Sports Law Ledger - Monday 16 March 2020

Hello sports law fans,

After what felt like a massive month or so last week for sports, here's a rundown of the latest news, updates, and alerts in our wonderful wide world of sports law:


Governance - Australian Sporting Organisations react to COVID-19

Australian Olympic Committee (AOC)

Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA)

Australian Football League (AFL)

National Rugby League (NRL)

National Basketball League (NBL)

Rugby Australia

Cricket Australia

Netball Australia

Basketball Australia

Football Federation Australia (FFA - incl A-League)

Tennis Australia

Motorsport Australia

Australian Grand Prix Corp


Golf Australia

Swimming Australia

Governance, Contracts, Player Rights - NRL players could face salary cuts during coronavirus crisis

NRL boss Todd Greenberg says players may be asked to take a pay cut as the league grapples with the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

Read report

Governance - Sport & religious freedom

How does sport fit into the religious freedom debate in Australia? Prof Jack Anderson describes how a coalition of major sports is opposing the Government's draft Religious Discrimination Bill, arguing that they can't be both inclusive and protect religious freedom in the way the Bill defines.

Listen here

Read report

Integrity, Anti-Doping - Swimmer Shayna Jack to appeal 4 year ban

Australian swimmer Shayna Jack is heading to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to appeal a four-year ban recommended by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority's (ASADA) rule violation panel. It is possible a CAS appeal hearing could be held by mid to late April.

Read report

Commercial, Venues - Stadiums are emptying out globally. So why have Australian sports been so slow to act?

For a global industry built on live entertainment and big crowds, the continued spread of COVID-19 could be disastrous for international sports events. Australia’s sports leagues and teams are not immune, though in recent days, it would be hard to tell.

Read report

Integrity, Sports Betting - NSW Police investigating 2019 NRL Dally M Award

Police are investigating suspicious betting on one of the major awards in last year's Dally M Medal ceremony. The Sydney Morning Herald can reveal the NRL had asked police to probe wagering trends on the Dally M Coach of the Year, won by Melbourne's Craig Bellamy.

Read report

Participation - Sports clubs accused of pricing families out of local competitions after charging thousands of dollars in fees

According to Sport Australia, in lower socio-economic areas 60 per cent of families are relying on government assistance to help pay registration costs. A recent Sport Australia survey found the average amount spent nationally was $783.78 per child — a cost some families said they could not afford.

Read report

Governance - Rugby League Coaches Association (RLCA) forms

A new Rugby League Coaches Association (RLCA) has been formed under Chairman, Kangaroos Coach Mal Meninga, and CEO Kelly Egan. The Association aims to give coaches across the game a mechanism for support and professional development, commencing with the NRL fullt-ime coaching and pathways staff and eventually incorporating other levels.

Read release

Disputes - AFL Clubs seek legal advice on membership obligations if coronavirus forces fans out

Although clubs are maintaining the position that games will go ahead as planned at this stage, they are working away in the background to determine their obligations to those who have paid for memberships if they are unable to attend games.

Read report

Integrity, Player Conduct - NRL Canterbury Bulldogs suspend two players over 'serious' code of conduct breach

Bulldogs CEO Andrew Hill said two players brought "two young females" back to their hotel room during a pre-season trip to Port Macquarie, breaching the club's and the NRL's code of conduct.

Read report

The NRL's long-term gender adviser has said some players may well be "education-proof", following a "horror stretch" of off-field incidents.

Read report

Governance, Diversity - Rugby slammed over board make-up

Leading sports and business figures have slammed the lack of diversity on Rugby Australia's board after the most recent round of nominations failed to include a woman. Supercars chairman Peter Wiggs, former Wallaby Daniel Herbert and ex-Virgin Australia boss Brett Godfrey are set to join the board at the end of the month after being put forward by nominations committee members John Sharp, Daryl McDonough and Mark L'Huillier.

Read report

Ethics - Cricket council meeting to hear push for ethics commissioner

The Australian Cricket Council, established after the Longstaff review into the ethics and culture of Australian cricket, will gather on Monday where an ethics commissioner, next summer's fixture and a review of the Big Bash League are expected to discussed, either formally or informally.

Read report

Ethics - Sports rorts: Scott Morrison sidesteps question about late changes to spreadsheet

Scott Morrison has sidestepped a question about whether changes to a spreadsheet of sports grants on 10 and 11 April last year – including a change sought by his own office – were made with proper legal authority.

Read report


Governance - Global Sports react to COVID-19

Super Rugby (SANZAR)

Six Nations Rugby Championship

World Rugby Sevens Series

Global Rapid Rugby

National Basketball Association (NBA)

Major League Baseball (MLB)

Women's Tennis Association (WTA)

Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP)

Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA)

Premier League


Major League Soccer (MLS)

Formula 1



Commercial - The Financial Blow of the Coronavirus on Sports

For the first time in nearly two decades, the [US]$160 billion sports world has gone dark.

The ramifications of canceling or postponing play are wide-ranging, from mundane considerations about competition to potentially serious financial consequences for athletes, teams, leagues and organizations, and the tens of thousands of people who work at sporting events.

Read report

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Governance, Player Relations - NFL players voted to ratify the new CBA

The new CBA will take effect starting in 2021 and will run until 2030. For the proposed deal to go through, a simple majority of the players need to vote "yes." The final vote was 1,019 to 959, the NFLPA released in a statement. There are roughly 2,500 players in the players union, so an estimated 79.1% of the players voted on the CBA.

Read NFLPA statement

Read NFL report

Read report

Integrity, Ethics, Discrimination - How U.S. Soccer President's Resignation Alters USWNT's Equal Pay Case

With Carlos Cordeiro stepping down, the federation and women's national team players could become more likely, after everything, to settle out of court, for a number of reasons.

Read report

Integrity, Anti-Doping - Tyson Fury could face fresh Ukad investigation over farmer's meat claim

The UK Anti-Doping Agency is poised to launch an investigation into allegations that a member of Tyson Fury’s team offered a farmer £25,000 to provide a false alibi after the heavyweight champion failed a drugs test in 2015.

Read report

Integrity, Corruption - Sri Lankan cricket emerges from shadow of corruption

The last time England toured Sri Lanka the island was in the grip of a damaging match-fixing investigation. Now, 15 months later, Sri Lankan cricket is breathing again without the suffocating presence of fixers and criminals circling around its players.

Read report

Integrity, Discrimination - Caster Semenya says she will switch distances to the 200m in bid to qualify for Tokyo Olympics

South African athlete Caster Semenya says she is switching events to the 200 metres in a bid to run at this year's Tokyo Olympics. The two-time Olympic 800m champion is barred from competing in top-level events from 400m to the mile unless she undergoes treatment to reduce her natural testosterone levels.

Read report

Integrity, Sports Betting - Record £11.6m UK gambling fine meted out to Betway

The online betting firm Betway will pay a record £11.6m settlement for accepting stolen money from high-spending “VIP” customers, some of whom were displaying clear signs of gambling addiction.

Read report

Integrity, Match Fixing - No end in sight as match-fixing menace gains ground in Kenyan football

Cash-strapped Kenyan Premier League clubs and money-hungry players have proven easy prey for match-fixers who lure them with lucrative offers but the national football team is not spared either.

Read report

Integrity, Anti-Doping - Athlete XYZ and the legacy of NZ's biggest steroids investigation

In early 2016, Drug Free Sport NZ launched a landmark investigation into sportspeople buying steroids online. The investigation was meant to enhance the national anti-doping agency's image and underline New Zealand's reputation for taking sports integrity seriously. But DFSNZ's decision to extend its reach into the lower levels of sport also exposed inequities in the system, resulting in widespread criticism, judicial scorn, and calls to curb the powers of the agency.

Read report

Integrity, Discrimination, Ethics - The race to replace the binary of Men's and Women's sports

Are two athletic categories inadequate? Some researchers think the future lies in creating more, while others propose changing competition rules so that everyone can play against each other.

Read report

Integrity, Anti-Doping - 'Widespread, corrupt scheme': US trainers, vets charged over doping

More than two dozen people, including the trainer of champion horse Maximum Security, have been charged.

Read report

Disciplinary - England prop banned for 10 weeks for genital grab

England Rugby forward, Joe Marler, has been banned for 10 weeks. The shortest ban under World Rugby rules for "grabbing, twisting or squeezing the genitals" is 12 weeks, though the commission reduced that by three weeks to take account of mitigating factors, including good character and remorse.

Read report

Disputes - How MLB Can Defend Sign-Stealing Lawsuits From Daily Fantasy Players

A DraftKings contestant is suing MLB, the Astros and Red Sox over the sign-stealing scandal. Here are some arguments MLB might use in the case.

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Contracts - Coronavirus, sport & the law of frustration and force majeure

The decision of the English Premier League, Football League and the Scottish FA to suspend football matches as a result of corona virus is the latest in a series of unprecedented responses to the global pandemic. Nick De Marco QC discusses the legal issues in sport arising from the worldwide health crisis.

Read article

Governance, Player Agents - Mino Raiola - Why all the top agents are trying to change the world of football

Mino Raiola is at war. The agent who represents some of the biggest players in world football – including Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Erling Haaland – is after the biggest scalp of all. He wants to bring down Fifa and, he says, he will stop at nothing to do it.

Read report

Venues - N.B.A. Stars and Owners Say They’ll Cover Workers’ Lost Wages

Some of the N.B.A.’s biggest stars — including Zion Williamson and Giannis Antetokounmpo — and several team owners said they would help cover the lost income of everyday arena employees while the league goes dark for at least 30 days because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Read report

Major Events - US President Trump's "postpone" idea shot down by Japanese Olympics Minister

“The IOC and the organizing committee are not considering cancellation or a postponement — absolutely not at all,” Seiko Hashimoto, an Olympic bronze medalist, told a news conference on Friday in Tokyo.

Read report

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

Contact us to discuss these issues further and how they may apply to your sport.

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