GENEVA (AP)Facing a one-year transfer ban from FIFA, Marseille went to court Wednesday in a dispute with Watford over the 2020 signing of Senegal midfielder Pape Gueye.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport said Gueye – who faces a four-month playing ban by FIFA for breach of contract – was attending the start of a two-day hearing in Lausanne, Switzerland. No target date has been set for the verdict.
Marseille is second in the French league and on track to qualify for the Champions League next season, when the ban could take effect if the club loses the case.
Marseille also faces being blocked from registering new players for two consecutive transfer windows, and Gueye could be sidelined from all soccer for four months. The punishments were initially handed down by FIFA last year but were put on hold pending the appeal verdict.
Watford announced in April 2020 that it had made a pre-contract agreement with Gueye, a Paris-born France youth international then playing for Le Havre, on a five-year deal starting after that season.
Gueye, then 21, backed out of joining Watford and later signed with Marseille, which had finished runner-up in Ligue 1 to qualify for the following season’s Champions League.
Watford filed a case claiming breach of contract at FIFA’s disputes resolution chamber, which found in the club’s favor and imposed the bans on Marseille and Gueye. Marseille was reportedly ordered to pay Watford 2.5 million euros ($2.6 million).
Watford announced the ruling in January 2022 while Gueye was with Senegal at the African Cup of Nations in Cameroon. He helped Senegal win that tournament, and played in three of the country’s games at the World Cup in Qatar.
The CAS case combines three separate appeals, filed by each of the clubs and the player.
Gueye has since been loaned out by Marseille to play for Sevilla for the rest of the season, although was not included in the Spanish team’s squad list for the Europa League. Six-time champion Sevilla hosts Fenerbahce on Thursday in the round of 16.
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