Editor’s note: Tomáš Grell comes from Slovakia and is currently an LL.M. student in Public International Law at Leiden University. He contributes also to the work of the ASSER International Sports Law Centre as a part-time intern.
On 2 December 2010, the FIFA Executive Committee elected Qatar as host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup ('World Cup'), thereby triggering a wave of controversies which underlined, for the most part, the country's modest size, lack of football history, local climate, disproportionate costs or corruption that accompanied the selection procedure. Furthermore, opponents of the decision to award the World Cup to the tiny oil-rich Gulf country also emphasized the country's negative human rights record.
More than six years later, on 3 January 2017, the Commercial Court of the Canton of Zurich ('Court') dismissed the lawsuit filed against FIFA jointly by the Dutch trade union FNV, the Bangladeshi Free Trade Union Congress, the Bangladesh Building and Wood Workers Federation and the Bangladeshi citizen Nadim Shariful Alam ('Plaintiffs'). The Plaintiffs requested the Court to find FIFA responsible for alleged human rights violations of migrant workers in connection with the World Cup in Qatar. Had the Plaintiffs' claims been upheld by the Court, such decision would have had far-reaching consequences on the fate of thousands of migrants, mostly from India, Nepal and Bangladesh, who are currently working on the construction of sporting facilities and other infrastructure associated with organization of the World Cup. More...
Editor's note: Conor
Talbot is a Solicitor at LK Shields Solicitors in Dublin and an
Associate Researcher at Trinity College Dublin. He can be contacted at
firstname.lastname@example.org, you can follow him on Twitter at @ConorTalbot and his research is available at
www.ssrn.com/author=1369709. This piece was first published on the humanrights.ie blog.
Sport is an integral part of the culture of almost
every nation and its ability to shape perceptions and influence public opinion
should not be underestimated. The United
Nations has highlighted the potential for using sport in reducing
discrimination and inequality, specifically by empowering girls and women. Research indicates that the benefits of sport include enhancing
health and well-being, fostering empowerment, facilitating social inclusion and
challenging gender norms.
In spite of the possible benefits, the successful
implementation of sport-related initiatives aimed at gender equity involves
many challenges and obstacles. Chief
amongst these is the way that existing social constructs of masculinity and
femininity — or socially accepted ways of expressing what it means to be a man
or woman in a particular socio-cultural context — play a key role in
determining access, levels of participation, and benefits from sport. This contribution explores recent
developments in the interaction between transgender and intersex rights and the
multi-billion dollar industry that the modern Olympic Games has become. Recent reports show that transgender people continue to suffer from the glacial pace of change in social attitudes
and, while there has been progress as part of a long and difficult journey to afford transgender people full legal
recognition through the courts, it seems clear that sport could play an increasingly
important role in helping change or better inform social attitudes.More...
Piotr is an intern at the ASSER International Sports Law Centre.
On 24 July the Court of Arbitration
for Sport (CAS) issued its decision in the proceedings brought by the Indian
athlete Ms. Dutee Chand against the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) and the
International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) in which she
challenged the validity of the IAAF Regulations Governing Eligibility of
Female with Hyperandrogenism to Compete in Women’s Competition (Regulations). The Regulations were
established in 2011 as a response to the controversies surrounding South
African athlete Caster Semenya (see e.g.
here, here, and here), and for the purpose of
safeguarding fairness in sport by prohibiting women with hyperandrogenism, i.e. those with excessive levels of
endogenous (naturally occurring) testosterone, from competing in women athletics
competitions. Owing to the subject-matter that the Regulations cover, the case
before the CAS generated complex legal, scientific and ethical questions. The
following case note thus aims at explaining how the Panel addressed the issues
raised by the Indian athlete. It follows a previous blog we published in December 2014 that
analysed the arguments raised in favour of Ms. Chand. More...
The 40 recommendations of the Olympic Agenda 2020 are out! First
thought: one should not underplay the 40 recommendations, they constitute (on
paper at least) a potential leap forward for the IOC. The media will focus on the hot stuff: the Olympic
channel, the pluri-localisation of the Games, or their dynamic format. More
importantly, and to some extent surprisingly to us, however, the IOC has also fully embraced
sustainability and good governance. Nonetheless, the long-term legacy of the
Olympic Agenda 2020 will hinge on the IOC’s determination to be true to these
fundamental commitments. Indeed, the devil is always in the implementation, and
the laudable intents of some recommendations will depend on future political choices
by Olympic bureaucrats.
For those interested in human rights and
democracy at (and around) the Olympics, two aspects are crucial: the IOC’s
confession that the autonomy of sport is intimately linked to the quality of
its governance standards and the central role the concept of sustainability is
to play in the bidding process and the host city contract. More...
Three weeks ago, I gave a talk for a group of visiting researchers
at Harvard Law School on the accountability of the IOC for human rights abuses
caused by hosting Olympic Games. On the day of that talk, Human Rights Watch announced
that the International Olympic Committee (“IOC”) would insert new language into
the Host City Contract presumably for the 2022 Olympic Games onwards. The new
language apparently requires the parties to the contract to:
“take all necessary measures to ensure that
development projects necessary for the organization of the Games comply with
local, regional, and national legislation, and international agreements and
protocols, applicable in the host country with regard to planning,
construction, protection of the environment, health, safety, and labour laws.”More...
The IOC has trumpeted it worldwide as a « historical
the United Nations has recognised the sacrosanct autonomy of sport. Indeed, the
Resolution A/69/L.5 (see the final draft) adopted by the General Assembly on 31 October states
that it “supports the independence and autonomy of sport as well as the
mission of the International Olympic Committee in leading the Olympic movement”.
This is a logical conclusion to a year that has brought the two organisations closer
than ever. In April, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon appointed former IOC President, Jacques Rogge, Special
Envoy for Youth Refugees and Sport. At
this occasion, the current IOC President, Thomas Bach, made an eloquent speech celebrating a “historic step forward to better
accomplish our common mission for humanity” and a memorandum
understanding was signed between the UN and the IOC. This is all
sweet and well, but is there something new under the sun?More...
On 6 October 2014, the
CAS upheld the appeal filed by the former General Secretary of the World Karate
Federation (WKF), George Yerolimpos, against the 6 February 2014 decision of
the WKF Appeal Tribunal. With the award, the CAS confirmed a six-months
membership suspension imposed upon the Appellant by the WKF Disciplinary
Tribunal. At a first glance, the
case at issue seems to be an ordinary challenge of a disciplinary sanction
imposed by a sports governing body. Nevertheless, this appeal lies at the heart
of a highly acrimonious political fight for the leadership of the WKF, featuring
two former ‘comrades’: Mr Yerolimpos and
Mr Espinos (current president of WKF). As the CAS puts it very lucidly, "this
is a story about a power struggle within an international sporting body", a story reminding the Saturn devouring his son myth.
This case, therefore, brings
the dirty laundry of sports politics to the fore. Interestingly enough, this
time the CAS does not hesitate to grapple with the political dimension of the case. More...
The Olympic Games are a universal moment of celebration of sporting excellence. But, attention is also quickly drawn
to their dark side, such as environmental issues, human rights
breaches and poor living conditions of people living near the Olympic sites. In
comparison, however, little commentary space is devoted to the views of
athletes, the people making the Olympics. This article
tries to remediate this, by focussing on Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter which prevents
athletes from freely expressing their (political) thoughts. More...