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

Athletes = Workers! Spanish Supreme Court grants labour rights to athletes

Nearly twenty years after the European Court of Justice declared in the Bosman case that all professional athletes within the EU were given the right to a free transfer at the end of their contracts, the Spanish Tribunal Supremo[1] provided a judgment on 26 March 2014 that will heighten a new debate on the rights of professional athletes once their contract expires.

More...

Welcome to the ASSER International Sports Law Blog!

Dear Reader,

Today the ASSER International Sports Law Centre is very pleased to unveil its new blog. Not so surprisingly, it will cover everything you need to know on International Sports Law: Cases, Events, Publications. It will also feature short academic commentaries on "hot topics".

This is an interactive universe. You, reader, are more than welcome to engage with us via your comments on the posts, or a message through the contact form (we will answer ASAP).

This is an exciting development for the Centre, a new dynamic way to showcase our scholarly output and to engage with the sports law world. We hope you will enjoy it and that it will push you to come and visit us on our own playing field in The Hague.

With sporting regards,

The Editors


Asser International Sports Law Blog | Our International Sports Law Diary <br/>The <a href="http://www.sportslaw.nl" target="_blank">Asser International Sports Law Centre</a> is part of the <a href="https://www.asser.nl/" target="_blank"><img src="/sportslaw/blog/media/logo_asser_horizontal.jpg" style="vertical-align: bottom; margin-left: 7px;width: 140px" alt="T.M.C. Asser Instituut" /></a>

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 EU State aid and Sport Saga: Hungary revisited? (Part 2)

On 18 May 2016, the day the first part of this blog was published, the Commission said in response to the Hungarian MEP Péter Niedermüller’s question, that it had “not specifically monitored the tax relief (…) but would consider doing so. The Commission cannot prejudge the steps that it might take following such monitoring. However, the Commission thanks (Niedermüller) for drawing its attention to the report of Transparency International.”

With the actual implementation in Hungary appearing to deviate from the original objectives and conditions of the aid scheme, as discussed in part 1 of this blog, a possible monitoring exercise by the Commission of the Hungarian tax benefit scheme seems appropriate. The question remains, however, whether the Commission follows up on the intent of monitoring, or whether the intent should be regarded as empty words. This second part of the blog will outline the rules on reviewing and monitoring (existing) aid, both substantively and procedurally. It will determine, inter alia, whether the State aid rules impose an obligation upon the Commission to act and, if so, in what way. More...

The Rise and Fall of FC Twente

Yesterday, 18 May 2016, the licensing committee of the Dutch football federation (KNVB) announced its decision to sanction FC Twente with relegation to the Netherland’s second (and lowest) professional league. The press release also included a link to a document outlining the reasons underlying the decision. For those following the saga surrounding Dutch football club FC Twente, an unconditional sanction by the licensing committee appeared to be only a matter of time. Yet, it is the sanction itself, as well as its reasoning, that will be the primary focus of this short blog.More...

The EU State aid and Sport Saga: Hungary’s tax benefit scheme revisited? (Part 1)

The tax benefit scheme in the Hungarian sport sector decision of 9 November 2011 marked a turning point as regards the Commission’s decisional practice in the field of State aid and sport. Between this date and early 2014, the Commission reached a total of ten decisions on State aid to sport infrastructure and opened four formal investigations into alleged State aid to professional football clubs like Real Madrid and Valencia CF.[1] As a result of the experience gained from the decision making, it was decided to include a Section on State aid to sport infrastructure in the 2014 General Block Exemption Regulation. Moreover, many people, including myself, held that Commission scrutiny in this sector would serve to achieve better accountability and transparency in sport governance.[2]

Yet, a recent report by Transparency International (TI), published in October 2015, raises questions about the efficiency of State aid enforcement in the sport sector. The report analyzes the results and effects of the Hungarian tax benefit scheme and concludes that:

“(T)he sports financing system suffers from transparency issues and corruption risks. (…) The lack of transparency poses a serious risk of collusion between politics and business which leads to opaque lobbying. This might be a reason for the disproportionateness found in the distribution of the subsidies, which is most apparent in the case of (football) and (the football club) Felcsút.”[3]

In other words, according to TI, selective economic advantages from public resources are being granted to professional football clubs, irrespective of the tax benefit scheme greenlighted by the Commission or, in fact, because of the tax benefit scheme. More...

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.


Introduction

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 ctalbot@tcd.ie, you can follow him on Twitter at @ConorTalbot and his research is available at www.ssrn.com/author=1369709. This piece was first published on the humanrights.ie 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 Asser International Sports Law Blog | Our International Sports Law Diary <br/>The <a href="http://www.sportslaw.nl" target="_blank">Asser International Sports Law Centre</a> is part of the <a href="https://www.asser.nl/" target="_blank"><img src="/sportslaw/blog/media/logo_asser_horizontal.jpg" style="vertical-align: bottom; margin-left: 7px;width: 140px" alt="T.M.C. Asser Instituut" /></a>

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

Will the World Cup 2022 Expansion Mark the Beginning of the End of FIFA’s Human Rights Journey? - By Daniela Heerdt

Editor's note: Daniela Heerdt is a PhD candidate at Tilburg Law School in the Netherlands. Her PhD research deals with the establishment of responsibility and accountability for adverse human rights impacts of mega-sporting events, with a focus on FIFA World Cups and Olympic Games.


About three years ago, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) adopted a new version of its Statutes, including a statutory commitment to respect internationally recognized human rights. Since then, FIFA undertook a human rights journey that has been praised by various stakeholders in the sports and human rights field. In early June, the FIFA Congress is scheduled to take a decision that could potentially undo all positive efforts taken thus far.

FIFA already decided in January 2017 to increase the number of teams participating in the 2026 World Cup from 32 to 48. Shortly after, discussions began on the possibility to also expand the number of teams for the 2022 World Cup hosted in Qatar. Subsequently, FIFA conducted a feasibility study, which revealed that the expansion would be feasible but require a number of matches to be hosted in neighbouring countries, explicitly mentioning Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). One does not have to be a human rights expert to be highly alarmed by this list of potential co-hosting countries. Nevertheless, the FIFA Council approved of the possibility to expand in March 2019, paving the way for the FIFA Congress to take a decision on the matter. Obviously, the advancement of the expansion decision raises serious doubts over the sincerity of FIFA’s reforms and human rights commitments. More...



How Data Protection Crystallises Key Legal Challenges in Anti-Doping - By Marjolaine Viret

Editor's Note: Marjolaine is a researcher and attorney admitted to the Geneva bar (Switzerland) who specialises in sports and life sciences. Her interests focus on interdisciplinary approaches as a way of designing effective solutions in the field of anti-doping and other science-based domains. Her book “Evidence in Anti-Doping at the Intersection of Science & Law” was published through T.M.C Asser Press / Springer in late 2015. She participates as a co-author on a project hosted by the University of Neuchâtel to produce the first article-by-article legal commentary of the 2021 World Anti-Doping Code. In her practice, she regularly advises international federations and other sports organisations on doping and other regulatory matters, in particular on aspects of scientific evidence, privacy or research regulation. She also has experience assisting clients in arbitration proceedings before the Court of Arbitration for Sport or other sport tribunals.


Since the spectre of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (‘GDPR’) has loomed over the sports sector,[1] a new wind seems to be blowing on anti-doping, with a palpable growing interest for stakes involved in data processing. Nothing that would quite qualify as a wind of change yet, but a gentle breeze of awareness at the very least.

Though the GDPR does mention the fight against doping in sport as a potential matter of public health in its recitals,[2] EU authorities have not gone so far as to create a standalone ground on which anti-doping organisations could rely to legitimise their data processing. Whether or not anti-doping organisations have a basis to process personal data – and specifically sensitive data – as part of their anti-doping activities, thus remains dependent on the peculiarities of each national law. Even anti-doping organisations that are incorporated outside the EU are affected to the extent they process data about athletes in the EU.[3] This includes international sports federations, many of which are organised as private associations under Swiss law. Moreover, the Swiss Data Protection Act (‘DPA’) is currently under review, and the revised legal framework should largely mirror the GDPR, subject to a few Swiss peculiarities. All anti-doping organisations undertake at a minimum to abide by the WADA International Standard for Privacy and the Protection of Personal Information (‘ISPPPI’), which has been adapted with effect to 1 June 2018 and enshrines requirements similar to those of the GDPR. However, the ISPPPI stops short of actually referring to the GDPR and leaves discretion for anti-doping organisations to adapt to other legislative environments.

The purpose of this blog is not to offer a detailed analysis of the requirements that anti-doping organisations must abide by under data protection laws, but to highlight how issues around data processing have come to crystallise key challenges that anti-doping organisations face globally. Some of these challenges have been on the table since the adoption of the first edition of the World Anti-Doping Code (‘WADC’) but are now exposed in the unforgiving light of data protection requirements. More...



What happens in Switzerland stays in Switzerland: The Striani Judgment of the Brussels Court of Appeals

In the last five years, the Striani case has been the main sword of Damocles hanging over UEFA’s Financial Fair Play Regulations. At the very least, the only real judicial threat they have faced (apart from the relatively harmless challenge mounted in the Galatasaray case at the CAS). Indeed, a Belgian player agent, Daniele Striani, represented by Bosman’s former lawyer Jean-Louis Dupont, attempted, in various fora, to challenge the compatibility of UEFA’s CL&FFP Regulations with EU law. Striani lodged a complaint with the European Commission (which was quickly rejected in October 2014) and initiated a private action for damages before the Brussels Court of First Instance. The latter deemed itself not competent to decide on the matter, but nevertheless accepted to order a provisory stay of the enforcement of the UEFA FFP Regulations pending a preliminary reference to the Court of Justice of the EU (see Ben van Rompuy’s blog on the case here). The CJEU unsurprisingly rejected to enter into the matter, but UEFA and Striani decided to appeal the first instance ruling to the Court of Appeal, which rendered its decision on 11 April. It is unclear at this stage whether Striani will attempt to challenge it at the Belgian Cour de Cassation (Highest Civil Court), however this would entail considerable risks and costs and his lawyers to date have not indicated that they would do so (see here). 

While the ruling of the Court of Appeal does not touch upon the much-discussed question of the compatibility of UEFA’s FFP Regulations with EU law (see our many blogs on the question here, here and here), it remains an interesting decision to discuss broader questions related to the procedural ease in challenging regulatory decisions passed by sports governing bodies (SGBs) based in Switzerland. Competition law constitutes the main legal tool available to sports stakeholders looking to challenge existing regulatory arrangements from the outside (e.g. not going through the internal political systems of the SGBs or the CAS route). Recent cases, such as the ISU decision of the European Commission, the Pechstein case in front of the German courts or the Rule 40 decision of the German competition authority, have demonstrated the potency of competition law to question the legality of the rules and decisions of the SGBs.[1] In this regard, the decision of the Brussels Court of Appeal narrows the range of parties allowed to challenge in European courts the SGBs’ rules and decisions on the basis of competition law. More...

Can European Citizens Participate in National Championships? An Analysis of AG Tanchev’s Opinion in TopFit e.V. Daniele Biffi v Deutscher Leichtathletikverband e.V. - By Thomas Terraz

Editor’s note: Thomas Terraz is a third year LL.B. candidate at the International and European Law programme at The Hague University of Applied Sciences with a specialisation in European Law. Currently he is pursuing an internship at the T.M.C. Asser Institute with a focus on International and European Sports Law.


1.     Introduction

To many it may seem obvious that athletes in a national championship should only be able to participate if they have the nationality of the relevant state. The Dutch Road Cycling National Championships should have Dutch cyclists, and the German Athletics Championships should have German athletes and so forth. However, in reality, foreign competitors are allowed to participate in many national championships in the EU, and there is a wide discrepancy between the rules of national sport governing bodies on this issue. There is no unified practice when investigating this point by country or by sport, and rules on participation range from a complete ban on foreign competitors to absolutely no mention of foreign athletes.[1] Thus, the question arises: should foreign athletes be able to participate in national sport championships?

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) will soon be required to provide an, at least partial, answer to this dilemma as a result of an application for a preliminary ruling.  A German Court has referred three questions to the CJEU on the case TopFit e.V. Daniele Biffi v Deutscher Leichtathletikverband e.V. (DLV) which in essence ask whether EU citizenship rights and in particular, the requirement of non-discrimination on the basis of nationality, should be applied to non-nationals wishing to participate in an athletics national championship in Germany. In the meantime, the Advocate General (AG), who provides a non-binding opinion to the Court before a decision is delivered, Evgeni Tanchev has delivered an interesting opinion on the case. It addresses the claims from the applicants based on EU citizenship rights and urges the CJEU to instead review the case on the basis of the freedom of establishment.

This blog will dissect the AG’s opinion to assess the main arguments put forward in relation to freedom of establishment and EU citizenship. Furthermore, it will weigh the ramifications this case may have on the boundaries of EU law in relation to sport. To fully appreciate the AG’s opinion, it is necessary to first discuss the intriguing factual and legal background colouring this case. After all, this will not be the first time the CJEU faces thorny issues concerning discrimination on the basis of nationality and sport. More...


International and European Sports Law – Monthly Report – February and March 2019. 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.

 

The Headlines

The Court of Arbitration for Sport bans 12 Russian track and field athletes

On 1 February 2019, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) communicated that it had rendered another 12 decisions in the seemingly endless saga concerning the state-sponsored doping programme in Russia. These first-instance decisions of the CAS involve 12 Russian track and field athletes who were all found guilty of anti-doping rule violations based on the evidence underlying the reports published by professor Richard McLaren and suspended from participating in sports competitions for periods ranging from two to eight years. Arguably the most prominent name that appears on the list of banned athletes is Ivan Ukhov, the 32-year-old high jump champion from the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

The case was brought by the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) that sought to convince the arbitrators that the athletes in question had participated in and/or benefited from anabolic steroid doping programmes and benefited from specific protective methods (washout schedules) in the period between the 2012 Olympic Games in London and the 2013 IAAF World Championships in Moscow. The CAS was acting in lieau of the Russian Athletics Federation that remains suspended and thus unable to conduct any disciplinary procedures. The athletes have had the opportunity to appeal the decisions to the CAS Appeals Arbitration Division.

Federal Cartel Office in Germany finds Rule 40 of the Olympic Charter disproportionately restrictive

At the end of February, the German competition authority Bundeskartellamt announced that it had entered into a commitment agreement with the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in which these two organisations had agreed to considerably enhance advertising opportunities for German athletes and their sponsors during the Olympic Games. The respective agreement is a direct consequence of the Bundeskartellamt’s finding that the IOC and the DOSB had abused their dominant position on the market for organising and marketing the Olympic Games by demanding that the athletes refrain from promoting their own sponsors while the Games are ongoing, as well as shortly before and after the Games. This restriction stems from Rule 40(3) of the Olympic Charter under which no competitor who participates in the Games may allow his person, name, picture or sports performances to be used for advertising purposes, unless the IOC Executive Board allows him/her to do so.

As part of fulfilling its obligations under the commitment agreement, the DOSB has relaxed its guidelines on promotional activities of German athletes during the Olympic Games. For its part, the IOC has declared that these new guidelines would take precedence over Rule 40(3) of the Olympic Charter. However, it still remains to be seen whether in response to the conclusions of the German competition authority the IOC will finally change the contentious rule.

The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights refuses to pronounce itself on Claudia Pechstein’s case

Claudia Pechstein’s challenge against the CAS brought before the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has not yielded the desired result for the German athlete. On 5 February 2019, a Panel of the Grand Chamber of the ECtHR decided that the Grand Chamber would not entertain the case. This means that the judgment handed down by the 3rd Chamber of the ECtHR on 2 October 2018, in which the ECtHR confirmed that except for the lack of publicity of oral hearings the procedures of the CAS are compatible with the right to a fair trial under Article 6(1) of the European Convention on Human Rights, has now become final and binding. However, the protracted legal battle between the five-time Olympic champion in speed skating and the CAS is not over yet since there is one more challenge against the CAS and its independence pending before the German Constitutional Court.  More...

New Event! FIFA and Human Rights: Impacts, Policies, Responsibilities - 8 May 2019 - Asser Institute

In the past few years, FIFA underwent intense public scrutiny for human rights violations surrounding the organisation of the World Cup 2018 in Russia and 2022 in Qatar. This led to a reform process at FIFA, which involved a number of policy changes, such as:

  • Embracing the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights;
  • The inclusion of human rights in the FIFA Statutes;
  • Adopting new bidding rules including human rights requirements;
  • And introducing a Human Rights Advisory Board.

To take stock of these changes, the Asser Institute and the Netherlands Network for Human Rights Research (NNHRR), are organising a conference on the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) and human rights, which will take place at the Asser Institute in The Hague on 8 May 2019.

This one-day conference aims to take a deeper look at FIFA’s impacts on human rights and critically investigate the measures it has adopted to deal with them. Finally, we will also address FIFA’s potential legal responsibilities under a variety of human rights laws/instruments.


Preliminary Programme

9:00 Registration & Coffee

9:45 Welcome by Antoine Duval (Asser Institute) & Daniela Heerdt (Tilburg University)

10:00 Opening Remarks by Andreas Graf (Human Rights Officer, FIFA)

10:30 Panel 1: FIFA & Human Rights: Impacts

  • Zoher Shabbir (University of York) – The correlation between forced evictions and developing nations hosting the FIFA World Cup
  • Roman Kiselyov (European Human Rights Advocacy Centre) - FIFA World Cup as a Pretext for a Crackdown on Human Rights
  • Eleanor Drywood (Liverpool University) - FIFA and children’s rights: theory, methodology and practice 

12:00 Lunch

13:00 Panel 2: FIFA & Human Rights: Policies

  • Lisa Schöddert & Bodo Bützler (University of Cologne) – FIFA’s eigen-constitutionalisation and its limits
  • Gigi Alford (World Players Association) - Power Play: FIFA’s voluntary human rights playbook does not diminish Switzerland’s state power to protect against corporate harms
  • Brendan Schwab (World Players Association) & Craig Foster - FIFA, human rights and the threatened refoulement of Hakeem Al Araibi 

14:30 Break

15:00 Panel 3: FIFA & Human Rights: Responsibilities

  • Daniel Rietiker (ECtHR and University of Lausanne) - The European Court of Human Rights and Football: Current Issues and Potential
  • Jan Lukomski (Łukomski Niklewicz law firm) - FIFA and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights : Obligations, duties and remedies regarding the labour rights         protected under the ICESCR
  • Raquel Regueiro Dubra (Complutense University of Madrid) - Shared international responsibility for human rights violations in global events. The case of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
  • Wojciech Lewandowski (Polish Academy of Sciences/University of Warsaw) - Is Bauer the new Bosman? – The implications of the newest CJEU jurisprudence for FIFA and other sport governing bodies

17:00 Closing Remarks by Mary Harvey (Chief Executive, Centre for Sports and Human Rights)


More information and registration at https://www.asser.nl/education-events/events/?id=3064

International and European Sports Law – Monthly Report – January 2019 - 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.

 

The Headlines

#Save(d)Hakeem

The plight of Hakeem al-Araibi – the 25-year-old refugee footballer who was arrested last November in Bangkok upon his arrival from Australia on the basis of a red notice issued by Interpol in contravention of its own policies which afford protection to refugees and asylum-seekers – continued throughout the month of January. Bahrain – the country Hakeem al-Araibi fled in 2014 due to a (well-founded) fear of persecution stemming from his previous experience when he was imprisoned and tortured as part of the crackdown on pro-democracy athletes who had protested against the royal family during the Arab spring – maintained a firm stance, demanding that Hakeem be extradited to serve a prison sentence over a conviction for vandalism charges, which was allegedly based on coerced confessions and ignored evidence.

While international sports governing bodies were critised from the very beginning for not using enough leverage with the governments of Bahrain and Thailand to ensure that Hakeem’s human rights are protected, they have gradually added their voice to the intense campaign for Hakeem’s release led by civil society groups. FIFA, for example, has sent a letter directly to the Prime Minister of Thailand, urging the Thai authorities ‘to take the necessary steps to ensure that Mr al-Araibi is allowed to return safely to Australia at the earliest possible moment, in accordance with the relevant international standards’. Yet many activists have found this action insufficient and called for sporting sanctions to be imposed on the national football associations of Bahrain and Thailand.      

When it looked like Hakeem will continue to be detained in Thailand at least until April this year, the news broke that the Thai authorities agreed to release Hakeem due to the fact that for now the Bahraini government had given up on the idea of bringing Hakeem ‘home’ – a moment that was praised as historic for the sport and human rights movement.

Russia avoids further sanctions from WADA despite missing the deadline for handing over doping data from the Moscow laboratory 

WADA has been back in turmoil ever since the new year began as the Russian authorities failed to provide it with access to crucial doping data from the former Moscow laboratory within the required deadline which expired on 31 December 2018, insisting that the equipment WADA intended to use for the data extraction was not certified under Russian law. The Russian Anti-Doping Agency thus failed to meet one of the two conditions under which its three-year suspension was controversially lifted in September 2018. The missed deadline sparked outrage among many athletes and national anti-doping organisations, who blamed WADA for not applying enough muscle against the Russian authorities.

Following the expiry of the respective deadline, it appeared that further sanctions could be imposed on the Russian Anti-Doping Agency, but such an option was on the table only until WADA finally managed to access the Moscow laboratory and retrieve the doping data on 17 January 2019. Shortly thereafter, WADA President Sir Craig Reedie hailed the progress as a major breakthrough for clean sport and members of the WADA Executive Committee agreed that no further sanctions were needed despite the missed deadline. However, doubts remain as to whether the data have not been manipulated. Before WADA delivers on its promise and builds strong cases against the athletes who doped – to be handled by international sports federations – it first needs to do its homework and verify whether the retrieved data are indeed genuine.  

British track cyclist Jessica Varnish not an employee according to UK employment tribunal

On 16 January 2019, an employment tribunal in Manchester rendered a judgment with wider implications for athletes and sports governing bodies in the United Kingdom, ruling that the female track cyclist Jessica Varnish was neither an employee nor a worker of the national governing body British Cycling and the funding agency UK Sport. The 28-year-old multiple medal winner from the world and European championships takes part in professional sport as an independent contractor but sought to establish before the tribunal that she was in fact an employee of the two organisations. This would enable her to sue either organisation for unfair dismissal as she was dropped from the British cycling squad for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and her funding agreement was not renewed, allegedly in response to her critical remarks about some of the previous coaching decisions.

The tribunal eventually dismissed her challenge, concluding that ‘she was not personally performing work provided by the respondent – rather she was personally performing a commitment to train in accordance with the individual rider agreement in the hope of achieving success at international competitions’. Despite the outcome of the dispute, Jessica Varnish has insisted that her legal challenge contributed to a positive change in the structure, policies and personnel of British Cycling and UK Sport, while both organisations have communicated they had already taken action to strengthen the duty of care and welfare provided to athletes.  

 

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Upcoming Events

Call for papers - Third Annual International Sports Law Conference of the International Sports Law Journal - 24 and 25 October 2019 - Asser Institute

The Editors of the International Sports Law Journal (ISLJ) invite you to submit abstracts for the third ISLJ Annual Conference on International Sports Law, which will take place on 24 and 25 October 2019 at the Asser Institute in The Hague. The ISLJ, published by Springer and Asser Press, is the leading academic publication in the field of international sports law. The conference is a unique occasion to discuss the main legal issues affecting international sports with renowned academic experts and practitioners.


We are delighted to announce the following confirmed keynote speakers:


  • Beckie Scott (Chair of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Athlete Committee, Olympic Champion, former member of the WADA Executive Committee and the International Olympic Committee (IOC)),
  • Ulrich Haas (Professor of Law at Univerzität Zürich, CAS arbitrator), and
  • Kimberly Morris (Head of FIFA Transfer Matching System (TMS) Integrity and Compliance).


We welcome abstracts from academics and practitioners on any question related to international sports law. We also welcome panel proposals (including a minimum of three presenters) on a specific issue. For this year’s edition, we specifically invite submissions on the following themes:


  • The role of athletes in the governance of international sports
  • The evolution of sports arbitration, including the Court of Arbitration for Sport
  •  The role and functioning of the FIFA transfer system, including the FIFA TMS
  •  The intersection between criminal law and international sports (in particular issues of corruption, match-fixing, human trafficking, tax evasion)
  • Hooliganism
  • Protection of minor athletes
  • Civil and criminal liability relating to injuries in sports


Please send your abstract of 300 words and CV no later than 30 April 2019 to a.duval@asser.nl. Selected speakers will be informed by 15 May.


The selected participants will be expected to submit a draft paper by 1 September 2019. All papers presented at the conference are eligible (subjected to peer-review) for publication in a special issue of the ISLJ.  To be considered for inclusion in the conference issue of the journal, the final draft must be submitted for review by 15 December 2019.  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. 250€). If you wish to be considered for a grant please indicate it in your submission. 

A Reflection on the Second Report of FIFA’s Human Rights Advisory Board - By Daniela Heerdt (Tilburg University)

Editor's note: Daniela Heerdt is a PhD candidate at Tilburg Law School in the Netherlands and works as Research Officer for the Centre for Sports and Human Rights. Her PhD research deals with the establishment of responsibility and accountability for adverse human rights impacts of mega-sporting events, with a focus on FIFA World Cups and Olympic Games. She published an article in the International Sports Law Journal that discusses to what extent the revised bidding and hosting regulations by FIFA, the IOC and UEFA strengthen access to remedy for mega-sporting events-related human rights violations.

 

On November 26th, the Human Rights Advisory Board[1] of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) published its second report. This blog provides a summary and brief evaluation of the report, by drawing a comparison to the previous report issued by the Human Rights Advisory Board (hereinafter: the Board) based on the content of the recommendations and FIFA’s efforts to implement the Board’s recommendations. The third part of this blog briefly reflects on the broader implications of some of the new recommendations issued for FIFA’s internal policies. The conclusion provides five more general points of observation on the report. More...

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Pistorius revisited: A comment on the CAS award in Blake Leeper v. IAAF - By Marjolaine Viret

On 23 October 2020, a panel of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (‘CAS’) rendered an award in the matter opposing Mr Blake Leeper (‘Mr Leeper’ or ‘the Athlete’) to the International Association of Athletics Federation (‘IAAF’).[1] The CAS panel was asked to make a ruling on the validity of the IAAF rule that places on a disabled athlete the burden to prove that a mechanical aid used to compete in IAAF-sanctioned competitions does not give such athlete an overall competitive advantage.

The award is remarkable in that it declared the shift of the burden of proof on the athlete invalid, and reworded the rule so that the burden is shifted back on the IAAF to show the existence of a competitive advantage. Thus, while the IAAF won its case against Blake Leeper as the panel found that the sport governing body had discharged its burden in casu, the outcome can be viewed as a victory for disabled athletes looking to participate in IAAF-sanctioned events. It remains to be seen how this victory will play out in practice. Beyond the immediate issue at stake, the case further presents an illustration of how – all things equal – assigning the burden of proof can be decisive for the real-life impact of a policy involving complex scientific matters, as much as the actual legal prerequisites of the underlying rules.

This article focuses on some key aspects of the award that relate to proof issues in the context of assessing competitive advantage. Specifically, the article seeks to provide some food for thought regarding burden and degree of proof of an overall advantage, the contours of the test of ‘overall advantage’ designed by the CAS panel and its possible bearing in practice, and potential impact of the ruling on other areas of sports regulations such as anti-doping.

The award also analyses broader questions regarding the prohibition of discrimination in the regulation of sports, as well as the interplay with international human rights instruments such as the European Convention on Human Rights (‘ECHR’), which are not explored in depth here. More...

Revisiting FIFA’s Training Compensation and Solidarity Mechanism - Part. 2: The African Reality – By Rhys Lenarduzzi

Editor’s note: Rhys Lenarduzzi is a final semester Bachelor of Law (LL.B) and Bachelor of Philosophy (B.Phil.) student, at the University of Notre Dame, Sydney, Australia. As a former professional athlete, then international sports agent and consultant, Rhys is interested in international sports law, policy and ethics. He is currently undertaking an internship at the T.M.C. Asser Institute with a focus on Transnational Sports Law.


Having considered the history and justifications for the FIFA training compensation and solidarity mechanisms in my previous blog, I will now consider these systems in the African context. This appears to be a worthwhile undertaking given these global mechanisms were largely a result of European influence, so understanding their (extraterritorial) impact beyond the EU seems particularly important. Moreover, much has been written about the “muscle drain” affecting African football and the need for such drain to either be brought to a halt, or, more likely and perhaps more practical, to put in place an adequate system of redistribution to ensure the flourishing of African football that has essentially acted as a nursery for European football for at least a century. In the present blog, I intend to draw on my experiences as a football agent to expand on how FIFA’s redistributive mechanisms function in practice when an African player signs in Europe via one of the many kinds of entities that develop or purport to develop talent in Africa. I will throughout address the question of whether these mechanisms are effective in a general sense and more specifically in relation to their operation in Africa.More...



International and European Sports Law – Monthly Report – October 2020 - By Rhys Lenarduzzi

Editor’s note: Rhys Lenarduzzi is a final semester Bachelor of Law (LL.B) and Bachelor of Philosophy (B.Phil.) student, at the University of Notre Dame, Sydney, Australia. As a former professional athlete, then international sports agent and consultant, Rhys is interested in international sports law, policy and ethics. He is currently undertaking an internship at the T.M.C. Asser Institute with a focus on Transnational Sports Law.


The Headlines

Aguero and Massey-Ellis incident: An Opportunity for Change and Education?

In mid-October a clip went viral of Argentinian star Sergio Aguero putting his hands on sideline referee, Sian Massey-Ellis. A heated debate ensued in many circles, some claiming that Aguero’s conduct was commonplace, others taking aim at the appropriateness of the action, around players touching official and a male touching a female with an unsolicited arm around the back, the squeeze and pull in. Putting the normative arguments aside for a moment, the irony of the debate was that all sides had a point. Football, almost exclusively, has grown a culture of acceptance for touching officials despite the regulations. Male officials who have let such conduct slide, have arguably let their female colleague down in this instance.

Whilst a partial defence of Aguero might be that this kind of conduct takes place regularly, the incident could serve as a learning experience. If Massey-Ellis’ reaction was not enough, the backlash from some of the public might provide Aguero and other players the lesson, that touching a woman in this way is not acceptable.

Returning to football, the respect and protection of officials in sport, the key here appears to be cracking down on touching officials entirely. This is not a foreign concept and football need only look at the rugby codes. Under no circumstances does the regulations or the culture permit that a player from the rugby codes touch a referee. It is likely the case that the obvious extra level of respect for officials in these sports derives from a firm culture of no touching, no crowding officials, communicating with officials through the team captain only, with harsh sanctions if one does not comply.

The Football Association of England has decided no action was necessary, raising questions of how seriously they take the safety of officials, and gender issues. This is ultimately a global football issue though, so the confederations or international bodies may need step in to ensure the protections that appear at best fragile.  


Rugby Trans issue

The World Rugby Transgender guideline has been released and contains a comprehensive unpacking of the science behind much of the regulatory framework. Despite many experts applauding World Rugby on the guidelines and the extensive project to reach them, the England Rugby Football Union is the first to defy the World Rugby ruling and transgender women will still be allowed to play women’s rugby at all non-international levels of the game in England for the foreseeable future. This clash between national bodies and the international body on an important issue is concerning and will undoubtedly be one to keep an eye on.

 

CAS rejects the appeal of Munir El Haddadi and the Fédération Royale Marocaine de Football (FRMF)

The refusal to authorise a footballer to change national federation is in the headlines with the CAS dismissing the appeal of the player and Moroccan federation, confirming the original determination of the FIFA Players’ Status Committee.

This has been given considerable recent attention and seemingly worth following, perhaps best summed up by FIFA Director of Football Regulatory, James Kitching, where in a tweet he notes: “The new eligibility rules adopted by the FIFA Congress on 18 September 2020 have passed their first test. We will be publishing our commentary on the rules in the next fortnight. Watch this space.” More...



Revisiting FIFA’s Training Compensation and Solidarity Mechanism - Part.1: The historical, legal and political foundations - By Rhys Lenarduzzi

Editor’s note: Rhys Lenarduzzi is a final semester Bachelor of Law (LL.B) and Bachelor of Philosophy (B.Phil.) student, at the University of Notre Dame, Sydney, Australia. As a former professional athlete, then international sports agent and consultant, Rhys is interested in international sports law, policy and ethics. He is currently undertaking an internship at the T.M.C. Asser Institute with a focus on Transnational Sports Law.


In 2019, training compensation and solidarity contributions based on FIFA’s Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players (RSTP) amounted to US$ 75,5 million. This transfer of wealth from the clubs in the core of the football hierarchy to the clubs where the professional players originated is a peculiar arrangement unknown in other global industries. Beyond briefly pointing out or reminding the reader of how these systems work and the history behind them, this blog series aims to revisit the justifications for FIFA-imposed training compensation and the solidarity mechanism, assess their efficacy and effects through a case study of their operation in the African context, and finally analyse the potential impact of upcoming reforms of the FIFA RSTP in this context.

First, it is important to go back to the roots of this, arguably, strange practice. The current transfer system and the legal mechanisms constituting it were largely the result of a complex negotiation between European football’s main stakeholders and the European Commission dating back to 2001. The conclusion of these negotiations led to a new regulatory system enshrined in Article 20 and Annex 4 of the RSTP in the case of training compensation, and at Article 21 and Annex 5 in the case of the solidarity mechanism. Before paying some attention to the historical influences and how we arrived at these changes, as well as the justifications from the relevant bodies for their existence, let us briefly recall what training compensation and the solidarity mechanisms actually are. More...



Invalidity of forced arbitration clauses in organised sport…Germany strikes back! - By Björn Hessert

Editor's note: Björn Hessert is a research assistant at the University of Zurich and a lawyer admitted to the German bar.

 

The discussion revolving around the invalidity of arbitration clauses in organised sport in favour of national and international sports arbitral tribunals has been at the centre of the discussion in German courtrooms.[1] After the decisions of the German Federal Tribunal[2] (“BGH”) and the European Court of Human Rights[3] (“ECtHR”) in the infamous Pechstein case, this discussion seemed to have finally come to an end. Well…not according to the District Court (LG) of Frankfurt.[4] On 7 October 2020, the District Court rendered a press release in which the court confirmed its jurisdiction due to the invalidity of the arbitration clause contained in the contracts between two beach volleyball players and the German Volleyball Federation[5] (“DVV”) – but one step at a time. More...

International and European Sports Law – Monthly Report – September - October 2020 - By Rhys Lenarduzzi


The Headlines


Human rights and sport  

Caster Semenya

Human rights issues are taking the headlines in the sporting world at present. A short time ago, Caster Semenya’s appeal at the Swiss Federal Tribunal against the CAS decision was dismissed, perhaps raising more questions than answering them. Within the last few days however, the message from the Semenya camp has been that this is not over (see here).  See the contributions from a range of authors at Asser International Sports Law Blog for a comprehensive analysis of the Semenya case(s) to date.

Navid Afkari

As the sporting world heard of the execution of Iranian Wrestler Navid Afkari, a multitude of legal and ethical questions bubbled to the surface. Not least of all and not a new question: what is the responsibility of sport and the governing bodies therein, in the space of human rights?  And, if an athlete is to acquire a high profile through sporting excellence, does that render athletes vulnerable to be made an example of and therefore in need of greater protection than is currently afforded to them? There are differing views on how to proceed. Consider the following from the World Players Association (Navid Afkari: How sport must respond) and that from the IOC (IOC Statement on the execution of wrestler Navid Afkari) which shows no indication through this press releases and other commentary, of undertaking the measures demanded by World Players Association and other socially active organisations. (See also, Benjamin Weinthal - Olympics refuses to discuss Iranian regime’s murder of wrestler).

Yelena Leuchanka

As this is written and relevant to the above, Yelena Leuchanka is behind bars for her participation in protests, resulting in several sporting bodies calling for her immediate release and for reform in the sporting world around how it ought to deal with these issues. As a member of the “Belarus women's national basketball team, a former player at several WNBA clubs in the United States and a two-time Olympian”, Leuchanka has quite the profile and it is alleged that she is being made an example of. (see here)

Uighur Muslims and Beijing Winter Olympics

British Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab does not rule out Winter Olympics boycott over Uighur Muslims. ‘The foreign secretary said it was his "instinct to separate sport from diplomacy and politics" but that there "comes a point where that might not be possible".’ Though Raab’s comments are fresh, this issue is shaping as a “watch this space” scenario, as other governments might echo a similar sentiment as a result of mounting pressure from human rights activist groups and similar, in lead up to the Winter Games. More...



The Specificity of Sport - Comparing the Case-Law of the European Court of Justice and of the Court of Arbitration for Sport - Part 2 - By Stefano Bastianon

Editor’s note: Stefano Bastianon is Associate Professor in EU Law and EU sports law at the University of Bergamo and lawyer admitted to the Busto Arsizio bar.


1. EU law and the CAS case-law

Bearing in mind these questions, it is possible to affirm that under EU law, the specificity of sport

i) refers to the inherent characteristics of sport that set it apart from other economic and social activities and which have to be taken into account in assessing the compatibility of sporting rules with EU law; and

ii) under EU law these inherent characteristics of sport must be  considered on a case by case  basis, per the Wouters test as developed by the ECJ in the Meca Medina ruling.

Both aspects can be found in the CAS case-law too, although the CAS case-law shows some remarkable differences and peculiarities. From a general point of view, the application of the principle of specificity of sport in the CAS case-law represents an aspect of the more general issue related to the application of EU law by the CAS. However, the purpose of this paper is not to fully examine if and to what extent the CAS arbitrators apply EU law rules on free movement and competition; rather, the aim is to analyse the way the CAS deals with the concept of the specificity of sport, highlighting similarities and differences compared to the ECJ.

Taking for granted that ‘a CAS panel is not only allowed, but also obliged to deal with the issues involving the application of [EU] law’,[1] as far as the compatibility of sporting rules with EU law is concerned the CAS case-law shows different degrees of engagement. For instance, in the ENIC award concerning the so-called UEFA integrity rule, the CAS panel went through a complete competition-law analysis in perfect harmony with the Wouters et al. ruling by the ECJ.[2] On the contrary, in the above-quoted Mutu case, the issue of compatibility of the FIFA’s transfer regulations with EU competition law was analysed in a rather simple way, merely stating that the FIFA rules at stake were not anti-competitive under EU competition law without giving any reason to support this conclusion. More recently, in the Galatasaray and Milan A.C. awards, concerning the UEFA’s financial fair-play regulations, the CAS  applied a detailed analysis of EU competition law. However, in both cases, according to the CAS the proportionate character of sanctions listed in the UEFA’s financial fair-play regulations cannot affect the evaluation of the legitimacy of these regulations under Art. 101 TFEU. This conclusion represents a clear breaking point with respect to the ECJ case-law, according to which the evaluation of the restrictive effects of a rule necessarily presupposes the analysis of the proportionate character of the sanction imposed in the event of a violation of that rule as well.[3]   In regard to EU free movement, the CAS case-law tends to be less analytical in terms of the principle of proportionality. For instance, in the RFC Seraing award  which concerned both EU free movement and competition law, the CAS panel mainly focused on the legitimate objectives of the contested rule (FIFA’s ban on Third-Party Ownership – TPO), merely affirming that the restrictive measures under EU free movement were justified and inherent in the pursuit of those objectives.More...



The Specificity of Sport - Comparing the Case-Law of the European Court of Justice and of the Court of Arbitration for Sport - Part 1 - By Stefano Bastianon

Editor’s note: Stefano Bastianon is Associate Professor in EU Law and EU sports law at the University of Bergamo and lawyer admitted to the Busto Arsizio bar.*

 

1. Introduction.

The so-called specificity of sport represents one of the most debated, if not the most debated, but still undefined issue under European Union (EU) law. A noteworthy peculiarity is that the specificity of sport is frequently mentioned in several legislative and political documents issued by EU institutions, however it is not expressly referred to in any judgment by the European Court of Justice (ECJ).Conversely, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) case-law on Art. 17 of FIFA Regulations on status and transfer of players (RSTP) has repeatedly and expressly referred to the specificity of sport.[1] Apparently, the concept of specificity of sport has different meanings and purposes in the ECJ and CAS jurisprudence. In this blog (divided in two parts), I will try to analyse those two different meanings and to what extent the CAS case-law is consistent with the concept of specificity of sport as elaborated under EU law. More...

SFT rejects Semenya appeal: nothing changes - By Andy Brown

Editor's note: Andy Brown is a freelance journalist who has been writing about the governance of sport for over 15 years. He is the editor of The Sports Integrity Initiative where this blog appeared first.


For the last three days, I have been struggling with what to write regarding the Swiss Federal Tribunal’s (SFT) Decision to dismiss a challenge from Caster Semenya and Athletics South Africa (ASA) against the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s (CAS) Decision to dismiss a challenge to the Eligibility Regulations for the Female Classification (Athletes with Differences of Sex Development), otherwise known as the DSD Regulations. From reading World Athletics’ statement welcoming the ruling, one could be forgiven for thinking that it had won a major trial. Sports journalists, accustomed to covering events now curtailed by Covid-19, focus on the fact that Semenya has ‘lost’ her case against the DSD Regulations. Neither assertion is strictly accurate.

The SFT’s powers to review the CAS’s ruling are severely limited. It can only consider whether the CAS Decision violates ‘widely recognised principles of public order’ on Swiss public policy grounds. The SFT has only reversed a decision based on a a violation of Swiss public policy once in 30 years.

The SFT didn’t reconsider the evidence put forward to the CAS. ‘For there to be incompatibility with public policy, it is not enough that the evidence has been poorly assessed, that a finding of fact is manifestly false or that a rule of law has been clearly violated’, its Decision reads. ‘The only question to be resolved is in fact whether or not the verdict of the CAS renders the referred award incompatible with substantive public policy’. 

There were questions about whether the appeal from Semenya and ASA qualified to be reviewed by the SFT in the first place. World Athletics is a private organisation headquartered in Monaco, and the SFT was troubled as to whether such a complaint brought by a South African athlete against an overseas private organisation is capable of violating Swiss public policy.

‘It is doubtful whether the prohibition of discriminatory measures falls within the scope of the restrictive concept of public order when the discrimination is committed by a private person and occurs in relations between individuals’, the Decision quotes from its pervious 29 July 2019 Decision, which refused the ASA’s request to provisionally suspend the application of the DSD Regulations. ‘In any event, there is no need to examine this question further here since […] the award under appeal does not in any way establish discrimination which would be contrary to public order’

The SFT ruled that the CAS was correct to uphold conditions of participation for 46 XY DSD athletes in order to guarantee fair competition for certain disciplines in female athletics. In doing so, the SFT was ruling on whether the decision taken by the CAS violates public policy, based only on the complaints brought forward by Semenya and ASA. 

Semenya and the ASA had challenged the CAS Decision based around the idea that the DSD Regulations are discriminatory. The CAS held that they are discriminatory, but agreed with the IAAF (as World Athletics was then named) that such discrimination was necessary to protect its female category. The SFT ruled that even if the discriminatory rules of a private organisation such as the IAAF were considered able to pose a threat to public order, Semenya and the ASA had failed to demonstrate that the CAS Decision was so egregious that it posed such a threat.

‘Caster Semenya essentially alleges a violation of the prohibition of discrimination’, reads the Swiss Federal Supreme Court statement. ‘The CAS has issued a binding decision based on the unanimous opinion of the experts who were consulted that testosterone is the main factor for the different performance levels of the sexes in athletics; according to the CAS, women with the “46 XY DSD” gene variant have a testosterone level comparable to men, which gives them an insurmountable competitive advantage and enables them to beat female athletes without the “46 XY DSD” variant. Based on these findings, the CAS decision cannot be challenged. Fairness in sport is a legitimate concern and forms a central principle of sporting competition. It is one of the pillars on which competition is based. The European Court of Human Rights also attaches particular importance to the aspect of fair competition. In addition to this significant public interest, the CAS rightly considered the other relevant interests, namely the private interests of the female athletes running in the “women” category.’

Such strong support for the principle behind its DSD Regulations was rightly welcomed by World Athletics. Its statement asserted that the SFT ‘acknowledged that innate characteristics can distort the fairness of competitions’. I would argue that the SFT ruling didn’t do this, but rather found that a CAS Decision asserting this didn’t violate Swiss public policy. Semantics, perhaps.

Likewise, when World Athletics quotes the SFT Decision as confirming that ‘It is above all up to the sports federations to determine to what extent a particular physical advantage is likely to distort competition and, if necessary, to introduce legally admissible eligibility rules to remedy this state of affairs’, it is paraphrasing two texts quoted in the SFT Decision. The first is ‘La qualification juridique des rules autonomes des organizations sportive’ by Jérôme Jaquier, 2004. ‘Inborn characteristics specific to athletes in a particular group can also distort the fairness of competition’, the SFT Decision quotes from Jaquier. ‘When they enact regulations, the objective of sports federations is to ensure fair and equitable competition’.

The context of the second quote, from ‘Sportrecht – Berücksichtigung der Interessen des Sports in der Rechtsordnung’ by Martin Kaiser, 2011, is even more interesting. It is preceded with a statement from the Swiss Federal Supreme Court, which reads: ‘It is not for the Federal Court to make, abstractly, comparisons between the disciplines to assess whether a particular athlete has an advantage that makes sporting competition meaningless’

‘It is above all for the sporting federations to determine to what extent a particular physical advantage is liable to distort competition’, the SFT Decision quotes from Kaiser. ‘And, if so, to establish legally admissible eligibility rules to remedy this state of affairs’. 

Again, such details might be considered as semantics. But – I would argue – important semantics. Reading the media maelstrom that has resulted from the SFT Decision, one could be forgiven for assuming that Semenya has lost her case, and has no chance of ever defending her 800m title. However, a statement issued by her lawyers reveals that she intends to challenge the ruling in European and domestic courts.

“I am very disappointed by this ruling, but refuse to let World Athletics drug me or stop me from being who I am”, the statement continues. “Excluding female athletes or endangering our health solely because of our natural abilities puts World Athletics on the wrong side of history. I will continue to fight for the human rights of female athletes, both on the track and off the track, until we can all run free the way we were born. I know what is right and will do all I can to protect basic human rights, for young girls everywhere.” More...



The Semenya Decision of the Swiss Federal Tribunal: Human Rights on the Bench - By Faraz Shahlaei

Editor's note: Faraz Shahlaei is a JSD Candidate at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles. His research and teaching interests are public international law, international sports law, international human rights and dispute resolution.

 

The issue of international human rights was a central contention in Caster Semenya case ever since the start of her legal battle against the regulations of the IAAF. However, the human rights arguments were poorly considered in the two proceedings related to this case. To put it in perspective, it is like having a key player nailed to the bench throughout the whole game; no coach ever tried to give it a chance while it had the potential to be the game changer for all parties.

In 2019, the Human Rights Council, the inter-governmental human rights body of the UN, expressed concern over issues of discrimination in sports in particular regarding IAAF female classification regulations. In June 2020, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights submitted a report to the United Nations Human Rights Council on the “Intersection of Race and Gender Discrimination in Sport”. The report draws a detailed picture of how human rights in the Semenya case have been violated and also elaborates on the inherent problem of addressing human rights issues in alternative dispute resolution mechanisms favored by the sport governing bodies. However, despite an in-depth discussion of Caster Semenya’s case at both the CAS and then the SFT, the question of human rights, a key concern and a fundamental pillar of the case, hasn’t been adequately answered yet! More...


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" 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Asser International Sports Law Blog | Our International Sports Law Diary <br/>The <a href="http://www.sportslaw.nl" target="_blank">Asser International Sports Law Centre</a> is part of the <a href="https://www.asser.nl/" target="_blank"><img src="/sportslaw/blog/media/logo_asser_horizontal.jpg" style="vertical-align: bottom; margin-left: 7px;width: 140px" alt="T.M.C. Asser Instituut" /></a>

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

Athletes = Workers! Spanish Supreme Court grants labour rights to athletes

Nearly twenty years after the European Court of Justice declared in the Bosman case that all professional athletes within the EU were given the right to a free transfer at the end of their contracts, the Spanish Tribunal Supremo[1] provided a judgment on 26 March 2014 that will heighten a new debate on the rights of professional athletes once their contract expires.

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Welcome to the ASSER International Sports Law Blog!

Dear Reader,

Today the ASSER International Sports Law Centre is very pleased to unveil its new blog. Not so surprisingly, it will cover everything you need to know on International Sports Law: Cases, Events, Publications. It will also feature short academic commentaries on "hot topics".

This is an interactive universe. You, reader, are more than welcome to engage with us via your comments on the posts, or a message through the contact form (we will answer ASAP).

This is an exciting development for the Centre, a new dynamic way to showcase our scholarly output and to engage with the sports law world. We hope you will enjoy it and that it will push you to come and visit us on our own playing field in The Hague.

With sporting regards,

The Editors