LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — English soccer club Leeds is going to sport’s highest court for a second appeal case involving former striker Jean-Kévin Augustin, this time contesting a $30 million salary settlement in their dispute over a transfer deal during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport said Thursday that a Nov. 16 hearing is set for Leeds to challenge a FIFA award in favor of the French striker.
Leeds was ordered by FIFA in March to pay Augustin more than 24.5 million pounds ($30 million) for breach of a five-year contract agreed in the 2019-20 soccer season affected by the pandemic.
Second-tier Leeds, which is owned by the San Francisco 49ers, lost a first CAS ruling last year. That upheld a FIFA decision ordering Leeds to pay Leipzig a 6.7-million euro ($7.1-million) first instalment in a transfer deal of 21 million euros ($22.4 million) for Augustin.
In both cases Leeds’ lawyers have argued the deal should have been nullified. The 2019-20 soccer season in England paused during the pandemic and finished after June 30 when Augustin’s initial loan period was due to expire.
Leeds was chasing promotion to the Premier League in January 2020 when it signed the former France under-21 forward on loan from Leipzig. The agreement required Leeds to buy Augustin on July 1, 2020, and give him a five-year contract if promotion was secured.
Leeds eventually won the second-tier Championship later that July despite rarely selecting Augustin who had fallen out of favor. During the shutdown, FIFA had advised clubs and players to extend contracts “until such time that the season does actually end.”
After Leeds declined to sign Augustin, it told French club Nantes he could be signed without a fee.
Augustin joined Nantes through the 2021-22 season then moved as a free agent to Swiss club Basel where he now plays.
A FIFA panel of three judges sided with Augustin’s claim and awarded the full value of the five-year contract with Leeds – more than 27 million pounds ($33 million) — less the value of his contracts at Nantes and Basel. They were 2.1 million euros and 1.3 million Swiss francs, respectively.
The judges said the settlement “was to be considered a reasonable and justified amount of compensation for breach of contract in the present matter.”
Leeds has argued Augustin’s “compensation shall be reduced to nil, particularly since he entered into new contracts with Nantes and Basel.”
Leeds was relegated back to the Championship in May.
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