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Togo ban to be lifted following CAS mediation.

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) banned the Togo National Football Team from competing in the next two Africa Cup of Nations Competition, for government interference, after they withdrew from the tournament following the fatal attack on their team bus in the Cabinda province of Angola in January of this year.

The CAF President, Issa Hayatou, has agreed to ask his executive committee to lift the ban imposed on Togo, following mediation of their dispute, in which the Togo Football Federation agreed that it had not complied with the CAF regulations.

The mediation was led by the FIFA President, Sepp Blatter, after both parties agreed to interrupt a case due to be heard by the Court of Arbitration of Sport.

"I am very pleased that we have been able to find a solution which is satisfactory for both parties," said Blatter, adding: "The success today is for the entire football community, in particular for African football. This shows that we can solve internal disputes within the football family for the benefit of all those who are involved in our game, and in particular for the players".

The CAF Executive is due to meet on 15 May and is expected to confirm the lifting of the ban on Togo.

Apart from arbitration for settling sports-related disputes, the CAS also offers a mediation service, which was introduced on 18 May, 1999. And, as Ousmane Kane, the former Senior Counsel to the CAS and, during his tenure as such, responsible for mediation, has remarked:
 "The International Council of Arbitration for Sport took the
 initiative to introduce mediation alongside arbitration. As the
 mediation rules encourage and protect fair play and the spirit of
 understanding, they are made to measure for sport."

Article 1, para 1 of the CAS Mediation Rules defines mediation in the following terms:
 "CAS Mediation is a non-binding and informal procedure, based on a
 mediation agreement in which each party undertakes to attempt in
 good faith to negotiate with the other party, and with the
 assistance of a CAS mediator, with a view to settling a
 sports-related dispute".

The CAS has published a 'Mediation Guide' Booklet and there are currently some 65 CAS mediators, of which the author of this Opinion is one of them

Although, to date, there have not been many CAS mediations, the ones that have been held have been successful. Mediation lends itself particularly to the settlement of sports disputes, as the process is confidential - sports bodies and persons prefer to settle their disputes (as noted above) 'within the family of sport' - and relatively quick and inexpensive. In any case, mediation is a 'without prejudice' process, thereby allowing full rein in any subsequent court proceedings that may have to be brought, in the event of the mediation not being successful.

But, mediation, as a former Lord Chancellor of Great Britain and Northern, Lord Irvine of Lairg, has pointed out is "not a panacea for all disputes". For example, it is not appropriate in doping cases - in fact, the CAS Mediation Rules expressly exclude it in such cases - and also where injunctive relief is sought. However, generally speaking, mediation has a success rate of 85% in appropriate cases!
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Author:Blackshaw, Ian
Publication:The International Sports Law Journal
Date:Jul 1, 2010
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