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

New Transnational Sports Law Articles Released on SSRN - Antoine Duval

I have just released on SSRN four of my most recent articles on Lex Sportiva/Transnational Sports Law. The articles are available open access in their final draft forms, the final published version might differ slightly depending on the feedback of the editors. If you wish to cite those articles I (obviously) recommend using the published version.

I hope they will trigger your attention and I look forward to any feedback you may have!


Abstract: This chapter focuses on the emergence of a transnational sports law, also known as lex sportiva, ruling international sports. In the transnational law literature, the lex sportiva is often referred to as a key example or case study, but rarely studied in practice. Yet, it constitutes an important playground for transnational legal research and practice, and this chapter aims to show why. The focus of the chapter will first be on the rules of the lex sportiva. Law, even in its transnational form, is still very much connected to written rules against which a specific behaviour or action is measured as legal or illegal. As will be shown, this is also true of the lex sportiva, which is structured around an ensemble of rules produced through a variety of law-making procedures located within different institutions. The second section of this chapter will aim to look beyond the lex sportiva in books to narrate the lex sportiva in action. It asks, what are the institutional mechanisms used to concretize the lex sportiva in a particular context? The aim will be to go beyond the rules in order to identify the processes and institutions making the lex sportiva in its daily practice. Finally, the enmeshment of the lex sportiva with state-based laws and institutions is highlighted. While the lex sportiva is often presented as an autonomous transnational legal construct detached from territorialized legal and political contexts, it is shown that in practice it operates in intimate connection with them. Hence, its transnational operation is much less characterized by full autonomy than assemblage.

Abstract: This chapter aims to show that the work of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (‘CAS’), which is often identified as the institutional centre of the lex sportiva, can be understood as that of a seamstress weaving a plurality of legal inputs into authoritative awards. In other words, the CAS panels are assembling legal material to produce (almost) final decisions that, alongside the administrative practices of sports governing bodies (‘SGBs’), govern international sports. It is argued that, instead of purity and autonomy, the CAS’ judicial practice is best characterised by assemblage and hybridity. This argument will be supported by an empirical study of the use of different legal materials, in particular pertaining to Swiss law, EU law and the European Convention on Human Rights (‘ECHR’), within the case law of the CAS. The chapter is a first attempt at looking at the hermeneutic practice of the CAS from the perspective of a transnational legal pluralism that goes beyond the identification of a plurality of autonomous orders to turn its sights towards the enmeshment and entanglement characterising contemporary legal practice.

Abstract: Has the time come for the Court of Arbitration for Sport to go public? This article argues that after the Pechstein decision of the European Court of Human Rights, CAS appeal arbitration must be understood as forced arbitration and therefore must fully comply with the due process guarantees enshrined in Article 6(1) ECHR. In particular, this entails a strong duty of transparency with regard to the hearings at the CAS and the publication of its awards. This duty is of particular importance since the rationale for supporting the validity of CAS arbitration, if not grounded in the consent of the parties, must be traced back to the public interest in providing for the equality before the (sports) law of international athletes. Thus, the legitimacy and existence of the CAS is linked to its public function, which ought to be matched with the procedural strings usually attached to judicial institutions. In short, if it is to avoid lengthy and costly challenges to its awards, going public is an urgent necessity for the CAS.

Abstract: In 1998 the FIFA welcomed the Palestinian Football Association as part of its members - allegedly, as an attempt by then FIFA President, the Brazilian João Havelange, to showcase football as an instrument of peace between Israeli and Palestinians. Ironically, almost 20 years after Palestine’s anointment into the FIFA family, instead of peace it is the conflict between Israeli and Palestinians that moved to FIFA. In recent years the Palestinian Football Association (PFA) and the Israeli Football Association (IFA) have been at loggerheads inside FIFA over the fate - I will refer to it as the transnational legality – of five (and then six) football clubs affiliated to the IFA which are physically located in the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). This chapter chronicles the legal intricacies of this conflict, which will serve as a backdrop to discuss arguments raised regarding the legality of business activities of corporations connected to the Israeli settlements. Indeed, as will be shown in the first part of this chapter, the discussion on the legality of economic activities in the OPT has recently taken a business and human rights turn involving systematic targeting of corporations by activists. Interestingly, we will see that this business and human rights turn also played a role in the conflict between the IFA and the PFA. This case study is therefore an opportunity to examine how the strategy of naming and shaming private corporations, and in our case not-for-profit associations, for their direct or indirect business involvement in the settlements has fared. It is also an occasion to critically assess the strength of the human rights ‘punch’ added to the lex sportiva, by the UNGPs.

Call for papers: Annual International Sports Law Conference of the International Sports Law Journal - 25 & 26 October - Asser Institute, The Hague

 Call for papers: Annual International Sports Law Conference of the International Sports Law Journal

Asser Institute, The Hague

25 and 26 October 2018

The editorial board of the International Sports Law Journal (ISLJ) is inviting you to submit abstracts for its second ISLJ Annual Conference on International Sports Law, which will take place on 25 and 26 October at the Asser Institute in The Hague. The ISLJ published by Springer in collaboration with Asser Press is the leading academic publication in the field of international sports law. Its readership includes academics and many practitioners active in the field. This call is open to researchers as well as practitioners. 

We are also delighted to announce that Prof. Franck Latty (Université Paris Nanterre), Prof. Margareta Baddeley (Université de Genève), and Silvia Schenk (member of FIFA’s Human Rights Advisory Board) have confirmed their participation as keynote speakers.

Abstracts could, for example, tackle questions linked to the following international sports law subjects:

  • The interaction between EU law and sport
  • Antitrust and sports regulation
  • International sports arbitration (CAS, BAT, etc.)
  • The functioning of the world anti-doping system (WADA, WADC, etc.)
  • The global governance of sports
  • The regulation of mega sporting events (Olympics, FIFA World Cup, etc.)
  • The transnational regulation of football (e.g. the operation of the FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players or the UEFA Financial Fair Play Regulations)
  • The global fight against corruption in sport  
  • Comparative sports law
  • Human rights in sport 

Please send your abstract (no more than 300 words) and CV no later than 30 April 2018 to Selected speakers will be informed by 15 May.

The selected participants will be expected to submit a draft paper by 1 September 2018. All papers presented at the conference are eligible for publication in a special edition of the ISLJ.  To be considered for inclusion in the conference edition of the journal, the final draft must be submitted for review by 15 December 2018.  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. 300€). If you wish to be considered for a grant please justify your request in your submission. 

Nudging, not crushing, private orders - Private Ordering in Sports and the Role of States - By Branislav Hock

Editor's note: Branislav Hock (@bran_hock)  is PhD Researcher at the Tilburg Law and Economics Center at Tilburg University. His areas of interests are transnational regulation of corruption, public procurement, extraterritoriality, compliance, law and economics, and private ordering. Author can be contacted via email:

This blog post is based on a paper co-authored with Suren Gomtsian, Annemarie Balvert, and Oguz Kirman.

Game-changers that lead to financial success, political revolutions, or innovation, do not come “out of the blue”; they come from a logical sequence of events supported by well-functioning institutions. Many of these game changers originate from transnational private actors—such as business and sport associations—that produce positive spillover effects on the economy. In a recent paper forthcoming in the Yale Journal of International Law, using the example of FIFA, football’s world-governing body, with co-authors Suren Gomtsian, Annemarie Balvert, and Oguz Kirman, we show that the success of private associations in creating and maintaining private legal order depends on the ability to offer better institutions than their public alternatives do. While financial scandals and other global problems that relate to the functioning of these private member associations may call for public interventions, such interventions, in most cases, should aim to improve private orders rather than replace them. More...

International and European Sports Law – Monthly Report – February 2017. By Tomáš Grell

 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 overlooked. More...

Resolution of Disputes Arising From Football Contracts in Turkey. By N. Emre Bilginoglu

Editor’s note: N. Emre Bilginoglu[1] is a lawyer based in Istanbul. His book entitled “Arbitration on Football Contracts” was published in 2015.


With a total market value of approximately 911 million EUR, the Turkish Super League ranks as one of the prominent football leagues in Europe. Five of the eighteen teams that make up half of the total market value are based in Istanbul, a busy megalopolis that hosts a population of fifteen million inhabitants.[2] As might be expected, the elevated market value brings forth a myriad of disputes, mainly between the clubs and the players. However, other crucial actors such as coaches and agents are also involved in some of the disputes. These actors of the football industry are of all countries, coming from various countries with different legal systems.

One corollary of rapid globalisation is the development of transnational law, which is quite visible in the lex sportiva.[3] Like foreign investors, foreign actors of the sports industry look for some legal security before signing a contract. FIFA does protect these foreign actors in some way, providing players and coaches legal remedies for employment-related disputes of an international dimension. But what if the legal system of the FIFA member association does not provide a reasonable legal remedy for its national actors?[4] More...

Book Review: Despina Mavromati & Matthieu Reeb, The Code of the Court of Arbitration for Sport—Commentary, Cases, and Materials (Wolters Kluwer International 2015). By Professor Matthew Mitten

Editor’s note: Professor Mitten is the Director of the National Sports Law Institute and the LL.M. in Sports Law program for foreign lawyers at Marquette University Law School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He currently teaches courses in Amateur Sports Law, Professional Sports Law, Sports Sponsorship Legal and Business Issues Workshop, and Torts. Professor Mitten is a member of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), and has served on the ad hoc Division for the XXI Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.

This Book Review is published at 26 Marquette Sports Law Review 247 (2015).

This comprehensive treatise of more than 700 pages on the Code of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) (the Code) is an excellent resource that is useful to a wide audience, including attorneys representing parties before the CAS, CAS arbitrators, and sports law professors and scholars, as well as international arbitration counsel, arbitrators, and scholars.  It also should be of interest to national court judges and their law clerks because it facilitates their understanding of the CAS arbitration process for resolving Olympic and international sports disputes and demonstrates that the Code provides procedural fairness and substantive justice to the parties, thereby justifying judicial recognition and enforcement of its awards.[1]  Because the Code has been in existence for more than twenty years—since November 22, 1994—and has been revised four times, this book provides an important and much needed historical perspective and overview that identifies and explains well-established principles of CAS case law and consistent practices of CAS arbitrators and the CAS Court Office.  Both authors formerly served as Counsel to the CAS and now serve as Head of Research and Mediation at CAS and CAS Secretary General, respectively, giving them the collective expertise and experience that makes them eminently well-qualified to research and write this book.More...

Policing the (in)dependence of National Federations through the prism of the FIFA Statutes. By Tine Misic

…and everything under the sun is in tune,

but the sun is eclipsed by the moon…[1] 

The issue

Ruffling a few feathers, on 30 May 2015 the FIFA Executive Committee rather unsurprisingly, considering the previous warnings,[2] adopted a decision to suspend with immediate effect the Indonesian Football Federation (PSSI) until such time as PSSI is able to comply with its obligations under Articles 13 and 17 of the FIFA Statutes.[3] Stripping PSSI of its membership rights, the decision results in a prohibition of all Indonesian teams (national or club) from having any international sporting contact. In other words, the decision precludes all Indonesian teams from participating in any competition organised by either FIFA or the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). In addition, the suspension of rights also precludes all PSSI members and officials from benefits of any FIFA or AFC development programme, course or training during the term of suspension. This decision coincides with a very recent award by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in this ambit, which shall be discussed further below.[4]More...

The Pechstein ruling of the Oberlandesgericht München - Time for a new reform of CAS?

Editor's note (13 July 2015): We (Ben Van Rompuy and I) have just published on SSRN an article on the Pechstein ruling of the OLG. It is available at Feel free to download it and to share any feedback with us!

On 15 January 2015, the earth must have been shaking under the offices of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne when the Oberlandesgericht München announced its decision in the Pechstein case. If not entirely unpredictable, the decision went very far (further than the first instance) in eroding the legal foundations on which sports arbitration rests. It is improbable (though not impossible) that the highest German civil court, the Bundesgerichtshof (BGH), which will most likely be called to pronounce itself in the matter, will entirely dismiss the reasoning of the Oberlandesgericht. This blogpost is a first examination of the legal arguments used (Disclaimer: it is based only on the official press release, the full text of the ruling will be published in the coming months).More...

Prof. Weatherill's lecture on : Three Strategies for defending 'Sporting Autonomy'

On 10 April, the ASSER Sports Law Centre had the honour of welcoming Prof. Weatherill (Oxford University) for a thought-provoking lecture.

In his lecture, Prof. Weatherill outlined to what extent the rules of Sports Governing Bodies enjoy legal autonomy (the so-called lex sportiva) and to what extent this autonomy could be limited by other fields of law such as EU Law. The 45 minutes long lecture lays out three main strategies used in different contexts (National, European or International) by the lex sportiva to secure its autonomy. The first strategy, "The contractual solution", relies on arbitration to escape the purview of national and European law. The second strategy, is to have recourse to "The legislative solution", i.e. to use the medium of national legislations to impose lex sportiva's autonomy. The third and last strategy - "The interpretative or adjudicative solution"- relies on the use of interpretation in front of courts to secure an autonomous realm to the lex sportiva



Asser International Sports Law Blog | Fear and Loathing in Rio de Janeiro – Displacement and the Olympics by Ryan Gauthier (Thompson Rivers University)

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

Fear and Loathing in Rio de Janeiro – Displacement and the Olympics by Ryan Gauthier (Thompson Rivers University)

‎Editor's Note: Ryan is Assistant Professor at Thompson Rivers University, he defended his PhD at Erasmus University Rotterdam in December 2015. His dissertation examined human rights violations caused by international sporting events, and how international sporting organisations may be held accountable for these violations.


On Sunday, August 21, the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro will end. The spotlight will dim not only on the athletes who return to their home countries to ply their trade in relative obscurity, but also on the country of Brazil.[1] Once the Games have ended, life will go ‘back to normal’, although for many residents of Rio de Janeiro, what is ‘normal’ is anything but.

Watching the opening ceremonies from the favelas – Andrej Isakovic via Getty Images

“A New World” for Favela Residents

While the world has been preoccupied with Zika, the Brazilian corruption crisis, the cesspool that is Guanabara Bay, and the worrying state of some of the sporting venues, the displacement of persons is perhaps the largest problem not only facing the Games, but is the largest one caused (or at least exacerbated) by the Games themselves. Since Rio de Janeiro was selected to be the host of the Olympic Games in 2009, over 77,000 individuals (22,000 families) have been evicted from their homes. Most, if not all, of these individuals were evicted from their homes in the favelas, or slums, communities that began to appear in earnest in the 1970s as Brazil, and Rio de Janeiro in particular, began to urbanize. Currently, favelas are home to 1.4 million people, or about 22% of Rio’s population. It is very likely that not all of these evictions were related to the Games directly. City officials have stated that only Vila Autodromo was directly-affected by the Games, as this particular favela was turned into a parking lot for the Olympic Park and twenty homes for those who refused to leave (Reuters provides a good before/after comparison).

Vila Autodromo (Olympic Park under construction) - Genilson Araújo / Parceiro/O Globo

However, seemingly taking their cue from Rio 2016’s slogan, “Um mundo novo” (“A New World”), city officials have used the Olympic Games as an excuse to ‘re-imagine’ the city on a broader scale. In a 2012 interview, the mayor of Rio stated that “The Olympics pretext is awesome; I need to use it as an excuse for everything…Now all that I need to do, I will do for the Olympics. Some things could be really related to the Games, others have nothing to do with them.” As such, people from favelas that have nothing to do with the Games have been evicted from their homes, with the Games creating the pseudo-state of ‘emergency’ that has, in other cities that have hosted the Games, been used as an excuse to bypass normal procedures and do away with normal protections, in the mold of Naomi Klein’s “shock capitalism”.

The Rio government has claimed to offer financial packages and resettlement options for those who were displaced. These compensation packages were imperfect, as the government offered less than market value for the homes, and those who were relocated may have been relocated anywhere from several to dozens of kilometers away from their former residence, uprooting their businesses or employment, and their social and family lives. However, the relocation policy appears to be the velvet glove concealing the iron fist. For those who resisted relocation, the city cut off their water, and halted garbage pickup and postal service, while violent clashes between residents and police have also been reported. While not directly-related to evictions, but closely related to conditions in the favelas, there has been a reported spike in police killings of street children to “clean the streets” ahead of the Games. While new housing is being built in Rio, much of it is set to be high-end condos, not affordable housing.

International Standards Regarding Housing

The focus of this particular blog post is not the legality of the displacement, per se. That is an issue best addressed by Brazilian lawyers. However, there are international standards that Brazil should live up to. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognises a right to own property, and prohibits the arbitrary deprivation of property. Another international instrument of wide application, the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), recognises a right to an adequate standard of living. The ICESCR Committee, in its General Comments in 1991 and 1997, has interpreted this standard to include a right against forced evictions. If an eviction does occur, rights to information and participation by those who are affected arise. Finally, when an eviction does take place, a right to compensation and adequate resettlement attaches.

The case of Rio seems to suggest that forced evictions have likely occurred, based on the sheer scale of those who were evicted. Given the timeline of preparing for the Games, provisions on notice and information appear to have been curtailed or cancelled altogether, given that the city went to work on evicting persons immediately after Rio was awarded the right to host the Games in 2009. While some residents, particularly of Vila Autodromo, received compensation and alternative housing, in many cases there appears to be disagreement as to whether compensation has been offered at all with locals saying they have not received compensation, while city authorities deny evicting families without compensation. Actions such as police raids, and cutting off public services also suggest the evictions approach the threshold of ‘forced’ rather than voluntary/negotiated. Regardless of whether the letter of these international standards has been violated, the scope and pace of the evictions is of great concern.

IOC Stance Regarding Displacement

In particular, it should be distressing to readers to see the International Olympic Committee (IOC) seemingly stand by while these evictions occur in the name of the Games. And it is not as if the IOC has no clue that evictions take place due to the Games. For many Games, at least some displacement occurs to make way for infrastructure, while the 2008 Beijing Games saw an estimated 1.25 million people evicted due to Olympic-related projects.

The IOC has responded to the problems of displacement, pledging in 2009 to intervene with the Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (the OCOG – the actual body that is responsible for Games’ preparations) in situations where people who were displaced due to Olympic venue construction were ‘mistreated’. However, the IOC has not said anything publicly in regards to the evictions, and there is no public information regarding any IOC intervention.

Following the IOC’s Agenda 2020, and its recommendations on ‘social sustainability’, the IOC now requires cities bidding to host the Olympics to identify projects that may require displacement of existing communities, and to confirm that the procedures used to displace persons will conform to national and/or international standards. However, promises made by host cities are not always lived up to, as can be seen by Rio’s failed promises to treat 80% of the water flowing into Guanabara Bay, and treating only 21% on the eve of the Games. Rio is apparently also able to get away with such failed promises consequence-free, despite the risk of harm to athletes competing in and around the waters.

The Games Cannot Fix All Ills, But They Should Avoid Creating New Ones…

Ultimately, the largest problem with the Olympic Games is a lack of accountability. The IOC, an organisation based in Switzerland, holds the rights to the Games and selects the host city, but does not actually organise the Games. As such, the IOC often appears to act as though what happens ‘on the ground’ is neither its concern nor its responsibility. Those who actually organise the Games, particularly the OCOG and Host City (the National Olympic Committee of the host country also participates, but is not relevant here), often have limited accountability to those who are harmed by the Games. The OCOG disbands shortly after the Games are over, leaving the Host City holding the bag. The Host City’s accountability is entirely dependent on the political and legal structures of the country, and in countries like Russia (Sochi 2014, World Cup 2018), China (Beijing 2008, Beijing 2022), but even in more established democracies, Host City officials may have limited accountability.

Now is the time that commentators jump up-and-down to shout that hosting the Olympic Games in a single site would fix all of the problems. By placing the Games in Athens (no permanent Winter Games host is ever suggested), there wouldn’t be a need to host the Games in countries with questionable human rights records, or to watch as every single Olympic Games goes over-budget. However, rarely are suggestions made as to who will pay for the infrastructure, which will likely need to be periodically updated (it might be a bit hard for the Greek government to afford it at this point), cope with the criticism that the Games would be cemented as a Euro-centric enterprise, or the other problems that would arise with a permanent host. The Olympic Games are going to continue to be held in countries with imperfect human rights records (which would be pretty much all of them), and in countries with poor human rights records.

All of this is to say that the IOC needs to begin to actually enforce its ideals, and its own mandate of ensuring an Olympic Games that is socially sustainable. The IOC and the Olympic Games should not be the solution to human rights problems in a host country, for they cannot be. However, the IOC does have a minimum moral responsibility to ensure that the Olympic Games themselves are prepared for with the utmost consideration for human rights. And the IOC already has the powers to enforce this mandate through the Host City Contract, whether by withholding money from the Host City, or at the most extreme end, by removing the Games altogether. The IOC has also arguably set a precedent of withholding its support for a country to host future sporting events as a result of the Russian doping scandal, and it could do the same for Olympic host cities that engage in practices that violate human rights in the name of the Games. Of course, this is ultimately up to the IOC itself, barring pressure from states or sponsors.

The Olympic Games were never going to fix Brazil’s or Rio’s problems. Many of Rio’s problems, including Zika, ongoing sanitation issues, corruption, and political and economic instability, have little to no connection to the Games, and were certainly not caused by the Games. In that vein, it is naïve to believe that the Games could be anything more than a temporary papering-over of the deep divisions in Brazilian society (for more on this point, I suggest reading Dave Zirin’s book, Brazil’s Dance with the Devil). What the Olympic Games can do is serve as an example of how to carry out a socially-sustainable project in an emerging market economy. This applies not only to the displacement of persons, but also to the treatment of those who work on construction projects related to the Games (as opposed to the forced labour used in Beijing and Sochi), the environmental sustainability of the Games, and governmental policies and procedures that enhance accountability. While the IOC has made tentative steps to address these issues, as I have addressed before in this space, it is insufficient. The IOC cannot solve all the world’s ills, but it can at least ensure that the Games, carried out under its name, live up to its own standards.  The Rio Olympic Games could have served as an example of how to carry out a socially-sustainable project in an emerging market economy.


[1] Although the Paralympics will arrive on 7 September, and while London 2012 did an excellent job of promoting those Games it remains to be seen if Rio will follow suit.

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