Dispute between Leeds-Leipzig tests pandemic transfer rules

March 15, 2022 GMT
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Leeds United manager Jesse Marsch reacts on the touchline during their English Premier League soccer match against Aston Villa at Elland Road, Leeds, England, Thursday, March 10, 2022. (Tim Goode/PA via AP)
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Leeds United manager Jesse Marsch reacts on the touchline during their English Premier League soccer match against Aston Villa at Elland Road, Leeds, England, Thursday, March 10, 2022. (Tim Goode/PA via AP)

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — A multi-million dollar transfer dispute caused by the COVID-19 pandemic over a forward who no longer plays for either Leeds and Leipzig went to the Court of Arbitration for Sport on Tuesday.

Leeds has challenged last year’s FIFA ruling that awarded Leipzig more than 6.7 million euros ($7.4 million) plus 5% interest for France under-21 international Jean-Kévin Augustin.

CAS did not set a date for a verdict in the case.

The dispute arose because of the delayed finish to the pandemic-hit 2019-20 season when Augustin was on loan at Leeds from Leipzig.

The deal signed in January required Leeds to sign Augustin on July 1, 2020, for 21 million euros ($23 million) if the team won promotion to the Premier League.

The shutdown of soccer in the English spring meant Leeds earned promotion in July with Augustin barely involved. He fell out of favor and played parts of only a few games.

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The club said Augustin’s loan agreement expired in June, when the season had been scheduled to end, and it did not have to sign him permanently.

However, FIFA earlier published advice that “it is proposed that contracts be extended until such time that the season does actually end.”

A FIFA tribunal judge sided with Leipzig and awarded the German club money based on the first of three instalment payments that was due in September 2020.

The ruling in June stated “the pandemic cannot release (Leeds) from its payment obligations.”

Augustin, now 24, has since left Leipzig to join Nantes on a free transfer.

Leeds is now coached by Jesse Marsch, an American who was fired by Leipzig in December. The team is in 16th place in the Premier League, two places and four points above the relegation zone.

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