to extract more money in compensation from the courts than they could ever gain from the transfer market; or it was a principled stance against behaviour detrimental to football and a reasonable response to an employee's wilful sabotage of their best-laid plans.

A week after his sacking Mutu was handed a seven-month ban by the FA. It could have been worse but the governing body was impressed by his speedy admission of guilt and decision to ask Sporting Chance Clinic for help.

Mutu served his ban and was picked up by Juventus (although nothing in this tale is straightforward so he was actually signed by Livorno and sold to Juve, who wanted him all along but had already bought their annual allocation of non-EU players from abroad). His form was OK but in 2006 he was on the move again, this time in a £5.5m transfer to Fiorentina, where he has scored 46 goals in 76 league games, twice helping La Viola to Champions League football.

But while he and Fiorentina have flourished his legal team has floundered.

Mutu first appealed against his sacking to the Premier League but in April 2005 it ruled he had breached his contract. He then lodged an appeal with CAS to have this overturned but was knocked back.

In May 2006 Chelsea went to Fifa to ask for compensation. World football's governing body initially decided it didn't have the jurisdiction to rule on this. Chelsea went back to CAS and got it to agree that Fifa did. Still with me?

In August 2007 the Premier League side put in a compensation request for "at least equivalent to the replacement cost of £22,661,641", which was 33.6m euros at the time.

This was based on the costs of acquiring and replacing him (Shaun Wright-Phillips was held up, not literally, as his replacement), as well as damages for hurting Chelsea's brand and the reimbursement of legal costs.

In May 2008, after eight months of deliberation, Fifa partially accepted Chelsea's claim and came up with a figure of 17,173,990 euros, or £13.5m. I could try to explain how they reached this sum but as it is based on terms like amortisation, foreseeability and remoteness, I'll spare you. And myself.

But in simple terms it is his transfer fee spread over the five years of his contract minus the 15 months he actually played. Added to this were the unpaid part of his signing-on fee and a similar portion of the fee paid to his agent.

The fact an under-performing Mutu was no longer "worth" this amount on the open market was deemed not relevant, as was the fact he could not be held responsible for the figure Chelsea chose to pay for him. Under English law his worth was the value of that contract, which he broke; and he was aware of how much his employer thought him to be worth, so tough!

Mutu appealed this judgement and it all went back - along with two QCs and nine top solicitors - to CAS for a third time.

It was not third time lucky, though. CAS upheld Fifa's decision and vindicated Chelsea's decision to terminate the contract and pursue mitigation through the courts. Also ignored were Mutu's arguments on Chelsea's failure to pursue correct disciplinary procedures, and other complaints.

It was, in short, a big win for the Blues. But will they see their money?

Hmm, it depends on which lawyer you talk to. I spoke to three and got three different answers - "no", "hard to say" and "maybe".

The first, an experienced CAS warrior, was astounded by the ruling, could not think of a single case where an employer got anything other than nominal damages from an employee it had sacked and said this ruling would be impossible to enforce. He also thought it was motivated by revenge.

The second, a Dutch lawyer who defends players' rights, was surprised Mutu's team did not challenge the application of English law earlier, worried about the precedent it set for players' freedom of movement and said bankruptcy was Mutu's only option if he could not bring Juve, Livorno and Fiorentina into the equation.

And the third acknowledged the "unique nature" of both this ruling and how it applied to football, and said this was a "huge wake-up call" to players who might be tempted to break a contract ahead of time or pursue a playboy lifestyle.

The truth of it, as I see it, is they're all probably a little bit right, as are Fifa and Chelsea, which makes me think of Oscar Wilde's observation about fox-hunting being "the unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable".

On the one hand, Mutu clearly behaved like an idiot. But he owned up, sorted himself out - on and off the field - and is back doing what he does best, scoring and creating goals. Given that, does this judgment sound fair to you?

On the other hand, his behaviour cost Chelsea a lot of money. Busted flushes and bad punts are part and parcel of the transfer game but Mutu's failure at Stamford Bridge was a result of his unprofessional (and illegal) shenanigans. I think I would be annoyed about this too, no matter how many super-yachts I had moored in the Med.

So what we're left with is compromised justice that satisfies nobody and spawns more questions than answers. How very football.

The postscript to this is that news of Mutu's latest legal setback came on the same day the football world heard of Sir Bobby Robson's death. I can't think of a better illustration of why Robson's passing seemed so significant. He was a link to a time when the very idea of any of this happening would have been unthinkable.

* As well as my blogs, you can follow me when I'm out and about on Twitter

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    this still hurts my head at how much he will have to earn to pay this back?!?

    Let's just hope he is sensible with his money and has some stashed away in Switzerland.

  • Comment number 2.

    If the decisions are deemed to be correct, which they are, then even if Chelsea gets nothing, it should help to stop players 'breaking their contract' in the future to secure a transfer.

    If you let one player break away from his responsibilities under a contract, then everyone will have a go.

  • Comment number 3.

    You spelt abroad wrong 17 paragraphs down- thought you should know. Congrats on the article though.

  • Comment number 4.

    Everything seems right, except that the sum of money seems obscene.

    And this is due to the sums of money in football are obscene.

    Perhaps he should be thankful he's not also serving a jail term.

  • Comment number 5.

    It's about time someone gave the public an insight into this debacle.

    The ruling just seems a bit kangaroo-courtish and that Chelsea are pulling the strings too - Mutu's effectively covering his transfer and the flights!

    I always thought Mutu was a forward and not a midfielder (re the Romanian Beckham comment). Excellent post though.

    All the best,
    MOP13
    http://manonplatform13.blogspot.com/


  • Comment number 6.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 7.

    Very good article. It covers the overriding notions and themes of this very complicated case without getting bogged down with legal terms and technical mumbo-jumbo. That itself is an achievement that could only be matched by Mutu actually paying the compensation!

    The fact that Livorno's 'signing' is but a sidenote in this whole thing furthers demonstrates just how mental this whole case is. I hope the legal fees have been worth it. It would be a good statement from Chelsea if they pledged to donate Mutu's compensation towards anti-drugs and rehabilitation initiatives. Then we'd know for sure whether there's been a moral dimension to it all.

  • Comment number 8.

    You say he sorted himself out. But would he have gone to sporting chance clinic or owned up ha he not been caught? Chelsea are right to rinse him of all the money he has. They paid loads for him, kids looked up to him as a role model, and he disgraced himself, he shouldn't be trying to appeal and getting himself in the news more, should just be getting his head down scoring goals and paying off his fine without a word.

  • Comment number 9.

    does this mean that if a club wish to sell a player who does not wish to leave then he could sue his club for breach of contract and demand all his remaining contract to be paid off? if a player gets signed with a promise of a successful season but then get relegated (newcastle for example) can the players sue the club for incompetence/unprofessional conduct..... where does it end?

  • Comment number 10.


    DorsetTangerine are you for real?? this blog is about football not the English language!!! Great and well put out blog i hope that this continues to hang over Mutu's head so that both he and others realise that to be a professional footballer you have to be a professional!

  • Comment number 11.

    does he actually have that kind of money ?

  • Comment number 12.

    How interesting would it be if Chelsea drew Fiorentina in this seasons Champions League.

  • Comment number 13.

    I think there may be more personal issues involved. This kid had it all at a young age, he was world class, had a beautiful wife and had just been bought to play football for one of the biggest teams in the world. Everything would be going to his head and after an excellent start to his season he was getting recognised everywhere...which leads to all the preasures he was enduring. Because he felt he was such a big person he wanted to live the big lifestyle, and now football clubs want to get involved in players personal lives more i think Chelsea could be held slightly respsonsible, not legally, but held reesponsible that they didn't look after him- a young lad with a big name and reputation in a new country? He needed to be looked after and mentored i believe. Just a different angle am trying to offer here.

  • Comment number 14.

    I agree with jabba 75, where will this end? Being able to claim money back because they didn't get what they wanted out of him, in that case Deco better watch his back after his first season! (Or anyone brought by overspending clubs like Man City and Real Madrid.)
    They decided to sack him. They could have stuck by him, like Man Utd and Rio a few years ago, but they cast him out. They're just bitter because he came back bigger and stronger. If he was playing in the Romanian third decision no-one would care.
    Surely Fifa should use this to try getting a hand on the ridiculous amounts of money being spent in world football...

  • Comment number 15.

    Regardless of Chelsea's dubious motivations, the club's valuation of Mutu was ludicrous — the value of a player is established by a mixture of things including previous price, form, age, contract length and how much someone will pay. No one would have paid much for a banned Mutu.

    But the truly absurd thing is that Mutu is considered responsible for the fee of signing a replacement. It makes a mockery of English law. Clearly this calls for an invasion of Switzerland by a UN force of US, Australian and Russian troops led by a UK general and paid for by France.


  • Comment number 16.

    Seems a bit stiff for sticking a bit of Columbian Moon Dust up your hooter!! He cleaned himself up and should of been supported by his club! Chelsea's bosses have stitched him up because they knew that they wouldn't get anywhere near their money back if they were to sell him at that time!! So they sacked him for breach of contract and now are trying to sue him! Very oppertunistic! I think that he obviously regrets the decisions he took during his Chelsea career as he has gone onto be successful after! Chelsea should have stuck by their player, cleaned him up and sold him on after if they still didn't want him not try to ruin his life for making a mistake. There's deffinately no heart left in football anymore, not since Sir Bobby died!

  • Comment number 17.

    Some of you guys are so judgmental. He was a young kid who got carried away with the money and fame, and did a bit of coke - big deal. OK, he messed up, but he's sorted himself out now. £15m for a dabble with drugs is a ridiculous and disproportianate punishment. And for abramovich; a man who's been accused of fraud, theft, blackmail and bribery; to take the moral highground over a bit of social drug-taking is a bit rich (pun intended).

    When the likes of Tony Adams admitted alcoholism and even admitted playing under the influence at times; he went on to become a national hero after dealing with his problems. Chelsea could have offered some support to a player that obviously struggled to deal with his new-found celebrity status. They chose not to, which is their prerogative, but I think now it's time to cut him some slack and let him get on with his life.

  • Comment number 18.

    Wow, great article...

    I believe that thier are too many things to factor in for any of our opinions to really have any great standing on this one... This can not be compared to a regular work tribunal... for example my company did not "buy" me from another when i took employment, and as sums of money in football grow so too will the fines which are incured. Players are huge investments. If i were to spend 15mil on new machinery for one of our factories, and then it was unuseable because of a legal implication, that was no way my responsibility... would i not be entitled to recoup my losses....????
    Now my head does hurt! I am going to stop thinking about this...

    One thing for sure, this has set a precedent for footbal clubs/players. This wont be the last time this happens... Though if it helps control substance abuse... it is a good thing!

    Just say no! (Where was Zammo when he needed him!?)

  • Comment number 19.

    Chris10563 wrote:
    Clearly this calls for an invasion of Switzerland by a UN force of US, Australian and Russian troops led by a UK general and paid for by France.

    ---------

    Perhaps an invasion and plundering of Romania by French, German and Italian troops, led by a Swiss general and financed by Russia and England, would be more fitting given the composition of the prosecution!

  • Comment number 20.

    18. At 4:50pm on 10 Aug 2009, RedBlueArmy92

    If i were to spend 15mil on new machinery for one of our factories, and then it was unuseable because of a legal implication, that was no way my responsibility... would i not be entitled to recoup my losses....????

    -------------------------------

    He was only unusable for 7 months!! That's how much compensation he should pay back!! Chelsea saw an oppertunity!

  • Comment number 21.

    By the way, I've just seen a picture of the TV presenter he was married to. You'd have to be on drugs too to want to mess up a relationship with a girl who looked like that. Cocaine or Alexandra Dinu? What an idiot Mutu was.

  • Comment number 22.

    paulmc_hfc - No idea. He banked about £3m from his time at Chelsea and was no doubt on great money at Inter, Verona and Parma before, and probably good money at Juve and Fiorentina since. But enough to have £15m in readies? He will also have pretty hefty legal bills now (he has already been charged a relatively nominal amount for Chelsea's costs and a bill for CAS's time is on its way) so that is why many pundits in Italy are predicting bankruptcy. He could then, I suppose, play on for a few more years to rebuild his nest egg.

    MrBlueBurns - I think you're right and I think that is why many of the big clubs (and Fifa) will be delighted about this. One of the lawyers I spoke said this whole case was about reinforcing the idea of contractual stability and it is mentioned more than once in the judgement. A lot of big clubs have been worried about this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Webster_ruling the Mutu ruling swings things back the other way a bit.

    dorsettangerine - nice to have you abroad, sorry, aboard.

    robbyking - Fair enough but it would have to be a lot of cocaine, and probably more than once, to actually end up in prison these days.

    che_don_john - Excellent point. Over to you, Roman!

    Faith Full Imp - But you too make a very good point....you see, this is a complicated moral issue! My take is that (most) people deserve a second chance (I've needed a few) and Mutu has at least grasped his. £15m just seems like an awful lot of money, particularly when you consider the totally subjective nature of football transfers/valuations and all the other variables that can affect how much any footballer is "worth". Isn't that just the nature of the game?

    jabba75 - You're right: who knows? I assume, however, no clubs have actually got to the point yet where they are writing their aspirations into players' contracts. Surely that would be taking 'player power' to scary lengths. It would season ticket-holders suing clubs next for coming 7th not 6th or failing to sign that holding midfielder.

    hashger - Great shout. Can you imagine the revenge Mutu could serve up then?

    Kimber-Batov - You're absolutely right to point that out and that's the conclusion many have taken in Romania and Italy. A modern morality tale of fame and fortune turning a pretty decent chap's head. Let's not forget that his excuse for using cocaine was that he wanted it to boost his sexual performance. What would Brian Clough make of that?

    fowlerwillriseagain - I detect a certain partiality with that username but I think you might be on to something...but not entirely right. To be fair to Chelsea they committed to this route long before Mutu revived his football career with Fiorentina.

  • Comment number 23.

    I'm guessing he will appeal, and the fine will be reduced significantly if not eliminated completely.

    I feel Mutu is being made a scapegoat, for all we know hundreds of players have done it before and escaped, or are still doing it escaping the random drug test.

    £15million is a ridiculous sum of money to pay for taking drugs (in reality that is all it is, everything else is secondary).

    It would be such an occasion if Mutu was to return to Stamford Bridge, not too pay his fine but to dump Chelsea out of Europe :D.

  • Comment number 24.

    Hashger - He can't appeal the compensation, CAS's judgements are final and binding. His only appeal option is to challenge the process/jurisdiction through the Swiss federal court. All the lawyers I spoke to said this is very unlikely. The options they proposed were:

    a) Ignore the judgement, keep playing, keep his nose clean, make Chelsea pursue him for the money through the Italian or Romanian civil courts.

    b) Countersue Juve/Livorno to make them take some of the financial burden.

    c) Declare himself bankrupt.

  • Comment number 25.

    Knowing his luck he'll probably go on one hell of a binge the day before he declares himself bankrupt and end up on fraud charges for building up debts he never intends to pay back!!

  • Comment number 26.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 27.

    I live in Bucharest and this topic has arisen over many beers I regularly drink with the locals here. The joke is that if every Romanian donated 1 Euro to his cause he would generate enough money to pretty much pay it all off. The problem is a lot of Romanians think he is a an uneducated stupid fool. He of course still has his fans but not half as many before this whole debacle happened.

    It is an extortionate amount of money that needs to be paid, I don't believe he has close to that amount so bankruptcy is probably his best solution.

  • Comment number 28.

    This case just serves to show what a lottery life is.
    Mutu gets caught and ends up with a bill for 15million. Many other players dont and its brushed under the carpet. Some players fail to show up for the test, get a relatively short ban, and still play for their countries.
    At the moment when a person rolls up the tenner and leans over the mirror, do you think they realise that, the consequences could be so divergent?
    The injustice of this case makes my head spin.

  • Comment number 29.

    The fine is ludicrous and smells like revenge. If I get fired from my job - perhaps for wasting time reading and commenting BBC blogs - I wouldn't expect to get fined, too, to boot.

    But I do believe clubs should have the right to sack under performing players. The players seem to want equal rights to other employees, e.g. freedom of movement, but part of a regular job is that if you are no good at what you were hired for, or break company policies, you'll run the risk of being fired. So how about holding players accountable for relegations, for example. If you were hired as a premier league goal scorer, but failed to find the net and hardly showed commitment on or off the pitch, and your team subsequently suffers relegation, why should you still be allowed to sit back and earn huge wages at Championship level (or reserve team football)? Under performing managers get sacked all the time (yes, they usually get compensated, but still...). Let the players feel the heat too.

  • Comment number 30.

    The whole incident is a sorry mess and just strengthens my opinion that football is no longer a sport but a multi million pound business full of overpaid and underworked players.

  • Comment number 31.

    Surely there is only one answer for players to cover themselves from such ridiculously large compensation claims. Sign one year season by season contracts and move on "Bosman" free transfers so that you can't be held responsible for inflated transfer fees.

    If "his worth was the value of that contract" then surely that should be determined by his wages? i.e. 2.35M/yr for the remainder of his contract, so 8.8M GBP. Still obscene but sounds more of a reasonable estimation of his contract value.

    And can you tell me, why is this being calculated by FIFA and CAS in euros and not GBP? Seems illogical seeing this is based on a British contract under British law.

    I think Mutu has many reasons to feel aggrieved and victimised by this.

  • Comment number 32.

    The ' ruling ' is nonsense and as another blogger says ' kangarooish '.
    In today's crazy football world, with millions of pounds spent daily on talent varying from 'lumps of wood' to true super stars, it is unlikely that ALL of the talent on display in Europe on any weekend during the season would pass a drug test for 'recreational' drugs.
    So Mutu failed one and Chelsea , instead of helping him ( their asset ) to clean up , sort himself out and develop into a loyal and brilliant player, threw him to the wolves.!
    Half of ' the City ' and other mega rich notables in the Entertainment business would also be on the scrap heap now, if this type of ' Court of Arbitration for Sports' ...... Lawmakers charter was allowed, it's utter rubbish. ?? Fine him and close the book.
    Chelsea football club, hang your head in shame !

  • Comment number 33.

    Dear Matt,

    Excellent article.

    Chelsea performed a test on Mutu then handed this to the anti doping body, which found Mutu guilty!
    Breach of contract they say? And it is not Chelsea who breach Mutu's contract?
    Mutu's legal team is definitely bad.

    Another piece of the puzzle. If Mutu was english, Chelsea would have never done such a thing! Look and see around in England, these clubs who stand by their players who commit assaults which are caught on camera.

    This shows why Chelsea is not “a great club!”

  • Comment number 34.

    madeiraman57 wrote:
    Fine him and close the book.
    Chelsea football club, hang your head in shame !
    -----------------------------------------------------------------

    He signed the contract and was warned about drug use. Mark Bosnich was sacked for the same offense - if you want the money on offer you adhere to the contract you sign.

    Their are contracts rues of law and drug laws - god knows how many he broke - Its about time people lived uop their their responsibilties and dispensed with their sense of entitlement.

    He took a risk got caught and has to pay - good luck on him turninghis career around, perhaps Chelsea did do him a massive favour by making him realize he had flocked up everything and he had to get back to earning money to play off the fine.

  • Comment number 35.

    It's such a tough 1 to pass judgement on, because you can't help but feel sorry for Mutu. He was an idiot but it was a mistake & he made up for it.

    Rio missed his drug test at United but they stood by him & believed in him. I know Mutu actually got caught here with drugs in his system but Chelsea seemed like they had no intention of hearing the player out, giving him a chance to redeem himself. It's almost like they were looking for a reason to rid themselves of Mutu & here was the opportunity. While he did wrong, you have to say Chelsea were ruthless.

  • Comment number 36.

    Don't understand why Chelsea get a penny. They decided to sack him, they weren't forced to. I also don't understand why he didn't say he would have honoured his contract, it was Chelsea's decision to rip it up.

    Unless there was a clause in the contract that stipulated full reimbursement from the player for the transfer fee if he commits gross misconduct, then they shouldn't have had a leg to stand on.

    I also don't see how this doesn't equate to slavery and therefore illegal under European and British law. They've basically said they bought a person, fired him and now want their money back because he was naughty.

    Things like this should prove the unraveling of all football transfers and player contracts, because things like this legal case make football players, and therefore human beings, property.

    The European Union has already come close to saying contracts are illegal under European Law, where everyone has the right to freedom of employment and therefore can quit one job to move to another. Employers are not allowed to own people and force them to work for them, end of story.

    Because The FA, UEFA and FIFA have dealt with this case so disgracefully, if I was him I'd go straight to the European Courts of Human Rights and take down the entire transfer/player contract system.

  • Comment number 37.

    First of all I'm grateful, that despite the brain damage you reviewed this whole matter. I had been wondering where it had gone. At the time I supported Chelsea for the early stance they took on the matter. It was the first time really that a current top international star player had his contract instantly terminated. From that point on it was logical for Chelsea to pursue some legal redress.
    Interesting then to learn of the additional background information to the case.
    Now, some years later and with his career saved it may appear that the judgement is harsh. However, this verdict does have important ramifications for other players flirting with breaching the terms of their contract. Clubs should have some redress and the compensation must be relevant to the sums invested and potentially lost. I don't know if 17m Euros is fair but this precedent needed to be set.
    Footballers can't have it both ways. A contract providing them with security and a host of benefits on their side, but no protection for the employer when they seek to break it or as in this case breach it. If footballers want their service to be considered a job, just like the rest of us, they will need to think very carefully about what they will be giving up. I, for one, would love to see the current ludicrous transfer system torn down and see football rejoin planet earth. Trouble is, what would replace it?

    Its a dirty game, for sure. On the pitch, in the boardroom, or in the courtroom it seems. Oh well Mutu, easy come, easy go - now be a good lad and pass me the blow.....

  • Comment number 38.

    I think that Mutu was very foolish throughout this process, and very badly advised. Yes, he made a mistake in taking the drugs and in being caught, and there might well have been other factors inside the club, maybe about his behaviour/performance, about which we know nothing, that prompted Chelsea to pursue him for money.
    But when Chelsea began to pursue him he would have been much better served by his legal team if they had advised him to seek an out of court settlement; he might have gotten away with a payment to Chelsea of several millions, and the same for his legal bill - maybe GBP 4 to 6 million in total, and it would all have been done and dusted in about 18 months.
    Instead of taking his punishment, however, he chose to go down the route of court action, and should have been told that ultimately the court of last appeal was the CAS, and if he lost there, then the legal costs for his own side would have been much higher, he would have to pay the legal costs for Chelsea, and he would face a fine of unknown proportions - but he certainly could not have expected a bill of less than GBP 12 million for all the rounds of legal activity that would end up with him in the CAS.
    However surprising the size of the fine, then, it is difficult to not say: "Serves him right - he cheated, got caught and fought the sentence all the way; having lost he has to pay the price."

  • Comment number 39.

    I think the ruling is completely inhumane, it's not like Chelsea even need the money. Abramovic would probaly call it 'chicken feed'.
    Its a club who paid twice as much for Shevchenko who was as big a flop as Mutu.

  • Comment number 40.

    Are many of the posters on this blog not missing the point, whatever the fine eventually finishes up at he has been fined basically for drug taking.Who in their right minds can condone that?

  • Comment number 41.

    Perhaps the most ironic thing about this, if I recall correctly, is that at some point wasn't Mutu studying to become a lawyer whilst he plied his trade as a professional footballer at Chelsea?

    I have very few memories in this country, though the one that stands out is him cracking in a 25 yarder and thinking 'This boy is special'.

    For litigation purposes, it looks like he is!

    Anyway, I hope this all gets sorted out, it's beyond the ridiculous and reeks of nothing more than petty persecution by Chelsea who had the opportunity to offer him a chance to redeem himself but took the more 'unsporting' method, terminated his contract and are now seeking recompense.

    It may seem daft but 'You're firing me, terminating my contract, and then pursuing me for the value of the rest of the contract?' - It's beyond logic.

  • Comment number 42.

    #40 I don't think the posters are condoning drug taking but the punishment doesn't fit the crime. You get caught with some cocaine for your personal use and you will be given a police caution or a fine in the mags court if it your first offence. And yes I know what I am talking about.

    This isn't right and the process and fine are OTT. Also if you were at the police station and had cocaine in your system you wouldn't be charged with an offence as 'having taken cocaine' just isn't an offence.

    Have a look at #17, sums it up for me.



  • Comment number 43.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 44.

    This decision is ridiculous!

    At the end of the day if he was sacked from working in a shop after being on cocaine, no-one would chase him for money. Just because he's good at football rather than a 'normal' job hes being punished ridiculously for what is essentially a mistake. Is it worth basically trying to ruin his life simply to score points? I'd say not

  • Comment number 45.

    I agree with ArcticAndy, #36. If I am reading this story correctly, Chelsea dropped him. They could have sold him, but they just let him go. Then they sued him for all the money they perceived themselves to have lost, yet without making any attempt to recoup that money through normal channels. Someone else said that he should be on the hook for the FA suspension and that makes some sense. Otherwise, this is a vendetta and the CAS has set a brutal precedent. I doubt many players will be willing to take that route anymore, which slightly undermines its purpose and neutrality.

  • Comment number 46.

    I bet Chelsea will not see one penny.

    CAS are an arbitration body and they would need to be recognised by the underlying legal system (where Mutu resides I think, possibly where he has assets also). But here is where it becomes interesting: Arbitration bodies draw strength from having courts uphold/enforce their decisions, they have no enforcement capabilities themselves. Mutu did choose to use them but they are not all powerful and they certainly do not superceed the law of a given land. This could destroy CAS because if say Chelsea persue the money via the Italian legal system (well known to side with employees as opposed to companies and even more so when the company is an English football team) and lose, what power are they left with? they become merely a kangeroo court which is akin to destruction.

    I think ideas that Chelsea planned this from the start are just crazy and give them way too much credit. They overpaid for Mutu and then fired him because at the time they were obsessed with broadcasting a positive message about Chelsea, the drugs issue gave them the ability to take a well publised high ground. They would have certainly known about the drug use for some time before the test and they were trying to manage the discovery in a positive way for their image. There is no way they sat in an office somewhere saying 'we will fire him when he gets caught, then when he recovers and is playing well again we can sue him for damages'.

    If I were his lawyers I would tell him to ignore the judgement, let them start the process all over again in a real legal system. The best possible outcome is that it would take 2-3years to get process (remember the appeal system will still be available, even if Chelsea were to win initially) then move to Saudi or similar for a last payday, let them start all over again.

    Even for football and Chelsea this is one of the most crazy stories I have ever heard. Football needs a wake up call, just because football chooses to operate in an alternate reality it cannot oppose that reality on the real world. Or put another way the clowns will never run the circus.


  • Comment number 47.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 48.

    A lucid, picturesque well-written piece. A very engrossing read. Its like a pneumatic hammer, on the nail, effective and unrelenting.
    There is only one aspect which has been left completely in the dark. If Muttu was such a precious asset to Chelsea, surely the club must have tried all within its reach to retrieve the situation. Instead they resorted to their own private drug tests, alert WADA and later pursued the legal option. It couldn't have been for fun or a mere desire to gain a 'moral high ground', as some put it. They must have made all possible efforts and truly failed before abandoning their flamboyantly inclined prize acquisition.
    This part must have been chronicled somewhere and should have been highlighted in this piece. There is an imbalance. And it has prompted many to sympathise with Muttu, pointing to the 'obscenity' of the huge sum imposed as a compensation. It is a natural tendency, when an individual is pitted against an institution, to side with the individual without delving too much into the ethics of the case. Whether it is grossly unfair to Chelsea or not, it is not right to pass judgment after seeing only one side.
    Nonetheless I feel grateful for the big effort made by the author. A refreshing change.

  • Comment number 49.

    Can I ask why my post was removed? (Comment #47)

    I don't see how it broke the house rules in any way. Perhaps the drug references, but other posters have commented fairly openly about drugs?

  • Comment number 50.

    I don't think it's just that he should have to pay his transfer fee - he should have to pay compensation according to the money he was about to earn under his contract, and possibly would need to return some of what he earned at Chelsea, the sign up bonus, and salaries while he was doing coke and partying. Maybe some damages caused by him getting suspended for 7 months. But that's about it.

    But why should anybody be responsible for the ridiculous transfer fees one club decides to pay another for a player? Certainly not Mutu's fault. A just ruling would say tough luck for Chelsea - it could just as easily happen - and in fact happens every year - that they pay 5M or 10M pounds for a player who underperforms and never was worth that money to begin with. The responsibility and risk associated with paying Millions should be with those people who buy and sell - the clubs. Not the players.

    A just verdict would have him treated like any other high profile contract employee. He never saw any of his own transfer fee, why should be be in any way responsible for it? The argument that Chelsea made, that they had to pay X amount for his replacement, should have been thrown out of court immediately - a ridiculous assumption. Is Real Madrid now going to sue some ex-player because "we had to replace him with Cristiano Ronaldo, and he cost us 80M". No way.

  • Comment number 51.

    Why do people like to point out spelling mistakes? Reminds me of being at school, not reading an article online. P.S if I have spelt anything wrong please think of your carbon footprint before pointing it out, thanks.

  • Comment number 52.

    I see that many of you have been unable to grasp what has actually happened here. For those of you claiming that Chelsea are doing this only for the money are wrong, as it was Mutu who took them to court in an attempt to gain compensation. What sort of man who was sacked for being constantly high on coke and was out clubbing every night has the cheek to attempt to gain compensation for being sacked. The club tried to handle it sensibly (because it was obvious to all that he was on some sort of drugs) but got fined by the F.A for testing their own player. Therefore they saw him as a liability and instead realised they would have to get a company who could legally drug test him in.
    I do believe 15 million pounds is a bit OTT the CAS only seem to keep increasing it every time he appeals (maybe he shouldn't have appealed). It seems really Mutu is the one that has not changed as he attempted to claim the rest of his 5 year contract and had it thrown back in his face + the 15 million to make him realise what a fool he is.

  • Comment number 53.

    It is about time players (as well as agents) respected their contracts. They expect clubs to abide by their side of the contracts but do not seem to believe that the clauses also bind them. Mutu broke his contract - plain and simple. Why should Chelsea take a financial hit because one of their players acted stupidly. I say this very rarely - but good luck Chelsea getting as much of the money back as possible.

  • Comment number 54.

    Being a Romanian and a sports journalist too, I know a bit more about this affair. First of all, I agree with the people that said he was a misguided youth. Just imagine the difference between life in Parma and life in London... suddenly being paid much more than you can spend, thousands of fans cheering you on, screaming your name as you score goals, driving fancy sports cars, your face on ad-boards all over town... then it all starts to go: change of manager, more money being pumped into the club and more strikers being brought in, you stop scoring goals, you're on the sidelines, your marriage is going to bits... you're on the way to becoming a has-been at only 25, all alone in a totally different world than Pitesti, where you grew up. I'm not saying he was right to turn to powdering his nose, I'm just saying Chelsea should have done something for him the moment they noticed something was wrong with him.

    Secondly, to answer another poster's question, no, he does not have that kind of money. He never earned tons of dosh from football except when he was at Chelsea and maybe now with Fiorentina. Anyway, sensing that the CAS ruling might not go his way, he transfered most of his belongings to other people, so now he doesn't have much to his name.

    My oppinion is that not a cent will be given to Chelsea. He's going to take this to civil court and win it. I also don't think he should take this as it is: just pay the money and get on with his life. Sure, he made a mistake, disappointed thousands of fans and made us Romanians look bad. BUT he bounced right back when everyone thought he was finished, he got his career and his personal life back on track... and 17 million euros is 17 MILLION EUROS!

  • Comment number 55.

    A few people seem to be missing the point here. Mutu has not been fined for taking drugs, he has been sued for breaching his employment contract with Chelsea. Because of his breach of contract Chelsea were allowed to terminate that employment contract (which I believe they also did with Bosnich) and also sue him for his breach.

    Someone above said that if you were sacked from a shop you wouldn't be sued for it. Chances are you won't because (a) your contract is worthless as you'd only need to give a week's notice of your intention to leave, and (b) the shop is unlikely to have paid your previous employer £15.8 million for your services. If you breach an employment contract then you could find yourself being sued by that employer, but in most cases it doesn't make commercial sense as the sums of money involved, legal costs and risk of failure don't make it worth it. However, in this case Chelsea lost an asset they had just paid £15.8 million for + signing on fees and wages only 15 months previously so they must have thought it was worth pursuing.

    A few comparisons to the Rio situation. However, Rio was not caught taking drugs so it might be there was no clause in his contract allowing them to terminate it. In any event, it is irrelevant to the present case. Just because Man Utd didn't sack Rio doesn't mean Chelsea can't sack Mutu, it's an option available to the employer.

    And to Articandy saying "I also don't understand why he didn't say he would have honoured his contract", how would that have solved anything? Abramovich would have laughed if Mutu had walked into his office and said "you don't need to sack me, I will let you continue to pay me tens of thousands of pounds every week for the next 3-4 years even though I'm suspended for pretty much an entire season and you will need to replace me for that period". Ridiculous idea.

    In any event Mutu was the first to contest his sacking, not the other way round. It was only when he appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport that Chelsea submitted a compensation claim.

  • Comment number 56.

    I just want to say after the reading the awful polemic that Gordon Farquhar dished up over the BCCI and WADA, I am impressed and heartened by your work.

    A deliberate and clear presentation of facts, considered opinion from all sides and genuine insight. A quality piece of journalism. You have a convert and I look forward to more of your posts.

  • Comment number 57.

    First of all, great blog Matt, it's good to hear a more in-depth, factual explanation about all this than the sensationalist articles in many of the papers. But I can't help but wonder whether the fact that Mutu was sacked could be down to the changing attitude of a then recently cash-rich football club? I mean that summer saw extravagant spending on the likes of Bridge, Duff, Ambrosio, Geremi, Joe Cole, Veron, Makelele, Crespo, Smertin AND Mutu join the Stamford Bridge outfit. Part of me thinks that maybe when this scandal arose Chelsea decided that it would just be easier to dismiss Mutu and delve into that (at the time) seemingly bottomless transfer kitty to purchase another striker? If so it would suggest a worrying attitude towards the relationship between overly cash-rich clubs and their players. Had Chelsea signed Mutu pre-Russian takeover I firmly believe they would have been more willing to stand by him and guide him through these problems. Furthermore, is it just coincidence that now we know Abromavich's pocket's aren't bottomless this is rearing its ugly head again?

  • Comment number 58.

    All sounds perfectly fair to me.

    Mutu, effectively got out of his contract at Chelsea by virtue of his behaviour, he then signed for another club for free, meaning in this day and age that he probably got a much higher wage than he would have got had Juve/Livorno had to pay the £10m or so he would likely have cost.

  • Comment number 59.

    Hello all, I just wanted to say thanks to everybody who read the blog and got involved (particularly the contributions from Romania, welcome!).

    And there were some really good late posts...too many to answer now but I'll do a few quick ones.

    pablue (31) - Funny you mention his wages being a better estimate of his "value". Chelsea wanted both! Without my notes in front of me I think their actual compensation request was 33m euros. Fifa only "partially" accepted their claim, saying no to the wages but yes to transfer fee. As for the euros not pounds issue, not sure, they had to pick one currency and stick to it, though, so you could argue that euros made as much sense as pounds. Could have been Swiss Francs, I suppose.

    arcticandy (36) - You make some interesting points and while I didn't really explore all the possible ramifications of this ruling it was exactly your conclusion that kind of attracted me to the story in the first place. Is this case a Bosman or a one-off?

    banks_what_banks (46) - Your take on this is v similar to the first lawyer I refer to in the piece...he was the one who called it 'monkey's logic' too. He thinks the Italian courts would knock this back and if they don't the Romanian ones definitely would.

    chelsea_bad_man (52) - You correctly spotted that the amount seemed to keep going up for Mutu, even though Fifa/Cas did not agree entirely with Chelsea's claim. Two reasons for this: one, euro v pound exchange worked in Chelsea's favour when they bought him and in their compensation claim (double whammy); and two, Cas corrected a mistake that Fifa made with its compensation formula. It worked out the sum as his transfer fee times 15/60 (months served of a five-year deal). But the actual contract was for 58.5 months so it should have been fee x 15/58.5......told you it was migraine-inducing!

  • Comment number 60.

    He got what he deserved, a move to one of the biggest clubs in the world and he decides to snort coke. The guy is a idiot, he is almost certainly loaded and if not he would have been if he had taken his chance with Chelsea.
    Thousands of people out there would kill to have the chance he had and he blew it big time, you make your bed, then you have to lie in it.

 

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.