Editor’s note: Rhys Lenarduzzi is a final semester Bachelor
of Law (LL.B) and Bachelor of Philosophy (B.Phil.) student, at the University
of Notre Dame, Sydney, Australia. As a former professional athlete, then
international sports agent and consultant, Rhys is interested in international
sports law, policy and ethics. He is currently undertaking an internship at the
T.M.C. Asser Institute with a focus on Transnational Sports Law.
Aguero and Massey-Ellis
incident: An Opportunity for Change and Education?
In mid-October a clip went viral of Argentinian star Sergio Aguero putting
his hands on sideline referee, Sian Massey-Ellis. A heated debate ensued in
many circles, some claiming that Aguero’s conduct was commonplace, others
taking aim at the appropriateness of the action, around players touching official
and a male touching a female with an unsolicited
arm around the back, the squeeze and pull in.
Putting the normative arguments aside for a moment, the irony of the debate was
that all sides had a point. Football, almost exclusively, has grown a culture
of acceptance for touching officials despite the regulations. Male officials
who have let such conduct slide, have arguably let their female colleague down
in this instance.
Whilst a partial defence of Aguero might be that this kind of conduct
takes place regularly, the incident could serve as a learning experience. If
Massey-Ellis’ reaction was not enough, the backlash from some of the public
might provide Aguero and other players the lesson, that touching a woman in
this way is not acceptable.
Returning to football, the respect and protection of officials in sport,
the key here appears to be cracking down on touching officials entirely. This
is not a foreign concept and football need only look at the rugby codes. Under no circumstances does the regulations
or the culture permit that a player from the rugby codes touch a referee. It is
likely the case that the obvious extra level of respect for officials in these
sports derives from a firm culture of no touching, no crowding officials, communicating
with officials through the team captain only, with harsh sanctions if one does
The Football Association of England has decided no action was necessary,
raising questions of how seriously they take the safety of officials, and
gender issues. This is ultimately a global football issue though, so the confederations
or international bodies may need step in to ensure the protections that appear
at best fragile.
Rugby Trans issue
The World Rugby Transgender
guideline has been released and contains a
comprehensive unpacking of the science behind much of the regulatory framework.
Despite many experts applauding World Rugby on the guidelines and the extensive
project to reach them, the England Rugby Football Union is the first to defy the
World Rugby ruling and transgender
women will still be allowed to play women’s rugby at all non-international
levels of the game in England for the foreseeable future. This clash between national bodies and the
international body on an important issue is concerning and will undoubtedly be
one to keep an eye on.
CAS rejects the appeal of Munir El
Haddadi and the Fédération Royale Marocaine de Football (FRMF)
The refusal to authorise a footballer to change national federation is
in the headlines with the CAS dismissing
the appeal of the player and Moroccan federation, confirming the original determination of the FIFA
Players’ Status Committee.
This has been given considerable recent attention and seemingly worth
following, perhaps best summed up by FIFA Director of Football Regulatory, James
Kitching, where in a tweet he notes: “The new eligibility rules adopted by the
FIFA Congress on 18 September 2020 have passed their first test. We will be
publishing our commentary on the rules in the next fortnight. Watch this space.” More...