GENEVA: Egypt goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary has lost his last appeal in a legal battle with FIFA, and must finally serve a four-month ban for breaking his contract with former club Al-Ahly.
The Swiss Federal Court said on Friday it dismissed El-Hadary’s arguments, after he lost previous rulings at FIFA’s disputes panel and the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
El-Hadary claimed that, at age 37, the ban would negatively affect the rest of his career, and he could not afford from his monthly salary with new club Zamalek to pay Al-Ahly the $796,500 (€565,000) compensation ordered by CAS.
El-Hadary broke FIFA transfer rules by walking out midseason to join Swiss club Sion in 2008 within days of helping Egypt win the African Cup of Nations.
It was not immediately clear when El-Hadary’s suspension from club and international football will take effect.
El-Hadary played his 123rd match for Egypt last Sunday, when it lost 1-0 away to Niger in a qualifier for the 2012 African Cup of Nations. Egypt is the three-time defending champion in the biennial tournament with El-Hadary in goal.
He is likely to miss Egypt’s friendly against Australia in Cairo on Nov. 17. He could be eligible to return at its next qualifier scheduled for March 26 against South Africa in Johannesburg.
FIFA’s decision to ban Sion from signing players for one year also was upheld in June by the CAS, world sport’s highest court of appeal.
Because CAS is based in Lausanne, Switzerland, El-Hadary and his former club were able to pursue cases at the federal supreme court which can rule on abuse of legal process.
Sion’s separate appeal was rejected this week, and it was barred from signing players during the January 2011 transfer window and next offseason.
When El-Hadary demanded a move to Sion he became the first player exploiting the so-called "Webster Ruling" — named after Scottish defender Andy Webster, who won a landmark freedom of contract case at CAS.
That CAS panel in January 2008 said Article 17 of FIFA’s transfer rules meant players could force a move after completing a certain period of their contract. Their old club would get no transfer fee but receive compensation equal to the remaining salary due to be paid.
However, FIFA rules also state that contracts "cannot be unilaterally terminated during the course of a season."
CAS backed the FIFA decision and ordered compensation also because Al-Ahly was denied the chance to sell El-Hadary.