Sports Law Ledger - Monday 13 April 2020


‪Easter / Passover edition of the latest news, updates, and alerts in our wonderful wide world of sports law:



AUSTRALIA


Governance, Government Relations - NRL: 'I think it's a bit ambitious': sports minister hoses down NRL return

The NRL is under mounting pressure from governments to delay its season return after federal sports minister Richard Colbeck described a May resumption as "ambitious".

A day after Australia's chief medical officer Professor Brendan Murphy labelled the NRL's proposed May 28 relaunch as "premature", Senator Colbeck also cast doubt on rugby league's plan amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Read report



Governance, Player Relations - Rugby Union: Pay stalemate continues as rumours swirl of huge World Rugby loan

Rugby Australia insists it has heard nothing about loans set to be handed out by World Rugby.

Read report



Governance, Integrity - NRL: Bulldogs duo appeal NRL deregistration over schoolgirl sex scandal

Bulldogs players Jayden Okunbor and Corey Harawira-Naera have lodged appeals with the NRL after their sacking over the schoolgirl sex incident in Port Macquarie. The Canterbury pair were deregistered by the NRL for bringing schoolgirls back to the team hotel during the club's pre-season trip to the mid-north coast in February.

Read report



Governance, Integrity - Sport Australia releases Whistleblower policy template

Sport Australia has released a 'Whistleblower policy template' and recommendations on how sporting organisations can comply with the recently updated whistleblower obligations under Part 9.4 AAA of theCorporations Act

See policy and template documents



Governance, Commercial - AFL: Clubs borrowing from AFL will have to report to league weekly

AFL and club sources have confirmed that those "assisted" clubs – of the 18, at least 10 are expected to need to borrow from the AFL during the COVID 19 crisis – would need to have their budgets approved by the league on a weekly basis.

Read report



Governance, Commercial - Professional sports clubs are counting on the JobKeeper package to save their jobs

The JobKeeper scheme may keep thousands employed in the sport sector. But not all players and administrators will qualify. Sports clubs are trying to find alternative work for employees. For A-League football club Central Coast Mariners, the crisis means transforming itself into a charity with the help of the Government's $130 billion JobKeeper package.

Read report



Governance, Commercial - NRL: NRL for sale? League would consider private investment, says V’landys

V’landys said he would never relinquish a controlling interest in the NRL, although a minority stake could be up for grabs. "It brings a lot of up-front capital, it brings in a lot of money you wouldn't have," he said. "We need to look at all aspects to financially assist the game. We would need to sit down and analyse any proposal. It’s a hypothetical at the moment.

Read report



Governance, Broadcasting - NRL has mismanaged game for years, says Nine in stunning broadside

Rugby league’s long-time broadcast partner Channel Nine has launched a stunning takedown of the NRL, seething about being left out of the planning for the restart of the competition and accusing the governing body of years of mismanagement and wastefulness.

Read report



Governance - Rugby Union: What really killed Super Rugby

Super Rugby as it is now structured is already dead and the weapon that killed it might be the last one that followers of the code might suspect — the cost of international air travel.

Read opinion piece



Governance, Olympic Selection - Shooting: 'We were misled': Shooters take aim at officials over Games selection

An Australian Olympic selection furore has broken out with leading shooters claiming they were misled by the sport’s governing body and their health was put at risk by competing in the final leg of Tokyo qualifying in Sydney last month as the coronavirus crisis deepened.

Read report



Integrity, Anti-Doping, Disputes - National Sports Tribunal application process outlined

NST website update clarifies the application procedure, Tribunal Members, and staff.

See website update



Integrity, Anti-Doping - Australian Rules Football: Sam Gilbert cops two-year ban after doping violation at Sandringham

Former St Kilda player Sam Gilbert has accepted a two-year suspension for an anti-doping violation that occurred in 2019, when he was off St Kilda's list and playing for Sandringham in the VFL. The 33-year-old tested positive for cocaine metabolite benzoylecgonine on match day after playing for Sandringham in May last year and has been serving a provisional suspension since June 6, 2019.

Read report



Integrity - The Psychology of Cheating at Sport 

Insights into the motivations behind cheating in sports, presented by Professor Jack Anderson at the 38th Asian Racing Conference, South Africa, 2020.

View video



Broadcasting - Foxtel cuts 200 jobs, stands down 140 more

Government shutdowns amid the coronavirus pandemic in Australia have forced Foxtel to cut 200 jobs and stand down a further 140 until June 30. Sporting codes, including the AFL, NRL and rugby union have suspended their season, and the advertising market across media has dived. The government restrictions on public gatherings force the sports to suspend their season, with sport being a major driver of subscriber and advertising revenue.

Read report



Major Events, Fan Engagement - TEG Live to refund over $5 million to consumers for USA basketball games

TEG Live Pty Limited (TEG Live) has committed to refunding over $5 million to about 5000 consumers who bought approximately 20,000 tickets to watch basketball games featuring the USA men’s national basketball team in August 2019, after providing a court-enforceable undertaking to the ACCC.

Read ACCC statement



Major Events, Commercial - What does coronavirus mean for upcoming international sports events in Australia?

Even if government funding remains in place there are question marks over sponsorship dollars.

Read report



Commercial - Israel Folau payout at risk as Rugby Australia reels from Covid-19

Should RA be forced to declare itself insolvent, Folau would become an unsecured creditor and depending on its assets, he would likely be paid out only a few cents in the dollar.

Read report



Commercial - How sports and sponsorship can rebound after Coronavirus

With global sport more or less grinding to a halt in the last month, brands have been forced to reassess the role of sponsorships. In this opinion piece, 'BenchVote' founder Adam Mussa shares his thoughts on how the outbreak will change sports sponsorships.

Read opinion piece



Commercial, Gaming, Esports - Supercars: McLaughlin takes 1st Eseries win

The inaugural round of the Supercars All-Stars Eseries has been run and won, with the Shell V-Power Racing Team having a very successful run at both the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit and Monza Eni Circuit. 

Read report



Sports Betting - Tabcorp stands down 700 staff as sport hiatus bites into betting

Australia's largest gambling company Tabcorp (ASX: TAH) has taken a battering from the cancellation of major sporting events and the shutdown of licensed venues and TAB agencies where so many of its clients like to take a punt.

Read report



Future of Sport - Sport in Australia will survive Covid-19 but its importance will be diminished

Whatever happens on the far side, professional sport can’t come back pretending it’s as important as when it left. We’ve seen a world without it.

Read opinion piece





GLOBAL


Governance, Integrity, Corruption - FIFA: U.S. Says FIFA Officials Were Bribed to Award World Cups to Russia and Qatar

For nearly a decade, Russia and Qatar have been suspected of buying votes to win hosting rights for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. On Monday, for the first time, the Department of Justice put things in black and white.

Read report


World Cup likely to stay in Qatar despite new bribery accusations in US

The 2022 World Cup is highly unlikely to be moved from Qatar despite the latest criminal indictment by the US Department of Justice accusing three senior Fifa officials of receiving bribes for voting in favour of the Gulf state hosting the tournament.

Read report


World Cup TV Rights, Host Vote Bribes Back in Focus in Fresh FIFA Scandal Indictments

It had been a while since the DOJ indicted officials connected with the wide-ranging FIFA scandal, but Monday's developments have re-opened the wound. Here's who is involved and what it means for the case as a whole.

Read report



Governance, Integrity - Weightlifting: Interim President requests Aján to be excluded

Since the end of January, Tamás Aján has not been allowed to run the official business alone as President of the World Weightlifting Association. He apparently did it anyway - in a rude way. Interim President Ursula Papandrea is therefore now facing the ultimate power struggle.

Read report (in German)



Governance, Integrity, Ethics - Athletics: UKA head pledges to hand over Salazar-Farah report and seeks 'ethical success'

The new head of UK Athletics, Joanna Coates, has said any employee who does not share her vision for “ethical success” will lose their job, and there are “definite plans” to hand over a 2015 internal report into Alberto Salazar’s relationship with Mo Farah.

Read report



Governance, Integrity, Anti-Doping - Athletics: He Showed That The Head Of A WADA Lab Provided False Testimony Against Him

The amazing story of how Jarrion Lawson cleared his name.

Read report



Governance, Integrity, Esports - Bookmakers suspend betting after NBA 2K20 results leaked online

Online bookmakers, already hit by the stoppage of live sports due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, suffered a further setback when the results of an NBA 2K20 video game tournament were leaked online. The tournament features 16 current NBA players, seeded according to their past performance playing the game, battling one another from the comfort of their homes. But despite the first-round games appearing to be played live when they were broadcast on ESPN and ESPN 2, they were actually pre-recorded.

Read report



Governance, Player Relations - Football/Soccer: Southampton squad have agreed to defer part of their salaries.

The board of directors, the first-team manager, his coaching staff and the first-team squad have agreed to defer part of their salaries for the months of April, May and June to help protect the future of the club, the staff that work within it, and the community.

Read club statement



Governance, Player Relations - Football/Soccer: Premier League Clubs and Players Are at War. Both Are Losing.

For three weeks, the world’s richest soccer league has been consumed by a debate over whether players, or clubs, should bear the cost of the coronavirus crisis. It has turned so toxic the schism may be hard to heal.

Read report



Governance, Player Relations - NBA: Escrow Battle Over Player Salaries Has Only Just Begun

While players were paid in full on April 1, the league is lobbying to withhold 50 percent of players' pay beginning April 15. The NBPA instead proposed withholding 25 percent of pay beginning May 15.

Read report



Governance, Major Events - UFC: UFC 249 Canceled, Future Events Postponed Indefinitely

UFC 249 has been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, with all future events postponed indefinitely. Dana White was reportedly ordered to "stand down" by top Disney and ESPN executives.

Read report



Governance, Major Events - Olympian Wickenheiser reveals how she was criticised by IOC over comments calling for Tokyo 2020 postponement

Four-time Olympic ice hockey gold medallist Hayley Wickenheiser has spoken out over how she was criticised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) after she called the governing body "irresponsible" last month over its handling of the process to postpone Tokyo 2020.

Read report



Governance - Football/Soccer: Scottish Premiership clubs expected to back abandonment and give Celtic title

A meeting between the league’s board and clubs on Wednesday resulted in the recommendation of a resolution for a vote in each of the four divisions on whether to end their season as it stands, with places allocated on an average points-per-game basis.

Nine of the 12 Premiership clubs would need to vote in favour, and the SPFL, having canvassed opinion, is understood to be fully confident of it passing. Votes will be collated before the start of next week.

Read report



Integrity, Anti-Doping - Athletes who dope before postponed Olympics risk ban from Tokyo 2020 and Paris 2024, warn AIU

The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) has warned competitors who attempt to cheat in the lead-up to Tokyo 2020 - postponed until July 23 to August 8, 2021 - that they could miss two consecutive editions of the Games if they are caught as first-instance doping offences carry a maximum ban of four years.

Read report



Concussion - Rugby Union: Teenager who will never play again after blow to head calls for two-man tackles to be banned

Two weeks ago, Charlie Jacklin read an article about concussion in The Sunday Times. He was struck by the line that fundamental tackle law changes, piloted in the fourth tier of French rugby this season, had achieved a 60 per cent reduction in head injuries. Never before had Jacklin felt inclined to write to a newspaper. Now was the time.

Read report



Copyright, Gaming - Judge Rules in Favor of 'NBA 2K' Creators in Case Brought by Tattoo Artists

The tattoo artists whose designs appear in NBA 2K aren't paid as part of the licensing agreement between the company that produces the video game series and the NBA. Should they have been? The depiction of those tattoos in video games has become a unique controversy impacting both the sports and gaming communities.

Read report



Disputes, Major Events, Fan Engagement - Golf: Tiger Woods sued by Florida man claiming he was pushed at tournament

A Florida man has filed a lawsuit against Tiger Woods and his caddie, claiming he suffered injuries from the caddie pushing him out of the way during the Valspar Championship that Woods played two years ago. The civil complaint, filed Tuesday in Pinellas County, alleges Brian Borruso tried to take a selfie as Woods approached his tee shot left of the 13th green in the third round at Innisbrook, and that Joe LaCava intentionally shoved Borruso and caused him to stumble and fall into the crowd.

Read report



Commercial - Contracting in the age of Coronavirus

One by one as sporting events and seasons were cancelled and postponed the coronavirus pandemic became “real” to Americans.  And what became real to Sports Lawyers are the innumerable amount of contracts that relate to these events.  Advertising, Sponsorship, Employment, Rental . . . .  The list goes on and on.  Companies are now trying to determine what their responsibilities are under existing contracts. 

Read blog post



Commercial - Football/soccer agent doesn't get contract law

"For players there are several reasons why wage reductions are not acceptable. One reason is the principle of contractual stability. This is one of the essential foundations of modern football and ensures that contracts are respected by both parties to the fullest extent possible. This principle of contractual stability separates the situation of a football player from that of any other worker."

Read opinion piece



Commercial - F1 'Expected' To Drive Up Its Loans To Pay Teams

Formula One is on track to boost its borrowings and draw on its $402 million cash reserves in order to pay its ten teams and cover its overheads if its 2020 season gets the red light due to the coronavirus pandemic according to credit rating agency Moody's.

Read report



Commercial - F1: Canadian Food Tycoon Rescues Struggling Formula 1 Team

An ailing Formula 1 team, Williams Formula 1, has won a lifeline with the help of Canadian food processing tycoon Michael Latifi at a time when the coronavirus pandemic has virtually shutdown the sport.

Read report



Commercial - Wrestling: Is WWE Changing its Monetization Strategy?

WWE is assuming all of the financial risk when it comes to their PPV business. With a monthly subscription service, where the subscriber can cancel in a matter of seconds, losses immediately trickle down to the bottom line. The company would eliminate much of the volatility in earnings and could generate much more - and secure - revenue by returning to a wholesale model.

Read report



Commercial, Gaming, Esports - Motor Sport: NASCAR iRacing has become the hottest new esport. An FAQ on how it struck gold

Two weeks in, NASCAR and iRacing have toppled even the most optimistic expectations with their nationally televised virtual races, which have averaged more than a million viewers. The third edition of the eNASCAR series takes place Sunday, when drivers will log online to square off in a simulation at Bristol Motor Speedway. Here’s a primer to catch you up on the sports surprise of the spring:

Read report



Commercial, Gaming, Esports - Triathlon: Super League Triathlon enlists top athletes to compete in Zwift Classics

Super League Triathlon has made a foray into the world of esports and enlisted leading athletes such as double Olympic champion Alistair Brownlee and reigning Super League champion Vincent Luis to take part in the online Zwift Classics series. Their squad will take on professional cycling teams like SEG Racing and Ribble-Weldtite on Zwift — an online racing platform where cyclists and runners can compete from the comfort of their homes via an exercise bike or a treadmill.

Read report






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Contact us to discuss these issues further and how they may apply to your sport, or email Mat Jessep at: mat @ wegotgame.com.au


Many thanks, as always, to Prof. Jack Anderson for continually bringing important sports law topics, from near and far, and brilliant insights and analysis to our attention.



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