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

International and European Sports Law – Monthly Report – April 2016. By Marine Montejo

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.  

The Headlines

This month saw the conflict between FIBA Europe and the Euroleague (more precisely its private club-supported organizing body, Euroleague Commercial Assets or ‘ECA’) becoming further entrenched. This dispute commenced with FIBA creating a rival Basketball Champions League, starting from the 2016-2017 season with the hope to reinstate their hold over the organization of European championships. The ECA, a private body that oversees the Euroleague and Eurocup, not only decided to maintain its competitions but also announced it would reduce them to a closed, franchise-based league following a joint-venture with IMG. In retaliation, FIBA Europe suspended fourteen federations of its competition (with the support of FIBA) due to their support for the Euroleague project.More...

The boundaries of the “premium sports rights” category and its competition law implications. By Marine Montejo

Editor’s note: Marine Montejo is a graduate from the College of Europe in Bruges and is currently an Intern at the ASSER International Sports Law Centre.

In its decisions regarding the joint selling of football media rights (UEFA, Bundesliga, FA Premier league), the European Commission insisted that premium media rights must be sold through a non-discriminatory and transparent tender procedure, in several packages and for a limited period of time in order to reduce foreclosure effects in the downstream market. These remedies ensure that broadcasters are able to compete for rights that carry high audiences and, for pay TV, a stable number of subscriptions. In line with these precedents, national competition authorities have tried to ensure compliance with remedy packages. The tipping point here appears to be the premium qualification of sport rights on the upstream market of commercialization of sport TV rights.

This begs the question: which sport TV rights must be considered premium? More...

Guest Blog - Mixed Martial Arts (MMA): Legal Issues by Laura Donnellan

Editor's note: Laura Donnellan is a lecturer at University of Limerick. You can find her latest publications here.


On Tuesday the 12th of April, João Carvalho passed away in the Beaumont Hospital after sustaining serious injuries from a mixed martial arts (MMA) event in Dublin on the previous Saturday. The fighter was knocked out in the third round of a welterweight fight against Charlie Ward. Aside from the tragic loss of life, the death of Carvalho raises a number of interesting legal issues. This opinion piece will discuss the possible civil and criminal liability that may result from the untimely death of the Portuguese fighter.

It is important to note at the outset that MMA has few rules and permits wrestling holds, punching, marital arts throws and kicking. MMA appears to have little regulation and a lack of universally accepted, standardised rules. There is no international federation or governing body that regulates MMA. It is largely self-regulated. MMA is not recognised under the sports and governing bodies listed by Sport Ireland, the statutory body established by the Sport Ireland Act 2015 which replaced the Irish Sports Council. MMA is considered a properly constituted sport so long as the rules and regulations are adhered to, there are appropriate safety procedures, the rules are enforced by independent referees, and it appropriately administered.

The Acting Minister for Sport, Michael Ring, has called for the regulation of MMA. Currently there are no minimum requirements when it comes to medical personnel; nor are there any particular requirements as to training of medical personnel. The promoter decides how many doctors and paramedics are to be stationed at events. In February 2014 Minister Ring wrote to 17 MMA promoters in Ireland requesting that they implement safety precautions in line with those used by other sports including boxing and rugby.

Despite this lack of regulation, this does not exempt MMA from legal liability as the discussion below demonstrates.More...

Guest Blog - The Role of Sport in the Recognition of Transgender and Intersex Rights by Conor Talbot

Editor's note: Conor Talbot is a Solicitor at LK Shields Solicitors in Dublin and an Associate Researcher at Trinity College Dublin. He can be contacted at, you can follow him on Twitter at @ConorTalbot and his research is available at This piece was first published on the blog.

Sport is an integral part of the culture of almost every nation and its ability to shape perceptions and influence public opinion should not be underestimated.  The United Nations has highlighted the potential for using sport in reducing discrimination and inequality, specifically by empowering girls and women.  Research indicates that the benefits of sport include enhancing health and well-being, fostering empowerment, facilitating social inclusion and challenging gender norms.

In spite of the possible benefits, the successful implementation of sport-related initiatives aimed at gender equity involves many challenges and obstacles.  Chief amongst these is the way that existing social constructs of masculinity and femininity — or socially accepted ways of expressing what it means to be a man or woman in a particular socio-cultural context — play a key role in determining access, levels of participation, and benefits from sport.  This contribution explores recent developments in the interaction between transgender and intersex rights and the multi-billion dollar industry that the modern Olympic Games has become.  Recent reports show that transgender people continue to suffer from the glacial pace of change in social attitudes and, while there has been progress as part of a long and difficult journey to afford transgender people full legal recognition through the courts, it seems clear that sport could play an increasingly important role in helping change or better inform social attitudes.More...

Unpacking Doyen’s TPO Deals: The Final Whistle

Footballleaks is now operating since nearly half a year and has already provided an incredible wealth of legal documents both on TPO (and in particular Doyen’s contractual arrangements) and on the operation of the transfer system in football (mainly transfer agreements, player contracts and agents contracts). This constant stream of information is extremely valuable for academic research to get a better grip on the functioning of the transfer market. It is also extremely relevant for the shaping of public debates and political decisions on the regulation of this market. As pointed out on the footballleaks website, it has triggered a series of press investigations in major European news outlets.

In this blog, I want to come to a closure on our reporting on Doyen’s TPO deals. In the past months, we have already dealt with the specific cases of FC Twente and Sporting Lisbon, reviewed Doyen’s TPO deals with Spanish clubs, as well as discussed the compatibility of the TPO ban with EU law. In the Sporting Lisbon case, Doyen has since earned an important legal victory in front of the CAS (the ensuing award was just published by Footballleaks). This victory should not be overstated, however, it was not unexpected due to the liberal understanding of the freedom of contract under Swiss law. As such it does not support the necessity of TPO as an investment practice and does not threaten the legality (especially under EU law) of FIFA’s ban.

In our previous blogs on Doyen’s TPO deals we decided to focus only on specific deals, Twente and Sporting Lisbon, or a specific country (Spain). However, nearly six months after the whole footballleaks project started, we can now provide a more comprehensive analysis of the TPO deals signed by Doyen. Though, it is still possible that other, yet unknown, deals would be revealed, I believe that few of Doyen’s TPO agreements are still hidden. Thanks to footballleaks, we now know how Doyen operates, we have a precise idea of its turnover, its return on investments and the pool of clubs with which it signed a TPO agreement. Moreover, we have a good understanding of the contractual structure used by Doyen in those deals. This blog will offer a brief synthesis and analysis of this data.More...

Unpacking Doyen’s TPO Deals: TPO and Spanish football, friends with(out) benefits?

Update: On 14 April footballleaks released a series of documents concerning Sporting de Gijón. Therefore, I have updated this blog on 19 April to take into account the new information provided.  

Doyen Sports’ TPO (or TPI) model has been touted as a “viable alternative source of finance much needed by the large majority of football clubs in Europe". These are the words of Doyen’s CEO, Nélio Lucas, during a debate on (the prohibition of) TPO held at the European Parliament in Brussels last January. During that same debate, La Liga’s president, Javier Tebas, contended that professional football clubs, as private undertakings, should have the right to obtain funding by private investors to, among other reasons, “pay off the club’s debts or to compete better”. Indeed, defendants of the TPO model continuously argue that third party investors, such as Doyen, only have the clubs’ best interests in mind, being the only ones capable and willing to prevent professional football clubs from going bankrupt. This claim constitutes an important argument for the defendants of the TPO model, such as La Liga and La Liga Portuguesa, who have jointly submitted a complaint in front of the European Commission against FIFA’s ban of the practice.[1]

The eruption of footballleaks provided the essential material necessary to test this claim. It allows us to better analyse and understand the functioning of third party investment and the consequences for clubs who use these services. The leaked contracts between Doyen and, for example, FC Twente, showed that the club’s short term financial boost came at the expense of its long-term financial stability. If a club is incapable of transferring players for at least the minimum price set in Doyen’s contracts, it will find itself in a financially more precarious situation than before signing the Economic Rights Participation Agreement (ERPA). TPO might have made FC Twente more competitive in the short run, in the long run it pushed the club (very) close to bankruptcy.

More than four months after its launch, footballleaks continues to publish documents from the football world, most notably Doyen’s ERPAs involving Spanish clubs.More...

International and European Sports Law – Monthly Report – March 2016. By Marine Montejo

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. 

Marine Montejo is a graduate from the College of Europe in Bruges and is currently an Intern at the ASSER International Sports Law Centre.

The Headlines

The Belgian Court of Appeal released its judgment this month regarding Doyen’s legal battle against the FIFA TPO ban. The Appeal Court confirmed the first instance decision and ruled out any provisional measures to block the ban’s implementation (for an in depth review, see our blog post). More importantly, the Court reaffirmed that Swiss based sport federations are liable in front of EU Members’ States courts when EU competition law is involved. That means the next important step for this legal battle is whether or not the European Commission is going to open a formal proceeding (Doyen already lodged a complaint) to assess the compatibility, and more importantly, the proportionality of the TPO ban with EU law. Only a preliminary ruling by the CJEU could hasten the decision if one of the European national courts, hearing a case brought by Doyen (France or Belgium), decided to refer a preliminary question.More...

Doyen’s Crusade Against FIFA’s TPO Ban: The Ruling of the Appeal Court of Brussels

Since last year, Doyen Sports, represented by Jean-Louis Dupont, embarked on a legal crusade against FIFA’s TPO ban. It has lodged a competition law complaint with the EU Commission and started court proceedings in France and Belgium. In a first decision on Doyen’s request for provisory measures, the Brussels Court of First Instance rejected the demands raised by Doyen and already refused to send a preliminary reference to the CJEU. Doyen, supported by the Belgium club Seraing, decided to appeal this decision to the Brussels Appeal Court, which rendered its final ruling on the question on 10 March 2016.[1] The decision (on file with us) is rather unspectacular and in line with the first instance judgment. This blog post will rehash the three interesting aspects of the case.

·      The jurisdiction of the Belgian courts

·      The admissibility of Doyen’s action

·      The conditions for awarding provisory measures More...

International and European Sports Law – Monthly Report – February 2016

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. 

The Headlines

The eagerly awaited FIFA Presidential elections of 26 February provided for a “new face” at the pinnacle of international football for the first time since 1998. One could argue whether Infantino is the man capable of bringing about the reform FIFA so desperately needs or whether he is simply a younger version of his predecessor Blatter. 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...

Asser International Sports Law Blog | Introducing the new legal challenges of E-Sports. By N. Emre Bilginoglu

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

Introducing the new legal challenges of E-Sports. By N. Emre Bilginoglu

Editor’s Note: Emre Bilginoglu[1] is an attorney in Istanbul and the co-founder of the Turkish E-Sports Players Association, a non-profit based in Istanbul that aims to provide assistance to professional gamers and to work on the relevant laws affecting them. 

The world is witnessing the rise of a new sport that is growing at an incredible speed: E-Sports. We are only starting to understand its legal implications and challenges.

In recent years, E-Sports has managed to attract thousands of fans to arenas to see a group of people play a video game. These people are literally professional gamers (cyber athletes)[2] who make money by competing in tournaments. Not all video games have tournaments in which professional players compete against each other.

The most played games in E-Sports competitions are League of Legends (LoL), Defense of the Ancients 2 (DotA 2) and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO). LoL and DotA are both Multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games, a genre of strategy video games in which the player controls a single character in one of two teams. The goal of the game is to destroy the opponent’s main structure. CS:GO is a first-person shooter (FPS) game, a genre of video games where the player engages combat through a first-person perspective. The main objective in CS:GO is to eliminate the opposing team or to terrorize or counter-terrorize, planting bombs or rescuing hostages. Other games that have (popular) E-Sports competitions include Starcraft II (real time strategy), Hearthstone (collectible card video game), Call of Duty (FPS) and FIFA (football).

The gaming requires cooperation between team players, a high level of concentration, rapid reactions and some seriously fast clicking. E-Sports is a groovy term to describe organized competitive computer gaming. The E-Sports industry is exponentially growing, amounting to values expressed in billions of dollars. According to Newzoo, a website dedicated to the collection of E-Sports data, there are some 250 million occasional viewers of E-Sports with Asia-Pacific accounting for half of the total amount. The growth of the industry is indubitably supported by online streaming media platforms. This article aims to explain what E-Sports is and to give the readers an insight on the key legal questions raised by it. 

Is E-Sports a Sport?

The introductory legal question regarding E-Sports is whether it is a sport. There are different definitions of “sport”. According to the Council of Europe, “sport” means all forms of physical activity which, through casual or organised participation, aim at expressing or improving physical fitness and mental well-being, forming social relationships or obtaining results in competition at all levels.

SportAccord a non-profit association which is composed of autonomous and independent international sports federations and other international organisations contributing to sport in various fields, also offers a definition of sport. According to this definition, sport:

1) includes an element of competition;

2) does not rely on any element of “luck” specifically integrated into the sport;

3) does not pose an undue risk to the health and safety of its athletes or participants;

4) is in no way harmful to any living creature;

5) and does not rely on equipment that is provided by a single supplier.

Sport categories designated by SportAccord are primarily: physical sports (e.g. basketball); mind sports (e.g. chess); motorized sports (e.g. motorcycle racing); coordination sports (e.g. snooker); and animal-supported sports (e.g. equestrianism).

SportAccord also states that activities with limited physical or athletic activity would be carefully considered. E-Sports indeed involves a limited physical activity. The professional gamer generally sits in front of a designated computer. However, at this point it is important to highlight the existence of multiplayer video games that involve a considerable amount of physical activity. Home video game consoles that detect movement were released in early 2000s, paving the way for true E-Sports cyber athletes in the near future. Until now however, games that require physical activity have not been played at a professional level.

Having said this, E-Sports does involve a clear element of competition, does not rely only on luck, does not pose an undue risk to the health and safety of its competitors and is not harmful to any living creature. At some point, it does rely on equipment that is provided by a single supplier, as the subject game that is played is in general produced by a single supplier. In other words, E-Sports clearly complies with the remaining criteria (2 to 5) suggested to be defined as a “sport”.

Even though there are a myriad of multiplayer games, one mostly categorizes E-Sports as a primarily mind and coordinated sport. It does not require lots of physical activities except for very fast finger movement. A similar sport is chess. It is challenging to oppose the argument of David Papineau, professor of philosophy of science at King’s College London, who, as regards chess, said that “(t)he activity is playing a game, therefore it is not a sport but a game”. However, chess is a strategy board game and at the same time it is an organized sport with an international governing body, namely FIDE.

Can E-Sports Be an Olympic Sport?
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is the supreme authority of the Olympic movement. The IOC decides which sports are included in the Olympic Games. Choices of the IOC always bring forth discussions and debates in the sports community. Some sports are discontinued and some are re-introduced. Wrestling was announced to be dropped from the 2020 Olympic Games in 2020, but was reinstated seven months after losing its place. Even though wrestling is one of the founding sports of the Olympics, the IOC could have removed it from the Olympic Games. The IOC recently reinstated baseball and softball, and added skateboarding -, karate, climbing and surfing- to the sports programme for the Olympic Games in Tokyo 2020. Therefore, it is possible to say that popularity is one of the crucial elements for a sport to be included to the Olympic Games. Chess, led by FIDE, is attempting to be an Olympic Sport. Although the attempt for Tokyo 2020 was not successful, things may change in the future.

In my opinion, E-Sports can very well be regarded as an Olympic sport in the near future. Whatever game that is played on a professional level, may be regarded as its discipline. The crucial setback is the perishability of games. Video games become “obsolete” with time. This is especially the case with sports games. Squads and the game play changes every season. That is one of the reasons why FIFA releases a new video game every single year. Therefore, video games such as FIFA are unlikely to make it to the top E-Sports games awarding prize money.

What type of Governance for E-Sports ?

The formation of a single internationally recognized E-Sports federation would be a first step in a long journey to reach the Olympics. Currently however, several international E-Sports organizations exist.

In South Korea, where E-Sports is what football is to Brazil, the South Korean E-Sports Association was founded in 2000. The Association regulates the working conditions of cyber athletes. The highest earnings in E-Sports by countries are listed as: China, the United States, South Korea, Sweden and Canada. As for international associations, three of them need to be mentioned.

First, there is the World E-Sports Association (WESA), founded in 2016 by a group of E-Sports teams and ESL (i.e. largest video game event company in the world). WESA aims to professionalize the industry, regulating matters regarding revenues and schedules. WESA even has an internal arbitration court, namely WESA Arbitration Court. It operates independently from WESA and is open to everyone involved in E-Sports, such as players, teams, organizers and publishers.

The second is the International e-Sports Federation (IeSF), an international organization based in Seoul, South Korea. A total of 46 nations are member of the IeSF. It has listed seven objectives in its Statute, the first one being as follows: to “constantly improve e-Sports and promote it in the light of its values - humanitarian, educational, cultural, unity of purpose and ability to promote peace”. IeSF is a signatory of the World Anti-Doping Code (WADC). ESL also endorsed the WADC and conducts doping tests on cyber athletes. Stimulants- drugs that improve reaction time and concentration are prohibited.

The third association worth mentioning is the International eGames Committee (IEGC), a non-profit E-Sports organization, supported by the government of the United Kingdom. It aims to positively shape the future of competitive gaming.

In my view, countries that seek to be a part of the E-Sports world should establish their own national federations and apply to IeSF. IeSF should collaborate with WESA, which is founded by the most significant organizations in the industry. IeSF is capable of growing into an internationally recognized authority that is in charge of international competitions between national teams, whereas WESA would be in charge of all competitions between clubs.

E-Sports and Free Speech
Since there is a certain amount of (virtual) killing and planting bombs involved, some games are not suitable for children. Deciding who can play which game is up to certain institutions around the world. One of them is Pan European Game Information (PEGI). PEGI is the age rating system for video games in Europe, Israel and Quebec. The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) is another institution providing an age rating system for video games, this time for North America. PEGI and ESRB standards are generally not legally binding. PEGI standards are legally enforced in few jurisdictions, one being the United Kingdom. Another example is Austria. In Austria, protection of minors are implemented by states. Two of the nine states, Vienna and Carinthia, legally adopted PEGI standards.

California passed a law that prohibited the sale of certain video games to minors. It was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ruled that video games were protected speech under the First Amendment.[3] The Supreme Court had its own reasons, such as “Psychological studies purporting to show a connection between exposure to violent video games and harmful effects on children do not prove that such exposure causes minors to act aggressively.or “This country has no tradition of specially restricting children’s access to depictions of violence.”

E-Sports and IP Law
Apart from constitutional law, video games can be subject to other fields of the law. Intellectual property law is one of such fields. For example, DotA is a fan-made custom map originated with Warcraft III, a strategy video game created by Blizzard Entertainment. It was not a separate game until published by Valve Corporation as Dota 2. Blizzard sought to prevent registration by its competitor Valve of the trademark Dota by resorting to the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Subsequently, Blizzard and Valve reached a settlement agreement and Valve went on to publish Dota 2.

Playing Dota 2 is free of charge and Valve speedily hosted its first competition in 2011, with a prize pool of 1.6 million dollars. The International became an annual Dota 2 E-Sports tournament. The prize pool for the tournament in 2016 was approximately 20 million dollars. The team Wings Gaming of China completed the tournament in first place and was awarded 9.1 million dollars. The final was viewed by almost 6 million spectators. Dota 2 tournaments have awarded a total prize money of approximately 90 million dollars so far. League of Legends took the second place with 36 million dollars, followed by Counter Strike: GO (nearly 27 million dollars) and Starcraft II (nearly 22 million dollars). 

E-Sports Clubs, Athletes and the Law
The E-Sports teams that participate in these kind of high level competitions have different rosters for different games. They are starting to become more and more important business entities with their superstar players. The teams are mainly sponsored by tech firms, consumer electronics companies, gaming equipment producers, web hosting companies, automobile manufacturers, energy drinks manufacturers and business people who dream of owning a sports team but who cannot afford to acquire a professional football club. Football clubs themselves are also keen on forming their own E-Sports club, not only limited to football games. PSG (FIFA, LoL, Starcraft, CS, Call of Duty and Hearthstone) Schalke 04 (LoL) and Manchester City (FIFA) have already signed their own E-Sports players. Besiktas was the first football club in the world to form an E-Sports team in 2015. Fenerbahce has also entered the arena in 2016 and will be competing in the upcoming Turkish League of Legends season with a roster of accomplished players. As for football, FIFA and EA Sports organise the FIFA Interactive World Cup 2017. FIFA announced that the winning prize would be 200 thousand dollars.

High level cyber athletes are mostly men. However, the industry is trying to tackle gender discrimination and promote women cyber athletes. Cyber athletes sign contracts with their teams and sometimes receive salaries from video game developers. The developer of League of Legends, Riot Games chooses to pay salaries to competitors. Cyber athletes may want to make some extra money by streaming on online platforms, an important issue while drafting a contract. Therefore, E-Sports concerns both labor law and contract law. It also concerns criminal law, as there have been several incidents of betting-related match-fixing in E-Sports. In one such case, the manager of a LoL club was inciting his players to lose against big teams, claiming that the organizers would kick them out of the league should they win. The players allegedly did so, believing their manager. In the end, the manager was found to be betting against his own team, which finished the season with no wins. A player of the team attempted suicide, leaping off a building. Fortunately, he survived. In another case, a Dota 2 player placed a bet against his own team in a major event and won $322. “322” is now a nickname for players who deliberately fail in a game.

In Turkey, where I practice law, E-Sports players became athletes licensed by the “Federation of Developing Sports”, established by the Sports Ministry. There are about three thousand licensed players. The level of professionalism in elite clubs is surprising, and they are actually pretty successful in international tournaments. Space Soldiers (CS:GO), SuperMassive (LoL) are followed by tens of thousands of fans, even though they were founded only a few years ago.

The primary concern of the athletes and their families in general is the lack of opportunities after their brief but intense careers. Successful cyber athletes require a superordinate level of reactions and excellent reflexes. These attributes become slower with time. Consequently, cyber athletes are usually active between the ages 18-23. It is arduous for them to find time to study, as they need at least eight hours of training per day. National legislators around the world should also focus on devising E-Sports regulations, as more and more professional contracts are being signed. Cyber athletes are transferred from clubs to other clubs as in any other sport and foreign cyber athletes may encounter problems regarding their visas. France recently tackled the legal vacuum and granted a specific legal status for cyber athletes.

Call it a sport or not, E-Sports is growing exponentially. It is an industry worth billions and watched by millions. Although the industry is a commercial success, there are still lots of legal issues to tackle. These legal issues fall within the scope of various fields of law causing lawyers to work on improving their respective national laws.

Transfers of cyber athletes, drafting contracts for cyber athletes and the resolution of contractual disputes are some of the key issues, as well as tackling doping and match-fixing, intellectual property rights, broadcasting rights in particular, and the exploitation of minors or professional gamers. WESA and IeSF are significant international organizations that can endeavor on unifying E-Sports regulations and tackling legal problems faced by the players and the clubs.

The 21st century will offer more new games to play. Considering the current growth in the industry, I would dare predict that the industry will be worth hundreds of billions in the near future. I would recommend the countries and E-Sports governing bodies leading the industry to work together and bring forth certain essential regulations. This would also benefit game developers, as their games and gamers would find a place in the industry on a legal basis. I would also suggest the industry to incite women cyber athletes and facilitate their involvement in professional competitions, so that possible instances of discrimination are proactively precluded.

[1] Nurettin Emre Bilginoglu, LLM, Attorney-at-law - Istanbul, Turkey.  E-mail:

[2] Although there is no precise definition of a “professional E-Sports player”, the approach of FIFA could be deemed applicable by analogy. According to Article 2 of FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players, a professional is a player who has a written contract with a club and is paid more for his footballing activity than the expenses he effectively incurs. In E-Sports, certain players are paid more for their gaming activities than the expenses they incur.

[3] Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association, 564 U.S. 786 (2011).

Comments (1) -

  • Adem Yaşar

    2/6/2017 4:55:32 PM |

    A new milestone has been recorded in the history of eSports. So, that is very good to deal with this matter in terms of legal implications.
    Good luck from Heidelberg University

Comments are closed