Editor's note: This report compiles all relevant news, events and
materials on International and European Sports Law based on the daily coverage
provided on our twitter feed @Sportslaw_asser. You
are invited to complete this survey via the comments section below, feel free
to add links to important cases, documents and articles we might have
The plight of
Hakeem al-Araibi – the 25-year-old refugee footballer who was arrested last
November in Bangkok upon his arrival from Australia on the basis of a red
notice issued by Interpol in contravention of its own policies which afford
protection to refugees and asylum-seekers – continued throughout the month of
January. Bahrain – the country Hakeem al-Araibi fled in 2014 due to a
(well-founded) fear of persecution stemming from his previous experience when
he was imprisoned and tortured as part of the crackdown on pro-democracy
athletes who had protested against the royal family during the Arab spring –
maintained a firm stance, demanding that Hakeem be extradited to serve a prison
sentence over a conviction for vandalism charges, which was allegedly based on
coerced confessions and ignored evidence.
sports governing bodies were critised from the very beginning for not using
enough leverage with the governments of Bahrain and Thailand to ensure that
Hakeem’s human rights are protected, they have gradually added their voice to
the intense campaign for Hakeem’s release led by civil society groups. FIFA,
for example, has sent a letter directly to the Prime Minister of Thailand, urging
the Thai authorities ‘to take the
necessary steps to ensure that Mr al-Araibi is allowed to return safely to
Australia at the earliest possible moment, in accordance with the relevant
international standards’. Yet many activists have found this action
insufficient and called for sporting sanctions to be imposed on the national
football associations of Bahrain and Thailand.
When it looked like
Hakeem will continue to be detained in Thailand at least until April this year,
the news broke that the Thai authorities agreed to release
Hakeem due to the fact that for now the Bahraini government had given up on the
idea of bringing Hakeem ‘home’ – a moment that
was praised as historic for the sport and human rights movement.
Russia avoids further sanctions from WADA despite
missing the deadline for handing over doping data from the Moscow laboratory
WADA has been back
in turmoil ever since the new year began as the Russian authorities failed to
provide it with access to crucial doping data from the former Moscow laboratory
within the required deadline
which expired on 31 December 2018, insisting that the equipment WADA intended to use
for the data extraction was not certified under Russian law. The Russian
Anti-Doping Agency thus failed to meet one of the two conditions under which
its three-year suspension was controversially
lifted in September 2018.
The missed deadline sparked outrage among many athletes and national
anti-doping organisations, who blamed WADA for not applying enough muscle
against the Russian authorities.
expiry of the respective deadline, it appeared that further sanctions could be
imposed on the Russian Anti-Doping Agency, but such an option was on the table
only until WADA finally managed to access the Moscow laboratory and retrieve the
doping data on 17
January 2019. Shortly thereafter, WADA President Sir Craig Reedie hailed the
progress as a major breakthrough for clean sport and members of the WADA
Executive Committee agreed that no further
sanctions were needed
despite the missed deadline. However, doubts remain as to whether the data have
not been manipulated. Before WADA delivers on its promise and builds strong
cases against the athletes who doped – to be handled by international sports
federations – it first needs to do its homework and verify whether the
retrieved data are indeed genuine.
British track cyclist Jessica Varnish not an employee
according to UK employment tribunal
On 16 January 2019,
an employment tribunal in Manchester rendered a judgment with wider implications for athletes and sports
governing bodies in the United Kingdom, ruling that the female track cyclist
Jessica Varnish was neither an employee nor a worker of the national governing
body British Cycling and the funding agency UK Sport. The 28-year-old multiple
medal winner from the world and European championships takes part in
professional sport as an independent contractor but sought to establish before
the tribunal that she was in fact an employee of the two organisations. This
would enable her to sue either organisation for unfair dismissal as she was
dropped from the British cycling squad for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de
Janeiro and her funding agreement was not renewed, allegedly in response to her
critical remarks about some of the previous coaching decisions.
eventually dismissed her challenge, concluding that ‘she was not personally performing work provided by the respondent –
rather she was personally performing a commitment to train in accordance with
the individual rider agreement in the hope of achieving success at
international competitions’. Despite the outcome of the dispute, Jessica
Varnish has insisted that her legal challenge contributed to a positive change
in the structure, policies and personnel of British Cycling and UK Sport, while
both organisations have communicated they had already taken action to
strengthen the duty of care and welfare provided to athletes.
Sports Law Related Decisions
Official Documents and Press Releases
In the news
International Sports Law Journal
Law in Sport
- 8 May –
Human Rights: Impacts, Policies and Responsibilities, T.M.C. Asser Institute, The Hague, Netherlands
May – Football Law
2019: Player Transfers, Agents, Politics and the Business of Football, London, UK
June – 14th
Sport&EU Annual Conference, Valleta, Malta
September – Understand
the Rules of the Game 2019: LawInSport Annual Conference, London, UK
October – Third Annual
International Sports Law Conference of the International Sports Law Journal, T.M.C. Asser Institute, The Hague, Netherlands
The Editors of the International Sports Law Journal
(ISLJ) invite you to submit abstracts for the third ISLJ Annual Conference on
International Sports Law, which will take place on 24 and 25 October 2019 at
the Asser Institute in The Hague. The ISLJ, published by Springer and Asser
Press, is the leading academic publication in the field of international sports
law. The conference is a unique occasion to discuss the main legal issues
affecting international sports with renowned academic experts and practitioners.
We are delighted to announce the following confirmed
- Beckie Scott (Chair of
the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Athlete Committee, Olympic Champion, former
member of the WADA Executive Committee and the International
Olympic Committee (IOC)),
- Ulrich Haas (Professor of Law at Univerzität Zürich, CAS arbitrator),
- Kimberly Morris (Head of FIFA Transfer Matching System (TMS) Integrity
We welcome abstracts from academics and practitioners
on any question related to international sports law. We also welcome panel
proposals (including a minimum of three presenters) on a specific issue. For
this year’s edition, we specifically invite submissions on the following themes:
- The role of athletes in the governance of international sports
- The evolution of sports arbitration, including the Court of Arbitration
- The role and functioning of the FIFA transfer system, including the FIFA
- The intersection between criminal law and international sports (in
particular issues of corruption, match-fixing, human trafficking, tax evasion)
- Protection of minor athletes
- Civil and criminal liability relating to injuries in sports
Please send your abstract of 300 words and CV no later
than 30 April 2019 to firstname.lastname@example.org. Selected speakers will be informed by 15 May.
The selected participants will be expected to submit a
draft paper by 1 September 2019. All papers presented at the conference are
eligible (subjected to peer-review) for publication in a special issue of the
ISLJ. To be considered for inclusion in the conference issue of the
journal, the final draft must be submitted for review by 15 December
2019. Submissions after this date will be considered for publication in
later editions of the Journal.
The Asser Institute will cover one night accommodation
for the speakers and will provide a limited amount of travel grants (max. 250€).
If you wish to be considered for a grant please indicate it in your
Editor's note: Daniela Heerdt is a PhD candidate at Tilburg
Law School in the Netherlands and works as Research Officer for the Centre for Sports and
Human Rights. Her PhD research deals with the
establishment of responsibility and accountability for adverse human rights
impacts of mega-sporting events, with a focus on FIFA World Cups and Olympic
Games. She published an article in the International Sports Law Journal that discusses to what extent the revised bidding and hosting
regulations by FIFA, the IOC and UEFA strengthen access to remedy for
mega-sporting events-related human rights violations.
26th, the Human Rights Advisory Board
of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) published its second report. This blog provides a summary and brief
evaluation of the report, by drawing a comparison to the previous report issued by the Human Rights Advisory
Board (hereinafter: the Board) based on the content of the recommendations and
FIFA’s efforts to implement the Board’s recommendations. The third part of this
blog briefly reflects on the broader implications of some of the new
recommendations issued for FIFA’s internal policies. The conclusion provides
five more general points of observation on the report. More...
Editor’s note: Sven Demeulemeester and Niels Verborgh
are sports lawyers at the Belgium law firm, Altius.
16 November 2018 judgment, the Court of Justice of the
European Free Trade Association States (the EFTA Court) delivered its eagerly
awaited ruling in the case involving Henrik Kristoffersen and the Norwegian Ski
On 17 October
2016, Kristoffersen had taken the NSF to the Oslo District Court over the
latter’s refusal to let the renowned alpine skier enter into a sponsorship with
Red Bull. At stake were the commercial markings on his helmet and headgear in
races organised under the NSF’s umbrella. The NSF refused this sponsorship because
it had already granted the advertising on helmet and headgear to its own main
sponsor, Telenor. Kristoffersen claimed before the Oslo District Court, that the
NSF should be ordered to permit him to enter into an individual marketing
contract with Red Bull. In the alternative, Kristoffersen claimed damages up to
a maximum of NOK 15 million. By a letter of 25
September 2017, the Oslo District Court referred several legal questions to the
EFTA Court in view of shedding light on the compatibility of the rules that the
NSF had invoked with EEA law.
If rules do not relate to the conduct of the
sport itself, but concern sponsorship rights and hence an economic activity,
these rules are subject to EEA law. The EFTA Court ruling is important in that
it sets out the framework for dealing with - ever more frequent - cases in
which an individual athlete’s endorsement deals conflict with the interest of
the national or international sports governing bodies (SGBs) that he or she
represents in international competitions.More...
Season 2 of #FootballLeaks is now underway
since more than a week and already a significant number of episodes (all the articles published can be found on the European Investigative Collaborations’ website) covering various aspect of the (lack of)
transnational regulation of football have been released (a short German documentary sums up pretty much the state of play). For
me, as a legal scholar, this new series of revelations is an exciting
opportunity to discuss in much more detail than usual various questions related
to the operation of the transnational private regulations of football imposed by
FIFA and UEFA (as we already did during the initial football leaks with our series of blogs on TPO in 2015/2016). Much of what
has been unveiled was known or suspected by many, but the scope and precision
of the documents published makes a difference. At last, the general public, as
well as academics, can have certainty about the nature of various shady practices
in the world of football. One key characteristic that explains the lack of
information usually available is that football, like many international sports,
is actually governed by private administrations (formally Swiss associations),
which are not subject to the similar obligations in terms of transparency than
public ones (e.g. access to document rules, systematic publication of decisions,
etc.). In other words, it’s a total black box! The football leaks are offering
a rare sneak peak into that box.
Based on what I have read so far
(this blog was written on Friday 9 November), there are three main aspects I
find worthy of discussion:
- The (lack of) enforcement of UEFA’s
Financial Fair Play (FFP) Regulations
- The European Super League project and
EU competition law
(lack of) separation of powers inside FIFA and UEFA More...
Editor's note: In the coming days we will introduce the supporters of our upcoming ISLJ Annual International Sports Law Conference 2018 (also known as #ISLJConf18). To do so, we have sent them a tailored questionnaire aimed at reflecting both their activities and their expectations for the conference. It is a good opportunity for us to thank them for their enthusiastic support and commitment to international sports law research. We are very happy to finish this series of interviews with Sven Demeulemeester from Altius, a Belgian law firm based in Brussels with a very fine (and academically-minded!) sports law team.
1. Can you explain to our readers the work of Altius in international sports law?
Across different sports’ sectors, Altius’ sports law practice advises and assists some of the world’s most high-profile sports governing bodies, clubs and athletes, at both the national and the international level. The team has 6 fully-dedicated sports lawyers and adopts a multi-disciplinary approach, which guarantees a broad range of legal expertise for handling specific cases or wider issues related to the sports industry. We are proud to be independent but, in cross-border matters, are able to tap into a worldwide network.
2. How is it to be an international sports lawyer? What are the advantages and challenges of the job?
Sports law goes beyond one specific field of law. The multiplicity of legal angles keeps the work interesting, even after years of practising, and ensures that a sports lawyer rarely has a dull moment. The main downside is that the sports industry is fairly conservative and sometimes ‘political’. While the law is one thing, what happens in practice is often another. Bringing about change is not always easy.
3. What are the burning issues in international sports law that you would like to see discussed at the conference?
The much-anticipated overhaul of the football transfer system is eagerly anticipated and is worth a thorough debate, also in terms of possible, viable alternatives. The impact of EU law - both internal market rules, competition law and fundamental rights – can hardly be underestimated. Also, dispute resolution mechanisms within the realm of sports - and an accessible, transparent, independent and impartial sports arbitration in particular - will remain a ‘hot’ topic in the sector for years to come. Furthermore, ethics and integrity issues should remain top of the agenda, as is being demonstrated by the current money-laundering and match-fixing allegations in Belgium. Finally, in a sector in which the use of data is rife, the newly-adopted GDPR’s impact remains somewhat ‘under the radar’.
4. Why did you decide to support the ISLJ Annual International Sports Law Conference?
The ISLJ Annual International Sports Law Conference is refreshing, both in terms of its topics and participants. The academic and content-driven approach is a welcome addition to other sports law conferences in which the networking aspect often predominates.
Editor's note: In the coming days we will introduce the supporters of our upcoming ISLJ Annual International Sports Law Conference 2018 (also known as #ISLJConf18). To do so, we have sent them a tailored questionnaire aimed at reflecting both their activities and their expectations for the conference. It is a good opportunity for us to thank them for their enthusiastic support and commitment to international sports law research. We are very proud to start this series of interviews with Women in Sports Law, an association launched in 2016 and which has already done so much to promote and advance the role of women in international sports law (many thanks to Despina Mavromati for kindly responding to our questions on behalf of WISLaw).
1. Can you explain to our readers what WISLaw is
Women In Sports Law (WISLaw, www.wislaw.co) is an international association based in Lausanne that unites more
than 300 women from 50 countries specializing in sports law. It is a
professional network that aims at increasing the visibility of women working in
the sector, through a detailed members’ directory and various small-scale talks
and events held in different countries around the world. These small-scale
events give the opportunity to include everyone in the discussion and enhance the
members’ network. Men from the sector and numerous arbitral institutions,
conference organizers and universities have come to actively support our
2. What are the challenges and opportunities for
women getting involved in international sports law?
Women used to be invisible in this sector. All-male
panels were typical at conferences and nobody seemed to notice this flagrant
lack of diversity. WISLaw created this much-needed platform to increase
visibility through the members’ directory and through a series of small-scale
events where all members, independent of their status or seniority, can attend
and be speakers.
Another difficulty is that European football (soccer)
is traditionally considered to be a “male-dominated” sport, despite the fact
that there are so many great female football teams around the world. The same misperception
applies to sports lawyers!
Last, there is a huge number of women lawyers
working as in-house counsel and as sports administrators. There is a glass
ceiling for many of those women, and the WISLaw annual evaluation of the
participation of women in those positions attempts to target their issues and
shed more light into this specific problem.
3. What are the burning issues in international
sports law that you would like to see discussed at the conference?
The ISLJ Annual Conference has already set up a
great lineup of topics combining academic and more practical discussions in
the most recent issues in international sports law.
4. Why did you decide to support the ISLJ Annual
International Sports Law Conference?
International Sports Law Centre has promoted and supported WISLaw since the
very beginning. The ISLJ Annual International Sports Law Conference was the
first big conference to officially include a WISLaw lunch talk in its program,
allowing thus the conference attendees to be part of a wider informal
discussion on a specific topical issue and raise their questions with respect
to WISLaw. Another important reason why WISLaw supports this conference is
because the conference organizers are making sincere efforts to have increased
diversity in the panels : this year’s ISLJ Annual International Sports Law
Conference is probably the first sports law conference to come close to a full gender
balance in its panels, with 40% of the speakers being women !
Editor’s note: Stefano
Bastianon is Associate Professor in EU Law and EU sports law at the University
of Bergamo and lawyer admitted to the Busto Arsizio bar. He is also member of
the IVth Division of the High Court of Sport Justice (Collegio di
Garanzia dello sport) at the National Olympic Committee.
1. On the
20th July 2018, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (hereinafter
referred to as “CAS”) issued its decision in the arbitration procedure between AC Milan
and UEFA. The subject matter of this arbitration procedure was
the appeal filed by AC Milan against the decision of the
Adjudicatory Chamber of the UEFA Financial Control Body
dated 19th June 2018 (hereinafter referred to as “the contested
decision”). As many likely know, the CAS has acknowledged that, although AC
Milan was in breach of the break-even requirement, the related exclusion of the
club from the UEFA Europe League was not proportionate. To date, it is the
first time the CAS clearly ruled that the sanction of exclusion from UEFA club
competitions for a breach of the break-even requirement was not proportionate.
For this reason the CAS award represents a good opportunity to reflect on the
proportionality test under Art. 101 TFEU and the relationship between the
landmark ruling of the European Court of Justice (hereinafter referred to as
“ECJ”) in the Meca Medina and Majcen affair and the very recent case-law of the CAS. More...
My favourite speed skater (Full
disclosure: I have a thing for speed skaters bothering the ISU), Claudia
Pechstein, is back in the news! And not from the place I expected. While
all my attention was absorbed by the Bundesverfassungsgericht in Karlsruhe (BVerfG
or German Constitutional Court), I should have looked to the European Court of
Human Rights in Strasbourg (ECtHR). The Pechstein and Mutu joint cases were pending
for a long time (since 2010) and I did not anticipate
that the ECtHR would render its decision before the BVerfG. The decision released last
week (only available in French at this stage) looked at first like a renewed
vindication of the CAS (similar to the Bundesgerichtshof (BGH) ruling
in the Pechstein case), and is being presented
like that by the CAS, but after careful reading of the judgment I believe this is rather
a pyrrhic victory for the status quo
at the CAS. As I will show, this ruling puts to rest an important debate
surrounding CAS arbitration since 20 years: CAS arbitration is (at least in its
much-used appeal format in disciplinary cases) forced arbitration. Furthermore,
stemming from this important acknowledgment is the recognition that CAS proceedings
must comply with Article 6 § 1 of the European Convention of Human
Rights (ECHR), in particular hearings must in principle be held in public and
decisions freely available to all. Finally, I will criticise the Court’s
finding that CAS complies with the requirements of independence and
impartiality imposed by Article 6 § 1 ECHR. I will not rehash the well-known facts of both cases, in order to
focus on the core findings of the decision. More...