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Valparaiso Univ. Law School

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Friday, February 24, 2012

Did Fabio Capello Breach His Contract by Criticizing the Football Association?

Fabio-CapelloAccording to The Guardian, Fabio Capello (pictured), manager of England’s national football team could be in breach of contract after publicly challenging the Football Association’s (FA) decision to strip John Terry, England’s national football team captain, of his captaincy.  The Guardian reports that the FA made this decision after John Terry allegedly racially abused English footballer, Anton Ferdinand.  Capello was upset that this decision was taken without consulting him.  Capello said that he felt “undermined by the FA decision to notify him after the decision had  been made.

Capello also objects to the substance of the decision, finding it premature.  Preferring civil justice to sports justice, Capello believes that Terry should remain captain until the courts decide whether he committed the crime. 

While the details of Capello’s contract are unknown, People Management reports the contract likely gives the FA final say regarding squad selection, but does that also relate to choosing the team captain?   People Management also suspects that the contract contains some sort of gag provision and notes that in the UK, senior executive contracts often contain a provision preventing the employee from bringing the company into disrepute or making a public statement that is in direct conflict with a statement made by the employer.  If Capello’s contract contained this provision, he may be in breach for making his views, opposing the FA’s decision, public.  Whether such a remedy entitles the FA to treat Capello’s conduct as a repudiation of the agreement or can serve as grounds for dismissal will turn on the precise contractual language.

As the Guardian reports here, Capello resigned as Manager on February 8th, and the parties agreed to a £1.5 million settlement.  Capello's annucal salary was £6 million.  A confidentiality agreement means we will never get to explore the issues of breach in more detail. 

[JT & Janelle Thompson]

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