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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Sevilla win court ruling over cancelling ‘overweight’ player’s contract

Sevilla had just cause to cancel defender Joris Gnagnon’s contract for being ‘severely overweight’, a court has ruled.

In September 2021, the Spanish club terminated Gnagnon’s deal after repeated concerns regarding the player’s professionalism and physical condition.

Gnagnon, 27, signed a five-year contract with Sevilla in a €13.5million (now £11.6m, $14.7m) transfer from French side Rennes in the summer of 2018. After his contract was terminated in 2021, he asked world football’s governing body FIFA for compensation of more than €4.6m plus interest.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has now ruled in favour of Sevilla and ordered the player to pay the costs of the proceedings.

The justification outlined by the Spanish club to justify Gnagnon’s termination was “the player’s alleged overweight situation and his multiple delays to training sessions”.

In September 2022, the FIFA disputes panel ruled in Sevilla’s favour as it was documented that the club had notified the defender of their concerns that he was overweight following his return to training in September 2020.

Sevilla had set Gnagnon a weight target of less than 90kg (200lbs) but in July 2021, they had reported him to be overweight at ‘level II (pre-obesity)’ and alleged that he struggled to complete training sessions.


Joris Gnagnon’s contract was cancelled by Sevilla in September 2021 (Mateo Villalba/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)

Gnagnon took the case to CAS after FIFA judges ruled that his claim with them was inadmissible as the footballer had also started a civil case in Spain — a claim that was later withdrawn.

On Thursday, CAS ruled that Sevilla were justified in their dismissal of Gnagnon over his failure to maintain appropriate weight and fitness levels.

The verdict decided that the club’s expectations for the player’s weight loss were reasonable and noted their attempts to assist the player, while repeatedly warning the player of the consequences of him not meeting the club’s guidelines.

A Sevilla statement following the decision read: “The Court of Arbitration for Sport has ruled that the dismissal of the player Joris Gnagnon was justified given that he failed to maintain appropriate weight and fitness levels.

“The Court’s judgement is that the club acted legally and appropriately and that this was not a case of unfair dismissal.

“The ruling ends a long procedure that began after the player’s post-pandemic return to the club, in which he arrived severely overweight.

“This was not rectified despite four disciplinary proceedings that were brought against him. The player had the opportunity to comply with the prescriptions and advice of the medical and nutrition staff in order to regain his fitness, but failure to do so on his own initiative resulted in him being dismissed.”

The statement added: “The professionalism of the club was ruled to be exemplary and remains faultless, establishing and reinforcing an important legal precedent for future similar cases.”

Gnagnon made just 17 appearances for Sevilla and joined Saint-Etienne in 2021 after leaving Spain, but did not make a first-team appearance for the French club.

The central defender has been a free agent since the summer of 2022.

(Aitor Alcalde Colomer/Getty Images)



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