Lausanne, 20 April 2015 – The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has partially upheld the appeal of the Saudi Arabian football player Nassir Ali N. Alshamrani. The CAS has reduced the 8-match ban to six matches, with two additional matches suspended for a probationary period of two years.
After the 2014 Asian Champions League knockout stage match between Al-Hilal and Western Sydney Wanderers there was a confrontation on the pitch, during which a Western Sydney Wanderers player was spat at and headbutted. After investigating the matter, on 28 November 2014, the AFC Disciplinary Committee issued a decision in which the Al-Hilal player Nassir Ali N. Alshamrani was handed an eight-match ban from playing in the Asian Champions League. Nassir Alshamrani appealed this decision to the AFC Appeal Committee, which rejected the player’s appeal on 27 February 2015.
On 11 March 2015, Nassir Alshamrani filed an appeal at the CAS seeking to reduce the ban, and also requesting that the AFC decision be stayed while the CAS arbitration was taking place. On 17 March 2015, the President of the CAS Appeals Arbitration Division agreed to stay the challenged decision, but only for the games of the AFC Champions League of 17 March and 8 April 2015. With the agreement of the parties, an expedited procedure was put in place in order for a ruling to be delivered by 20 April 2015, i.e. before the next AFC Champions League match of Al-Hilal which will be played on 21 April 2015.
The case was referred to a Panel of CAS arbitrators: Mr Sofoklis Pilavios, Greece (President), Mr João Nogueira Da Rocha, Portugal, and Judge Rauf Soulio, Australia, who conducted a hearing at the CAS Alternative Hearing Centre in Kuala Lumpur on 16 April 2015.
The CAS Panel found that Nassir Alshamrani had violated Article 57 of the AFC Disciplinary Code on two occasions: once for spitting, and once for headbutting. For the spitting offence, the CAS Panel declared that Mr Nassir Ali N. Alshamrani shall be suspended for six games, two of which are partially suspended for a probationary period of two years. In addition, for the head-butting offence, the CAS Panel confirmed that the player shall be suspended for two games.
Accordingly, Nassir Ali N. Alshamrani is suspended for a total of six matches, with two matches partially suspended for a probationary period of two years. The player has already served two AFC Champions League matches (25 Feburary 2015 and 4 March 2015).
In view of the urgency, the Panel has issued only its decision. The full arbitral award, with the grounds for the decision, will follow at a later date.