Football’s world governing body, Fifa, has given its reaction to the news that Chelsea and Lens have settled their dispute over the poaching of Gaël Kakuta in 2007. A statement on Fifa’s website says that Fifa “always actively encourages clubs to try to resolve disputes by means of amicable settlements rather than litigation”. But there is clearly a desire by Fifa to stress that its original (and now overturned) verdict against Chelsea was as sound as it could have been.
Fifa’s statement says: “The FIFA Dispute Resolution Chamber (DRC) had issued a first ruling that also banned Chelsea Football Club from registering any new players for two registration periods. However, as the wording of the agreement [between Chelsea and Lens] completely changes the facts given at the moment the DRC passed its decision, Fifa did not oppose to CAS issuing the Award by Consent under the new circumstances.”
In other words, Fifa is saying either “We were given the wrong information when we made our first decision” or “Somebody has since changed their story”. Of course Fifa cannot be as direct as that because it’s too political a situation. But Fifa needs to save face because the clubs, by doing their deal to end the matter with a cash settlement covered by a confidentiality agreement, have risked making the governing body look silly.