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

“The Odds of Match Fixing – Facts & Figures on the integrity risk of certain sports bets”. By Ben Van Rompuy

Media reports and interested stakeholders often suggest that certain types of sports bets would significantly increase the risks of match fixing occurring. These concerns also surface in policy discussions at both the national and European level. Frequently calls are made to prohibit the supply of “risky” sports bets as a means to preserve the integrity of sports competitions.

Questions about the appropriateness of imposing such limitations on the regulated sports betting, however, still linger. The lack of access to systematic empirical evidence on betting-related match fixing has so far limited the capacity of academic research to make a proper risk assessment of certain types of sports bets. 

The ASSER International Sports Law Centre has conducted the first-ever study that assesses the integrity risks of certain sports bets on the basis of quantitative empirical evidence. 

We uniquely obtained access to key statistics from Sportradar’s Fraud Detection System (FDS). A five-year dataset of football matches worldwide, which the FDS identified as likely to have been targeted by match fixers, enabled us to observe patterns and correlations with certain types of sports bets. In addition, representative samples of football bets placed with sports betting operator Betfair were collected and analysed. 

The results presented in this report, which challenge several claims about the alleged risks generated by certain types of sports bets, hope to inform policy makers about the cost-effectiveness of imposing limits on the regulated sports betting offer.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...

In blood we trust? The Kreuziger Biological Passport Case. By Thalia Diathesopoulou

Over the last twenty years, professional cycling has developed the reputation of one of the “most drug soaked sports in the world”.[1] This should not come as a surprise. The sport’s integrity has plummeted down due to an unprecedented succession of doping scandals. La crème de la crème of professional cyclists has been involved in doping incidents including Tyler Hamilton, Floyd Landis, Alejandro Valverde and Lance Armstrong. The once prestigious Tour de France has been stigmatized as a race of “pharmacological feat, not a physical one”.[2]

In view of these overwhelming shadows, in 2008, the International Cycling Union (UCI), in cooperation with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) took a leap in the fight against doping. It became the first International Sports Federation to implement a radical new anti-doping program known as the Athlete Biological Passport (ABP).[3] More...

A Question of (dis)Proportion: The CAS Award in the Luis Suarez Biting Saga

The summer saga surrounding Luis Suarez’s vampire instincts is long forgotten, even though it might still play a role in his surprisingly muted football debut in FC Barcelona’s magic triangle. However, the full text of the CAS award in the Suarez case has recently be made available on CAS’s website and we want to grasp this opportunity to offer a close reading of its holdings. In this regard, one has to keep in mind that “the object of the appeal is not to request the complete annulment of the sanction imposed on the Player” (par.33). Instead, Suarez and Barcelona were seeking to reduce the sanction imposed by FIFA. In their eyes, the four-month ban handed out by FIFA extending to all football-related activities and to the access to football stadiums was excessive and disproportionate. Accordingly, the case offered a great opportunity for CAS to discuss and analyse the proportionality of disciplinary sanctions based on the FIFA Disciplinary Code (FIFA DC).  More...

The International Sports Law Digest – Issue II – July-December 2014

I. Literature

1. Antitrust/Competition Law and Sport

G Basnier, ‘Sports and competition law: the case of the salary cap in New Zealand rugby union’, (2014) 14 The International Sports Law Journal 3-4, p.155

R Craven, ‘Football and State aid: too important to fail?’ (2014) 14 The International Sports Law Journal 3-4, p.205

R Craven, ‘State Aid and Sports Stadiums: EU Sports Policy or Deference to Professional Football (2014) 35 European Competition Law Review Issue 9, 453

2. Intellectual Property Rights in Sports law / Betting rights/ Spectators’ rights/ Sponsorship Agreements


W T Champion and K DWillis, Intellectual property law in the sports and entertainment industries (Santa Barbara, California; Denver, Colorado; Oxford, England: Praeger 2014)

J-M Marmayou and F Rizzo, Les contrats de sponsoring sportif (Lextenso éditions 2014) 


Time to Cure FIFA’s Chronic Bad Governance Disease

 After Tuesday’s dismissal of Michael Garcia’s complaint against the now infamous Eckert statement synthetizing (misleadingly in his eyes) his Report on the bidding process for the World Cup 2018 and 2022, Garcia finally decided to resign from his position as FIFA Ethics Committee member. On his way out, he noted: “No independent governance committee, investigator, or arbitration panel can change the culture of an organization”. It took Garcia a while to understand this, although others faced similar disappointments before. One needs only to remember the forgotten reform proposals of the Independent Governance Committee led by Prof. Dr. Mark Pieth. More...

The CAS Ad Hoc Division in 2014: Business As Usual? - Part. 2: The Selection Drama

In a first blog last month we discussed the problem of the scope of jurisdiction of the Ad Hoc Division of the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The key issue was whether an athlete could get his case heard in front of the CAS Ad Hoc Division or not. In this second part, we will also focus on whether an athlete can access a forum, but a different kind of forum: the Olympic Games as such. This is a dramatic moment in an athlete’s life, one that will decide the future path of an entire career and most likely a lifetime of opportunities. Thus, it is a decision that should not be taken lightly, nor in disregard of the athletes’ due process rights. In the past, several (non-)selection cases were referred to the Ad Hoc Divisions at the Olympic Games, and this was again the case in 2014, providing us with the opportunity for the present review.

Three out of four cases dealt with by the CAS Ad Hoc Division in Sochi involved an athlete contesting her eviction from the Games. Each case is specific in its factual and legal assessment and deserves an individual review. More...

Should the CAS ‘let Dutee run’? Gender policies in Sport under legal scrutiny. By Thalia Diathesopoulou

The rise of Dutee Chand, India’s 100 and 200-meter champion in the under 18-category, was astonishing. Her achievements were more than promising: after only two years, she broke the 100m and 200m national junior records, competed in the 100m final at the World Youth Athletics Championships in Donetsk and collected two gold medals in the Asian Junior Championships in Chinese Taipei. But, in July 2014, this steady rise was abruptly halted. Following a request from the Athletics Federation of India (AFI), the Sports Authority of India (SAI) conducted blood tests on the Indian sprinters. Dutee was detected with female hyperandrogenism, i.e a condition where the female body produces high levels of testosterone. As a result, a few days before the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, the AFI declared Dutee ineligible to compete under the IAAF Regulations and prevented her from competing in future national and international events in the female category. Pursuant to the IAAF ‘Hyperandrogenism Policy’, the AFI would allow Dutee to return to competition only if she lowers her testosterone level beneath the male range by means of medical or surgical treatment.[1] On 25 September 2014, Dutee filed an appeal before the CAS, seeking to overturn the AFI’s decision and declare IAAF and IOC’s hyperandrogenism regulations null and void. She is defending her right to compete the way she actually is: a woman with high levels of testosterone. Interestingly enough, albeit a respondent, AFI supports her case.

IAAF and IOC rules set limits to female hyperandrogenism, which is deemed an unfair advantage that erodes female sports integrity. While these rules have been contested with regard to their scientific and ethical aspects, this is the first time that they will be debated in court. This appeal could have far-reaching ramifications for the sports world. It does not only seek to pave the way for a better ‘deal’ for female athletes with hyperandrogenism, who are coerced into hormonal treatment and even surgeries to ‘normalise’ themselves as women[2], but it rather brings the CAS, for the first time, before the thorny question:

How to strike a right balance between the core principle of ‘fair play’ and norms of non-discrimination, in cases where a determination of who qualifies as a ‘woman’ for the purposes of sport has to be made? More...

The O’Bannon Case: The end of the US college sport’s amateurism model? By Zygimantas Juska

On 8 August, U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken ruled in favour of former UCLA basketball player O'Bannon and 19 others, declaring that NCAA's longstanding refusal to compensate athletes for the use of their name, image and likenesses (NILs) violates US antitrust laws. In particular, the long-held amateurism justification promoted by the NCAA was deemed unconvincing.

On 14 November, the NCAA has appealed the judgment, claiming that federal judge erred in law by not applying a 1984 Supreme Court ruling. One week later, the NCAA received support from leading antitrust professors who are challenging the Judge Wilken’s reasoning in an amicus curiae. They are concerned that the judgment may jeopardize the proper regulation of college athletics. The professors argued that if Wilken’s judgment is upheld, it

would substantially expand the power of the federal courts to alter organizational rules that serve important social and academic interests…This approach expands the ‘less restrictive alternative prong’ of the antitrust rule of reason well beyond any appropriate boundaries and would install the judiciary as a regulatory agency for collegiate athletics”.   


Image Rights in Professional Basketball (Part II): Lessons from the American College Athletes cases. By Thalia Diathesopoulou

In the wake of the French Labour Union of Basketball (Syndicat National du Basket, SNB) image rights dispute with Euroleague and EA Games, we threw the “jump ball” to start a series on players’ image rights in international professional basketball. In our first blogpost, we discussed why image rights contracts in professional basketball became a fertile ground for disputes when it comes to the enforcement of these contracts by the Basketball Arbitral Tribunal (BAT). Indeed, we pointed out that clubs might take advantage of the BAT’s inconsistent jurisprudence to escape obligations deriving from image rights contracts.

In this second limb, we will open a second field of legal battles “around the rim”: the unauthorized use of players’ image rights by third parties. We will use as a point of reference the US College Athletes image rights cases before US Courts and we will thereby examine the legal nature of image rights and the precise circumstances in which such rights may be infringed. Then, coming back to where we started, we will discuss the French case through the lens of US case law on players’ image rights. 

Source: More...

Asser International Sports Law Blog | FIFA's Human Rights Agenda: Is the Game Beautiful Again? – By Tomáš Grell

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

FIFA's Human Rights Agenda: Is the Game Beautiful Again? – By Tomáš Grell

Editor’s note: Tomáš Grell holds an LL.M. in Public International Law from Leiden University. He contributes to the work of the ASSER International Sports Law Centre as a research intern.


Concerns about adverse human rights impacts related to FIFA's activities have intensified ever since its late 2010 decision to award the 2018 and 2022 World Cup to Russia and Qatar respectively. However, until recently, the world's governing body of football had done little to eliminate these concerns, thereby encouraging human rights advocates to exercise their critical eye on FIFA. 

In response to growing criticism, the Extraordinary FIFA Congress, held in February 2016, decided to include an explicit human rights commitment in the revised FIFA Statutes which came into force in April 2016. This commitment is encapsulated in Article 3 which reads as follows: ''FIFA is committed to respecting all internationally recognized human rights and shall strive to promote the protection of these rights''. At around the same time, Professor John Ruggie, the author of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights ('UN Guiding Principles') presented in his report 25 specific recommendations for FIFA on how to further embed respect for human rights across its global operations. While praising the decision to make a human rights commitment part of the organization's constituent document, Ruggie concluded that ''FIFA does not have yet adequate systems in place enabling it to know and show that it respects human rights in practice''.[1]

With the 2018 World Cup in Russia less than a year away, the time is ripe to look at whether Ruggie's statement about FIFA's inability to respect human rights still holds true today. This blog outlines the most salient human rights risks related to FIFA's activities and offers a general overview of what the world's governing body of football did over the past twelve months to mitigate these risks. Information about FIFA's human rights activities is collected primarily from its Activity Update on Human Rights published alongside FIFA's Human Rights Policy in June 2017.


The most salient human rights risks

FIFA faces human rights risks through its events, commercial subsidiaries and business partners, member associations or other parties. This section identifies sources of human rights risks that are most often associated with FIFA's activities.

Bidding and selection

Allegations of corruption have cast a shadow over FIFA's decision to organize the 2018 and 2022 World Cup in Russia and Qatar respectively.[2] If these allegations were proven to be true, it would be conceivable that financial incentives provided by the successful candidates helped them not only to secure the right to stage the tournament, but also to evade certain requirements, including those related to human rights. As Ruggie puts it, ''lack of financial integrity […] is a foundational source of human rights risks''.[3]

Moreover, in the past, countries bidding to host FIFA's tournaments have not been required to present a strategy addressing human rights risks that may arise in connection with the tournament’s organization. This allowed Qatar to win the bidding contest for the 2022 World Cup without explaining how it plans to protect migrant workers from the adverse impacts of the kafala system. Another example is Papua New Guinea that was awarded the 2016 U-20 Women's World Cup despite the country's high rate of sexual violence against women.


FIFA delegates the organization of the World Cup to the Local Organizing Committee ('LOC'), a separate legal entity created by the government and the national football association of the Host Country. The LOC is responsible, inter alia, for the delivery of World Cup-related infrastructure. In order to meet their deadlines, contractors hired by the LOC may ignore safety standards or force their employees to work overtime. Other reported practices include, for instance, appalling living and working conditions, non-payment of salaries, withholding identity documents or restrictions on the freedom of association.

In March 2017, Norwegian football magazine Josimar uncovered a series of human rights abuses faced by North Korean men working at Zenit Arena in Saint Petersburg. As recently as 14 June 2017, Human Rights Watch documented the mistreatment of construction workers at five other World Cup stadium construction sites in Russia. As the situation in Qatar has not been much better,[4] the Netherlands Trade Union Confederation filed in December 2016 a lawsuit with the Commercial Court of the Canton of Zürich, asking the court to find FIFA responsible for alleged human rights violations of migrant workers. The court dismissed the lawsuit on jurisdictional grounds in January 2017 (for a detailed analysis, see our blogs here and here).


Article 4 of the FIFA Statutes prohibits ''discrimination of any kind against a country, private person, or group of people on account of race, skin colour, ethnic, national or social origin, gender, disability, language, religion, political opinion or any other opinion, wealth, birth, or any other status, sexual orientation or any other reason''. In practice, FIFA must enforce this provision by taking further action to tackle issues such as anti-gay legislation in countries where its tournaments are staged, homophobic chants by fans or gender discrimination in the world of association football. 

Players' rights 

In January 2017, the international players' association FIFPro published a Global Employment Report on working conditions in men's professional football. Out of nearly 14,000 players interviewed, 41% reported having experienced delayed salary payments over the past two seasons. Players who lodge a formal complaint against their club put themselves at risk of being excluded from the squad or subjected to violence and harassment. FIFPro strongly condemned these practices and called upon FIFA to reform its Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players ('RSTP') to ''provide stronger protections of players against material breaches of contracts by clubs''.[5] Another issue that merits closer attention is human trafficking in football, especially as it often involves minors.[6]


In addition to the above, FIFA could better address human rights abuses that may occur (i) in the supply chains of its licensees; (ii) in the process of land acquisition for stadiums and event-related infrastructure; or (iii) in connection with event-related security measures.


Overview of the measures taken by FIFA

First and foremost, FIFA strengthened its internal capacity to deal with human rights risks. In 2016, FIFA established the Governance Committee which provides, via its Human Rights Working Group, strategic guidance to the FIFA Council on human rights-related matters. At the operational level, the overall responsibility for the implementation of FIFA's human rights commitment rests with the Secretary General who delegates the day-to-day management of human rights-related work to the Sustainability and Diversity Department. In September 2016, FIFA employed a Human Rights Manager to work within this department. Moreover, in March 2017, FIFA appointed an independent Human Rights Advisory Board with the view of accelerating its efforts to embed respect for human rights. Composed of experts from the United Nations, trade unions, civil society and business, the Advisory Board is scheduled to meet at least twice a year. It has already contributed to the development of FIFA's Human Rights Policy, a landmark document clarifying FIFA's approach to the implementation of its human rights commitment in accordance with the UN Guiding Principles.

The rest of this section looks at the most significant steps taken by FIFA in each of the areas outlined above.

Bidding and selection

The FIFA Council has recently agreed that, as of the 2026 World Cup, human rights requirements will feature in the bidding procedure. This is of paramount importance as it means that countries failing to present an effective human rights strategy should not be allowed to host the World Cup. In other words, the protection of human rights will constitute a material factor in the bid evaluation. Had such requirements existed at the time of the bidding procedure for the 2022 World Cup, Qatar would arguably never have been selected.

The bidding procedure for the 2026 World Cup, the first to feature 48 teams, is currently in an early stage, and therefore bidding requirements are not yet available. The Host Country of the 2026 World Cup will be announced in 2020 at the latest.


As part of the implementation of the Sustainability Strategy for the 2018 World Cup, FIFA and the Russia 2018 LOC have launched a Decent Work Monitoring System aimed at detecting non-compliance with labour standards at World Cup stadium construction sites. Under this system, two-day on-site inspections are conducted on a quarterly basis by the Klinsky Institute of Labour Protection and Working Conditions, at times accompanied by the Building and Wood Workers' International ('BWI') and the Russian Building Workers Union ('RBWU').[7] After each inspection, companies are provided with a report containing recommendations for further improvement of working conditions. This report is forwarded to FIFA and the Russia 2018 LOC, and, in cases where the health or safety of workers are seriously threatened, also to the competent Russian authorities. As of 14 June 2017, a total of 58 inspections have been carried out.[8]

In Qatar, the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy ('Supreme Committee'), an entity tasked with the delivery of World Cup-related infrastructure,[9] has developed a comprehensive set of Workers' Welfare Standards ('WWS'). Inspired by international labour standards, the WWS are mandatory for all contractors working on World Cup-related construction projects. To see whether contractors are adhering to these standards, the Supreme Committee has designed a four-tier monitoring system which comprises due diligence conducted by the Supreme Committee, the British company Impactt Ltd.,[10] the Qatari Ministry of Labour and contractors themselves. As of February 2017, the implementation of the WWS is further monitored via on-site inspections carried out jointly by the Supreme Committee and the BWI.[11]


Establishment of the Anti-Discrimination Monitoring System in May 2015 is regarded as the most significant step taken by FIFA to combat discrimination in the world of football. This system uses independent observers who are present at matches identified as involving heightened risks of discriminatory incidents. Based on the reports provided by these observers, FIFA may open disciplinary proceedings and eventually impose sanctions on member associations. For instance, several Latin American associations have been sanctioned for homophobic chants by spectators during the 2018 World Cup qualifying matches.

Internally, FIFA promotes gender equality by requiring each of the six confederations to reserve at least one seat in the FIFA Council for women.[12]

Players' rights

As far as the protection of players' rights is concerned, FIFA informs that it has introduced certain measures intended to preserve confidentiality of the data available in the Transfer Matching System.[13] Furthermore, on 1 March 2015, FIFA modified the RTSP so as to put in place 'fast-track' proceedings for disputes concerning overdue payable claims (for a detailed analysis, see our blogs here and here).[14]


In addition to contractors working on World Cup-related construction projects, other companies having business relationships with FIFA are now required to strengthen their human rights compliance. These include the suppliers of FIFA-licensed balls, artificial turf and technology used in games. Before a license agreement is entered into between FIFA and the supplier, FIFA must satisfy itself that both the supplier and its manufacturer are in compliance with the World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry ('WFSGI') Code of Conduct, whose purpose is ''to guide WFSGI members in the standards and practices expected in the workplaces that they operate or contract from''.[15] Should FIFA-licensees cease to comply with the standards laid down in the WFSGI Code of Conduct, FIFA may decide to withdraw its license.


Concluding Remarks

The aforementioned report on human rights violations of World Cup-related construction workers in Russia, published by Human Rights Watch in June 2017, came as a major setback to the otherwise encouraging measures taken by FIFA in respect of human rights compliance. This and similar reports demonstrate that FIFA's human rights activities have not yet produced their desired effect. To increase the efficiency of its human rights activities in the future, FIFA should probably engage in a tougher discussion with the competent authorities of the Host Country. This is important because event-related human rights abuses often flow from inadequate domestic legislation and administrative practices of the Host Country.[16] Examples from the past show that FIFA is able to exert pressure on the future Host Country to modify its domestic legislation when it is in the interest of FIFA's sponsors.[17] At the risk of stating the obvious, it is hard to understand why FIFA's sponsors should be prioritized over thousands of people facing human rights abuses in connection with the organization of the World Cup. Thus, a lot will depend on FIFA's amendment of the bidding requirements for the 2026 World Cup. Though it may sound optimistic and far-fetched, if FIFA were to award the World Cup taking into account human rights compliance of the potential Host Countries, it could become a strong force in spreading the human rights gospel across the globe.

[1]    John G. Ruggie, 'For the Game. For the World. FIFA and Human Rights' (April 2016) p. 19.

[2]    Jonathan Calvert and Heidi Blake, 'Plot to Buy the World Cup' (The Sunday Times, 1 June 2014). See also David Conn, 'France Investigates Votes for 2018 and 2022 World Cups and Questions Blatter' (The Guardian, 27 April 2017).

[3]    See Ruggie's report (n 1) p. 21.

[4]    Amnesty International, 'The Ugly Side of the Beautiful Game: Exploitation of Migrant Workers on a Qatar 2022 World Cup Site' (30 March 2016).

[5]    FIFPro, '2016 FIFPro Global Employment Report: Working Conditions in Professional Football' (January 2017) p. 30.

[6]    See Ruggie's report (n 1) p. 25.

[7]    In August 2016, the BWI and the RBWU signed a memorandum of understanding with FIFA and the 2018 World Cup LOC.

[8]    FIFA, 'Statement on Human Rights Watch Report on Russia' (14 June 2017).

[9]    The Supreme Committee works closely with the Qatar 2022 LOC.

[10]   In April 2017, Impactt Ltd. published its first report.

[11]   The Supreme Committee and the BWI signed a memorandum of understanding in November 2016.

[12]   FIFA Statutes, Article 33(5). See also FIFA, '2016 Reform Committee Report' (2 December 2015) p. 9.

[13]   RSTP, Definitions.

[14]   RSTP, Article 12bis.

[15]   WFSGI Code of Conduct, Introduction.

[16]   It should be noted that, in December 2016, the Qatari government introduced certain reforms to its labour laws. However, Amnesty International asserted that these reforms ''barely scratch the surface of labour exploitation''.

[17]   One such example is the well-known 'Budweiser Law' – a law enacted by Brazil in the run-up to the 2014 World Cup allowing beer sales at match venues despite the fact that the sale of alcohol had been prohibited in Brazil's stadiums for almost ten years.

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