UEFA's disciplinary inspectors have a crucial role to play within the UEFA disciplinary system – and are also important as an upholder of UEFA's values and principles.
The number of cases being handled by UEFA's disciplinary bodies has risen markedly in recent years, leading to an increase in the work undertaken by one of the key components of the UEFA disciplinary system – the UEFA disciplinary inspectors.
Six more disciplinary inspectors have been appointed by the UEFA Executive Committee, and the newcomers have been given a comprehensive overview of their roles and the UEFA disciplinary environment at a workshop at the House of European Football in Nyon.
The UEFA disciplinary inspectors are a UEFA organ for the administration of justice along with the Control and Disciplinary Body (CDB), the Appeals Body (AB) and also the Club Financial Control Body, which is responsible for imposing disciplinary measures in case of non-fulfilment of club licensing/financial fair play requirements and deciding on cases relating to club eligibility for UEFA competitions. Unlike these three organs, the disciplinary inspectors are not entitled to take disciplinary measures.
The UEFA Executive Committee elects the disciplinary inspectors (from candidates proposed by UEFA member associations) for a term of four years, with one of them designated chief inspector. Disciplinary inspectors represent UEFA in proceedings before the disciplinary bodies. They may open disciplinary investigations, and lodge appeals and cross-appeals. The UEFA Executive Committee, the UEFA President, the UEFA General Secretary or the disciplinary bodies may also commission disciplinary inspectors to conduct investigations alone or in cooperation with non-UEFA bodies.
"The number of CDB and AB cases has increased considerably since 2004/05," said UEFA's head of disciplinary and integrity matters, Emilio García. "That is why the Executive Committee has appointed six new disciplinary inspectors. The role of disciplinary inspector is not common in sports law, but it is an important role within UEFA disciplinary proceedings." A total of 13 disciplinary inspectors – mostly lawyers – now work on UEFA's behalf.
The disciplinary inspector investigates offences falling within the scope of application of the UEFA disciplinary regulations. Such investigations are conducted by means of written inquiries and, if necessary, the questioning of individuals. Other investigatory procedures may also be used, such as expert opinions, on-site inspections and document requests. If the disciplinary inspector considers that one or more offences falling within the remit of the disciplinary regulations have been committed, they address their conclusions in the form of a report to the Control and Disciplinary Body for decision.
If the disciplinary inspector is of the view that no offence within the scope of the disciplinary regulations has taken place, they request that the relevant investigation be closed and issue a report to the CDB for decision.
The disciplinary inspectors have two elements – one before the CDB, as investigators and accusers, and another before the Appeals Body as a party.
The function of the disciplinary inspector vis-a-vis the CDB involves proceedings relating to on-field offences – match officials' reports, referees' reports (cautions, dismissals, mistaken identity); reports by the UEFA delegate (improper conduct of supporters, team officials); security officers' reports; and incidents which were not seen by match officials but captured on video or in newspapers. Off the field, the role relates, for example, to match-fixing, inappropriate statements from players or officials towards UEFA, etc.
In AB matters, the disciplinary inspector can be an appellant or a respondent: once they receive a decision of the CDB, they can decide to lodge an appeal in accordance with the disciplinary regulations. As a respondent, when the appellant lodges an appeal, the disciplinary inspector is in charge of preparing a response on behalf of UEFA.
The new disciplinary inspectors were made aware of their importance as an upholder of key UEFA values. "Match-fixing, racism and political messages in the stadium, for example, go against the sporting spirit," said experienced Swiss disciplinary inspector Jean-Samuel Leuba. "You should ensure that UEFA's principles of zero tolerance towards these phenomena are respected."
Emilio García closed the meeting by exchanging the following idea with the new inspectors: "Your duty is very important. It contributes significantly to the high quality of the judgement delivered by the disciplinary bodies."