With the World Cup keeping many a buzz, the Asociación del Fútbol Argentino (AFA) (the Argentine National Soccer Association, which manages the Argentine National team), had their own match in hand against a U.S. promoter alleging breach of contract. The U.S. promoter sued AFA in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, for breach of an alleged agreement which the U.S. promoter claimed gave it the exclusive right to distribute Argentine televised soccer on a world-wide basis.
AFA turned to partner Juan Basombrio of Dorsey & Whitney LLP as counsel. Mr. Basombrio, with the assistance of Dorsey associate Karen Morao, argued that in order to give full effect to the foreign sovereign immunity of the Republic of Argentina (which also had been sued), the action needed to be dismissed as to AFA. On June 23, 2014, the District Court agreed with this analysis, and dismissed the lawsuit, relying on a similar 2013 ruling by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, TJGEM LLC v. Republic of Ghana et al., in which Mr. Basombrio also obtained dismissal of the lawsuit in favor of the Republic of Ghana and various Ghanaian defendants on that basis. Mr. Basombrio observes that these District Courts have correctly applied the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2008 decision in Republic of the Philippines v. Pimentel, which held that dismissal of the entire action must be ordered where there is a potential for injury to the interests of the immune foreign sovereign.