Asser International Sports Law Blog

Our International Sports Law Diary
The Asser International Sports Law Centre is part of the T.M.C. Asser Instituut

[Call for papers] - International Sports Law Journal - Annual Conference - Asser Institute, The Hague - 24-25 October 2024

The Editors of the International Sports Law Journal (ISLJ) invite you to submit abstracts for the next edition of the ISLJ Conference on International Sports Law, which will take place on 24 and 25 October 2024 at the Asser Institute in The Hague. The ISLJ, published by Springer and TMC Asser Press, is the leading academic publication in the field of international sports law and the conference is a unique occasion to discuss the main legal issues affecting international sports and its governance with renowned academic experts.

We welcome abstracts from academics and practitioners on all issues related to international and transnational sports law and their impact on the governance of sport. We also welcome panel proposals (including a minimum of three presenters) on specific issues of interest to the Journal and its readers. For this year’s edition, we specifically invite submissions on the following themes and subthemes:


Reformism in transnational sports governance: Drivers and impacts

  • Legal and social drivers of reforms in transnational sports governance   
  • The role of strategic litigation (before the EU/ECtHR/National courts) as a driver of reform;
  • The role of public/fan pressure groups on clubs, competition organisers and governments as a driver of change.
  • The impact of internal reforms in transnational sports governance: Cosmetic or real change? (e.g. IOC Agenda 2020+5, FIFA governance reforms, CAS post-Pechstein changes, WADA sfter the Russian doping scandal)
  • Emerging alternatives to private sports governance – the UK’s Independent Football Regulator.


The organization and regulation of mega sporting events: Current and future challenges 

  • Mega-sporting events as legalized sites of digital surveillance 
  • Greening mega-sporting events (e.g. carbon neutral pledges, environmental footprints of events, the impact of multiple hosting sites)
  • Mega-sporting events and the protection of human rights and labour rights (e.g. Paris 2024 Social Charter, Euro 2024 human rights commitments)
  • The Olympic Games and athletes’ economic rights (remuneration/advertisement)
  • Reviews of the legal issues raised at Euro 2024 in Germany and the Paris 2024 Olympic Games
  • Previews of the legal issues likely to have an impact on the FIFA 2026 World Cup and the Milano-Cortina 2026 Winter Olympic Games


Please send your abstract of 300 words and CV no later than 15 July 2024 to a.duval@asser.nl. Selected speakers will be informed by 30 July.

The selected participants will be expected to submit a draft of their paper by 1 October 2024. Papers accepted and presented at the conference are eligible for publication in a special issue of the ISLJ, subject to peer-review. 

The Asser Institute will provide a limited number of travel & accommodation grants (max. 300€). If you wish to be considered for a grant, please explain why in your submission.


[Online Summer Programme] - International sports and human rights - 22 - 29 May 2024 - Last spots!

Join us for the first online version of our unique training programme on ‘Sport and human rights’ jointly organised by the Centre for Sport and Human Rights and the Asser Institute taking place on May 22-24 & May 27-29.

After the success of the first editions in 2022 and 2023 the programme returns, focusing on the link between the sport and human rights and zooming in on a number of topics, such as the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights and their application in sports. We will also adopt a human rights lens to sport governance and address freedom of speech, the rights of athletes, and access to remedy.

Tackling contemporary human rights challenges in sport

The programme brings together the latest in academic research with practical experiences from working in the field in an interactive package, fostering productive exchanges between the speakers and participants. Theoretical knowledge will be complemented by exposure to hands-on know-how.

Participants will have the opportunity to learn from experts from the Asser Institute, the Centre for Sport and Human Rights, and high-profile external speakers from both academia and practice.

What will you gain?

  • An extensive introduction to the emergence of the sport and human rights movement
  • A greater understanding of the normative framework for human rights standards in sport
  • A comprehensive overview of the latest developments in the interplay between gender and sports
  • Practical know-how to govern  human rights in the context of sporting organisations
  • Practical know-how to address  human rights risks in the context of day-to-day sports, including safeguarding
  • Practical know-how to access remedy in human rights disputes
  • The opportunity to engage in discussions and network with leading academics and professionals

Topics addressed in this summer programme include:

  • The emergence of the sport and human rights discussion/movement
  • The integration of human rights in the governance of sport
  • The protection of athletes’ rights
  • Access to remedy for sport-related human rights harms


Read the full programme.

Register HERE


In partnership with:

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[Call for Papers] Through Challenges and Disruptions: Evolution of the Lex Olympica - 20 September 2024 - Inland School of Business and Social Sciences

Editor's note: This is a call for papers for a workshop inviting sports lawyers and historians to reflect on how the lex olympica developed within the last 128 years through the prism of challenges and disruptions to the Olympic Games and the sharp and incremental changes they provoked.


Background

The lex olympica are legal rules the International Olympic Committee created to govern the Olympic Movement. Since the revival of the Olympic Games in 1896, the lex olympica, with the Olympic Charter taking its central place, has undergone tremendous changes. It has increased not only in volume but also in complexity and reach.

While some changes were designed to give further detail to the Olympic values, others seem to serve as responses to numerous disruptions and challenges that the Olympic Games experienced on their way. History shows that the Olympic Games faced boycotts, apartheid, armed conflicts, wars, propelled commercialisation, corruption, critique based on human rights and sustainability, pandemics, and many other obstacles.

One can see triggers for changes in specific incidents, broader societal changes, external political interests, long-term internal processes, etc., or further differentiate them according to relevant stakeholders impacting the change, such as IOC, NOCs, IFs, NFs, athletes, commercial partners, television, activist groups, NGOs, governments, host countries, etc. Regardless of their taxonomies, all these challenges met different reactions and affected the Olympic regulation in various ways. The IOC chose to distance the Olympic Games from some challenges and fully embrace others.


Keynote speakers

  • Jörg Krieger, Associate Professor, Department of Public Health and Sport Science, Aarhus University; co-leader of the Lillehammer Olympic and Paralympic Studies Center; Associate Professor II Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences.
  • Mark James,  Professor of Sports Law and Director of Research in the Manchester Law School at Manchester Metropolitan University, Editor-in-Chief of the International Sports Law Journal.


Deadline for abstract submission: 15 June 2024

Confirmation of participation: 30 June 2024

Publication: Selected contributions will be considered for a special issue at International Sports Law Journal


Contact information

Yuliya Chernykh (Associate Professor)

yuliya.chernykh@inn.no


Organizer

Lillehammer Olympic and Paralympic Studies Center (LOSC), Inland School of Business and Social Sciences and Legal development research group at INN University


[Advanced professional training] Responding to human rights abuse in sport: Safe, effective & appropriate investigation - 5-6 March

Register now for the second edition of our advanced professional training and learn how to respond in a safe, appropriate, and effective way to cases of human rights abuse in sport. 

In recent years, the world of sport has seen a rise in reports of cases of emotional, psychological, physical, and sexual abuse. Sport has often struggled to respond in a safe, effective and appropriate way to these cases.  This has, at best, led to missed opportunities to improve and strengthen prevention mechanisms.  At worst, it has caused retraumatisation and additional harm to those affected. 

This professional training uses real life challenges from past investigations to provide insight into how (not) to respond to reports and allegations of sport-related cases of abuse. It will provide you with tools and knowledge on how to deal with abuse cases while protecting those affected, complying with human rights, and upholding the integrity of sport.

Register HERE

Widespread abuse in sports
The last five years have seen a huge uptick in reports of cases of emotional psychological, physical and sexual abuse in sport. All over the world, across different sports, non-recent and recent cases have come to light: abuse allegations in Dutch gymnastics and US gymnastics, the abuse of female basketball players in Mali, systematic abuse of child athletes in Japan, the abuse of young boys within the English football, or children in other grass-roots sport in Germany, the sexual abuse ofwomen’s football national teams in Afghanistan and Haiti, or the recent sexual assault against a player of the Spanish women’s national football team, to mention but a few.

Ineffective response
Responses from the relevant entities like sport organisations and governments have often fallen short of both the expectations of those impacted, and internationally recognised human rights standards. Some organisations have failed to initiate any investigation whatsoever, while others have commissioned or led inadequate responses. This has resulted in strong  criticism from affected persons, their representatives, and other civil society organisations. However, until now sport has not benefited from  any real  clarity or consistency around good practice on how to respond in a safe, adequate and effective way to allegations of abuse. This course seeks to address that.

Register HERE

Good practice based on research and experience
The Centre for Sport and Human Rights (CSHR) has conducted a study, in conjunction with victims, survivors, and whistleblowers of abuse across continents and sporting disciplines, and based on the learnings developed and published a guidance on how to conduct safe, appropriate and effective investigations into abuse cases in sport.  In this professional training, the Asser Institute partners with CSHR to connect practical research-based guidelines with relevant legal norms and procedures to address human rights abuses in sport. 

What will you learn? 

  •   How (not) to respond to reports and allegations of sport-related cases of abuse 

  •   Knowledge and experience in responding to such cases in a way that protects the affected person from further harm and complies with human rights 

  •    The role that investigations play in access to remedy more broadly 

Download the full programme

Speakers:

  • Kat Craig (CSHR)
  • Dr Daniela Heerdt (Asser Institute)
  • Joanna Maranhão (4x Olympians and Survivor Network Coordinator)
  • Loïc Alves (Senior Legal Counsel at FIFPRO)
  • Peter Nicholson (Head of Investigations and Intelligence Athletics Integrity Unit and Ethics Officer ICC)

Register HERE

[Online Event] The aftermath of the Women's World Cup final: FIFA's and UEFA's responsibility in the Jenni Hermoso case

Join us on 14 December at 12:00 CET for an online discussion on FIFA and UEFA’s responsibility in responding to the incident that overshadowed Spains’ victory of the Women's World Cup, when Spanish national team player Jennifer Hermoso experienced a violation of her bodily integrity and physical autonomy due to a forced kiss given to her by Luis Rubiales, then the Spanish FA's president. 


During the 2023/2024 academic year, the Asser International Sports Law Centre dedicates special attention to the intersection between transnational sports law and governance and gender. This online discussion is the second in a series of (online and offline) events, which explore the way in which international sports governing bodies define the gender divide in international sports, police gender-based abuses, and secure gender-specific rights to athletes. You can watch the recording of our first virtual discussion on the Semenya judgment of the ECtHR on our Youtube Channel.  


Just minutes after the Spanish women's national team had won the FIFA Women's World Cup, Rubiales congratulated the players on the podium and grabbed Hermoso's head and kissed her on the lips. This act not only shocked the players and the audience but also caused immediate international uproar and calls for resignation. Rubiales first defended his act, claiming that Hermoso had agreed to it. However, her statements right after it happened, as well as her official statement published just a few days after the event forcefully denied the consensual nature of the kiss. Hermoso felt “vulnerable and a victim of aggression, an impulsive act, sexist, out of place and without any type of consent". Three months later, Rubiales has been suspended by FIFA for three years, resigned as president of the Spanish FA, and is facing criminal prosecution for the crimes of sexual assault and coercion in Spanish national courts. 


As extreme as this case sounds, it is not. In fact, it is a reflection of structural issues that exist in the world of women's football and women's sport more generally. Furthermore, this incident raises the question of the rights of the players subjected to such behaviour and the responsibility of sports governing bodies, and FIFA and UEFA in particular, insanctioning those who are engaging in such actions. How should SGBs respond to such incidents? What type of rules and procedures should they have in place? What are the measures that should be introduced to prevent similar actions in the future? What is the role of states (the Spanish state in the present instance) in investigating and prosecuting these cases?  


We look forward to discussing these issues (and many others) with our three speakers, who have followed the case closely: 

  • Kat Craig, human rights lawyer, founder and CEO of Athlead, Senior Adviser to the Centre for Sport and Human Rights; 

  • Alexandra Gómez Bruinewoud, is a Senior Legal Counsel at FIFPRO and a judge at the FIFA Dispute Resolution Chamber; 

  • Borja Garcia is Reader in Sport Policy and Governance at School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences in Loughborough University


The online discussion will be introduced and moderated by Dr Antoine Duval and Dr Daniela Heerdt, and will include short presentations by the speakers and a Q&A with the audience. 


This is a free event, you can register for it HERE

[Conference] International Sports Law Journal Annual Conference - Asser Institute - 26-27 October

On 26 and 27 October 2023, the Asser Institute in The Hague will host the 2023 edition of the International Sports Law Journal (ISLJ) Conference. The ISLJ is the leading academic journal in transnational sports law and governance and is proud to provide a platform for transnational scholarly exchanges on the state of the field. The conference will address a number of complex issues and disputes at the top of the transnational sports law agenda. In particular, we will zoom in on three main topics:

 

How football governance is (re)shaped by EU law

Since the Bosman ruling of the European Court of Justice (CJEU) in 1995, it has been obvious to football fans around the world that the European Union (EU) has a considerable influence on the governance and regulation of professional football. This year, 2023, provides us a striking reminder of this fact with (at least) two fundamental judgments of the Grand Chamber of the CJEU expected in the Superleague case and the UEFA’s home-grown players rule. Additionally, two further cases, which are challenging FIFA’s transfer system and its agent regulations, remain pending before the Luxembourg court. We will be looking closely at this relationship between EU law and the governance football through two panels (featuring senior and junior researchers) and a keynote lecture delivered by one of the finest observers of this encounter: Prof. Stephen Weatherill (Oxford University).

 

Autonomy and neutrality in the transnational governance of sports 

The invasion of Ukraine by Russia has postponed (once again) the end of history and revived within the Olympic Movement fundamental debates dating back to the Cold War and South-African Apartheid. Can the Olympic Movement stay neutral in the face of a clear violation of international law by Russia and of war crimes being committed by its armed forces? What should the consequences be in terms of the participation of Russian athletes and teams in international sporting competitions? If they are allowed to participate, under what conditions should they be competing? All these questions are ultimately connected to the definition and practice of the autonomy and neutrality of sport vis-a-vis international law and politics and will be at the heart of the another set of presentations at the ISLJ conference and a digital bridge with the Symposium on Sport & Neutrality organised in Lillehammer by the Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences.

 

The transnational regulation of gender by sports governing bodies

Our third focus area for this year’s conference will be the regulation and governance of gender boundaries by SGBs. The recent and ground-breaking decision of the European Court of Human Rights in the Semenya case crystallises the contemporary importance of questions related to the division between genders in the context of international sports. Furthermore, the ongoing and heated debates on the participation of transgender athletes in female competitions are also highlighting the importance of the decisions taken by SGBs in this regard. We will be hosting a specific Panel tackling these issues and will be welcoming Prof. Silvia Camporesi (University of Vienna and King’s College London) for a keynote lecture connecting the legal debates with ethical and philosophical considerations.

 

More information and registration HERE

 

Download the full programme

 

Online participation available

Following the success of last year's webinar option, we are once again allowing online participation to the conference at an affordable price. Thus, we hope to internationalise and diversify our audience and to reach people who are not in a position to travel to The Hague.

We look forward to welcoming you in person in The Hague or digitally to this new iteration of the ISLJ conference.

[Advanced Professional Training] EU competition law and transnational sports governance - 24-25 October 2023

On 24 and 25 October, the Asser Institute will host an advanced professional training co-organised by Ben Van Rompuy and Antoine Duval focused on 'EU competition law and transnational sports governance'. The training is building on their experience acting as legal advisors for the complaint submitted to the European Commission (EC) by two Dutch speed-skaters, Mark Tuitert and Niels Kerstholt, against the International Skating Union (ISU), leading to the first negative decision rendered by the EC against an international sports governing body (SGB).  

 

The training will consist of: 

  • An in-depth introduction to the specific application of EU competition law to transnational sports governance
  • Specific sessions on the different (national, European and transnational) processes (both judicial and administrative) through which EU competition law claims can be raised against international SGBs
  • A concrete case study during which the group will be divided into teams representing different sides of a competition law claim involving an SGB
  • A round-table with  leading experts in EU competition law and sports for an interactive discussion on future developments in this area

 

[More information and registration HERE]

 

Why this professional training? 

Transnational sports governance is not neutral, its exercise comes with considerable economic effects and consequences, which can be controversial. In recent years we have witnessed an uptick of challenges on the basis of EU competition law against the governance decisions of international SGBs. In 2017, the European Commission for the first time adopted a decision finding a sporting rule (the ISU’s Eligibility Rules prohibiting skaters from participating in third-party events) in violation of EU competition law. Since then, we have seen a string of decisions by national competition authorities and high-profile private actions being launched against, for instance, UEFA and FIFA by the European Super League Company, football club Royal Antwerp F.C. or football agents. In short, EU competition law has become the main legal avenue through which regulations and decisions of international SGBs are being contested– both from outside the Olympic family and within. It is therefore crucial that sports stakeholders become proficient in the language of EU competition law, in understanding the specificities of its application to transnational sports governance, and in grasping the intricacies of the legal processes that can be used to do so. 

 

Is this training for you? 

This training is primarily aimed at professionals involved in the field of sports governance, such as legal counsels of SGBs, practicing lawyers active in the sports sector, public servants involved in the enforcement of competition law in the sporting context, and representatives of athletes, clubs and other sports stakeholders.  The advanced training will be both interactive, focusing on open exchanges between experts and participants, and participative, with the preparation of a case study in smaller groups.  

 

[More information and registration HERE]

 

Speakers include:

 

[More information and registration HERE]

 

Programme

Day 1 - Tuesday, 24 October

 

12:30 – 13:00 - Registration

13:00 – 13:30 - Welcome and introduction - Antoine Duval & Ben Van Rompuy

13:30 – 15:00 - How EU competition law applies to transnational sports governance: Key doctrines and cases  - Antoine Duval & Ben Van Rompuy

15:00 – 15:30 Coffee Break

15:30 – 16:30 - Bringing a competition law case against SGBs before the European Commission: Lessons from the ISU case  - Ben Van Rompuy & Antoine Duval

16:30 – 17:30 - Bringing a competition law case against SGBs in national courts: The German experience -  Mark E. Orth

17:30 – 18:00 - Bringing a competition law case against SGBs before the CAS: Opportunities and challenges -  Antoine Duval

19:00 - Dinner

 

Day 2 - Wednesday, 25 October

 

9:00 – 12:00 - Case study on FIFA’s Football Agent Regulations and EU competition law - Antoine Duval, Ben Van Rompuy, Mark E. Orth

12:00 – 13:00 Lunch

13:00 – 15:00 - Case study on FIFA’s Football Agent Regulations and EU competition law - Antoine Duval, Ben Van Rompuy, Mark E. Orth, An Vermeersch and Stephen Weatherill

15:00 – 15:30 - Coffee Break

15:30 – 17:00 - Closing discussion on the future of EU competition law and transnational sports governance - Antoine Duval, Ben Van Rompuy, Mark E. Orth, An Vermeersch, and Stephen Weatherill  

[Online Event] The ECtHR's  Semenya  ruling: A human rights game-changer for the transnational governance of sport? - 13 October 2023

During the 2023/2024 academic year, the Asser International Sports Law Centre will dedicate special attention to the intersection between transnational sports law and governance and gender. This online discussion is the first of a series of (online and offline) events which will explore the way in which international SGBs and the CAS define the gender divide in international sports, police gender-based abuses, and secure gender-specific rights to athletes.


Caster Semenya, a South-African runner and Olympic champion, was dominating her favorite distance, the 800m, for a number of years, when in 2018 the World Athletics (then known as IAAF) adopted a new set of regulations (colloquially known as the DSD Regulations), which imposed new conditions to the eligibility of athletes for certain female competitions, such as the 800m. Semenya, who has a condition known as differences in sex development (DSD), was forced to decide between subjecting to a specific medical treatment aimed at diminishing the level of testosterone in her body or stopping competing on her preferred distance. As she refused to undergo any medical treatment to regain eligibility, she decided to challenge the legality of World Athletics DSD Regulations before the CAS in Lausanne. While the CAS acknowledged that the Regulations were discriminatory and were disregarding the legal sex of Semenya in the name of a so-called sporting sex, the arbitrators also considered that this discrimination was justified and proportionate. Semenya’s challenge against the award was rejected by the Swiss Federal Tribunal (SFT) in August 2020. As a last resort, she decided to lodge an application with ECtHR against Switzerland.


On 11 July 2023, the ECtHR released its judgment in the much-awaited Caster Semenya v. Switzerland case. In short, the Strasbourg Court sided with Semenya and concluded that Switzerland failed to comply with its positive obligations stemming from the European Convention on Human Rights. The ruling is an important milestone in the interaction between the CAS and (European) human rights law. It will likely affect the place of human rights (and in particular the ECHR) at the CAS, the intensity of the supervision exercised by the SFT, as well as the justification of the regulatory decisions of the SGBs. We look forward to discussing these with our two speakers, who have followed closely the case and already blogged (here and here) about the judgment:


The online discussion will be introduced and moderated by Dr. Antoine Duval and Dr. Daniela Heerdt, and will include short presentations by the speakers and a Q&A with the audience.


Registration is available for free at: https://www.asser.nl/education-events/events/?id=4325

Summer Programme - Sports and Human Rights - 27-30 June - Join us!

Join us for our unique training programme on ‘Sport and human rights’ jointly organised by the Centre for Sport and Human Rights and the Asser Institute  and hosted by FIFPRO. After the success of the first edition in 2022 the programme returns, focusing on the link between the sport and human rights and zooming in on a number of challenges underlying this link, such as the human rights impacts of day-to-day sports, the normative framework and applicability of the UNGPs in the sporting context,  the rights of athletes, gender and sports, remedies for sport-related human rights harms, and more. 


If you wish to join, register HERE.


Tackling contemporary human rights challenges in sport
The programme brings together the latest in academic research with practical experiences from working in the field in an interactive package, fostering productive exchanges between the speakers and participants. Theoretical knowledge will be complemented by exposure to hands-on know-how and exercises.

Participants will have the opportunity to learn from experts from the Asser Institute, the Centre for Sport and Human Rights, and FIFPRO, as well as high-profile external speakers from both academia and practice. 

Latest version of the full 4-day programme

What will you gain?

  • An extensive introduction to the emergence of the sport and human rights movement

  • A greater understanding of the normative framework for human rights standards in sport

  • A comprehensive overview of the latest developments in the interplay between gender and sports

  • Practical know-how to govern  human rights in the context of sporting organisations

  • Practical know-how to address  human rights risks in the context of day-to-day sports, including safeguarding

  • Practical know-how to access remedy in human rights disputes

  • The opportunity to engage in discussions and network with leading academics and professionals 

Topics addressed in this summer programme include:

  • The emergence of the sport and human rights discussion/movement

  • The integration of human rights in the governance of sport

  • The protection of athletes’ rights

  • Gender and sports

  • Access to remedy for sport-related human rights harms


If you wish to join, register HERE.


Scholarships

The Centre for Sport and Human Rights is funding a scholarship for an outstanding master student, PhD candidate, or civil society representative from an underrepresented group, including those from the global South, to participate in the Asser Institute’s summer programme ‘Sport and Human Rights’. More information is available on their website.

Interested candidates should apply by 31 March 2023, 20:00 CET through the CSHR website.


New Event! Governing European football: What role for the European Union? - 16 December - Brussels

Join us for a round table co-organized by GLawNet and the Asser Institute at the Campus Brussels of the Maastricht University (Avenue de Tervueren 153, 1150 Brussels) just one day after the publication of the Opinion of Advocate General Rantos in the European Super League (ESL) case. The discussion between academics and stakeholders will focus on the role played by the EU, as well as the role it ought to play, in determining the way football is organised and governed.


In 2021, the announcement of the creation of a breakaway European Super League (ESL), as well as the drama of its early demise, stunned the world.  Since then, the company behind the ESL and UEFA (as well as FIFA) are locked into a legal battle that will soon come to an end at the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). Following the preliminary questions raised by a Spanish court, the CJEU will weigh in on whether UEFA and FIFA breached EU competition law with their attempts to thwart the emergence of the ESL. It will not be the first time that the governing bodies of football, both Swiss associations, face scrutiny before the EU courts - many will remember the 1995 Bosman ruling. However, this time around various stakeholders and observers are calling for the EU to not only referee this particular dispute, but to as well start playing a stronger governance role by regulating European football.


Programme:

15:00 – 15:05 Opening: Mariolina Eliantonio (Maastricht University)

15:05 – 16:30 - Roundtable: Governing European Football: What role for the European Union?
Moderator: Carlo Colombo (Maastricht University)

16:30 Reception


This is an In-Person event only and will take place at the Campus Brussels of the Maastricht University (Avenue de Tervueren 153, 1150 Brussels). If you wish to attend, please register HERE.


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