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Sports Law Ledger - Monday 18 May 2020

Updated: May 18, 2020

‪Catchup on the latest news, updates, and alerts in our wonderful wide world of sports law:


Integrity - Rugby League: Cody Walker tells of $20,000 blackmail attempt over fight

The NRL integrity unit will on Monday speak to Cody Walker after the Souths star told police he is being blackmailed. Walker has in recent days informed police he is being blackmailed by a person who says he has video footage of the Souths star kicking a man in a fight in October last year.

Read report

Integrity - Rugby League: Addo-Carr to fight NRL, police fines for social-distancing breach

Josh Addo-Carr is set to contest his Public Health Order fine for breaching coronavirus protocols during a trip to Latrell Mitchell’s farm in a development that could impact on any sanctions the NRL seek to impose upon him.

Read report

Integrity - Rugby League: NRL proposes two-match bans for Cleary and May

Nathan Cleary and Tyrone May accepted the bans on Tuesday after being found to have been untruthful to the NRL Integrity Unit. On Wednesday, NSW Police issued Cleary with a $1000 Penalty Infringement Notice by officers conducting inquiries into the circumstances surrounding a group not complying with Ministerial Directions in Sydney’s west.

Read club statement

Integrity - Australian Rules Football: Don't make it a witch-hunt: Danger on player penalties

Geelong champion Patrick Dangerfield has rallied against a "witch-hunt" for players who breach social distancing laws. The star midfielder and AFL Players' Association president is assisting the union in its talks with the AFL regarding penalties for players who break strict COVID-19 rules as football plans its return.

Read report

Integrity - Australian Rules Football: AFL to invoke 'conduct unbecoming' charge for protocol breach

AFL players and officials who breach the strict quarantine protocols being put in place to enable clubs to return to training and playing could face charges of "conduct unbecoming". At Monday's meeting the AFL Commission ticked off on the the league having the power to use that charge when dealing with any breaches underlining further how serious the AFL views adherence to the rules.

Read report

Integrity, Anti-Doping - Banned swimmer Jack may get to plead her case within a month

Banned swimmer Shayna Jack could have her day in court in just over a month as she prepares to plead her case and try to save her career ahead of a postponed Tokyo Olympic Games. The 21-year-old had a directions hearing on Friday which should set a date for an appearance in front of the Court of Arbitration for Sport. That could be as early as June, with the hearing to be held in front of a sole CAS panelist and potentially via video, depending on COVID-19 restrictions.

Read report

Integrity, Anti-Doping, Athlete's Rights - New ASADA powers at cost of athlete's rights

'The Ticket': Changes to Australian legislation will boost the powers of anti-doping authority, ASADA, while at the same time stripping rights from athletes - such as the right to silence. The bill was withdrawn from the schedule this past week but will be put to the Senate when parliament resumes. The Greens believe at the very least there should be amendments.

Listen here

Integrity - Todd Carney finding his place after footy

Former NRL playmaker Todd Carney catches up with his former coach Matthew Elliott about the lessons learned during his football career and provides unique perspective on off-field indiscretions.

Listen here

Governance - Cricket: Deadlock: States holding firm against Cricket Australia over cuts

An extraordinary stand-off between Cricket Australia and two member states could be headed for arbitration as NSW and Queensland refuse to back down on proposed funding cuts from head office.

Read more

Governance - Rugby League: Secret document from club CEO’s contributed to Todd Greenberg’s demise

A three-page letter, written by club CEOs, which lashes Todd Greenberg’s regime, accuses the NRL of lacking financial transparency and failing to build a war chest to protect the code during the coronavirus crisis. The document is the result of two years of analysis by NRL clubs, which began in 2018. It paints a picture of NRL club disenchantment as they hurtled towards a collision course with Greenberg, who resigned last month after a four-year tenure.

Read report

Governance - Rugby League: NRL's aims may be noble but rule changes leave season without integrity

The ARLC seems to be having an each-way bet. They are banking on continuity by ensuring the two pre-break rounds count but have used the suspension of play to fundamentally alter the nature of the game with the changes.

Read report

Governance - Australian Rules Football: AFL 2020 season will restart on June 11 following coronavirus shutdown

The 2020 AFL season will resume on June 11 with the grand final likely held towards the end of October, the league's boss Gillon McLachlan has announced. McLachlan said from Monday, all clubs would return to training and all AFL clubs would resume full-contact training a week later on May 25, before the premiership season picked up on June 11.

Read report

Governance - Australian Rules Football: Port Adelaide Magpies fans left high and dry by withdrawal from SANFL

Die-hard Port Adelaide Magpie fans are licking their wounds after their team's colours were withdrawn, by AFL decree, from the SANFL for the first time in history. Adding insult to injury was the fact that the AFL made the announcement yesterday, on the 150th anniversary of the state league's most successful team.

Read report

Governance - Football/Soccer: A-League aims for June training return

A-League teams could resume training in June before the competition aims to complete its season in a hub format by the end of August. The league has been suspended since late March but Football Federation Australia (FFA) chief executive James Johnson has emphasised the desire to complete the remaining regular-season games, plus finals.

Read report

Governance, Athlete Relations - Rugby Union: Queensland Rugby Union Stands-Down Izack Rodda, Isaac Lucas and Harry Hockings

The QRU made the decision following notification through the players’ RUPA accredited agent that three of his clients were unwilling to accept a reduction in pay and their nomination for the federal government’s JobKeeper subsidy, notwithstanding RA and RUPA‘s recently negotiated player-payment reduction agreement. The decision has been made with the support of Rugby Australia.

Read statement

Governance, Athlete Relations - Australian Rules Football: ‘Mental anguish’ for AFL players on the brink

Michael Barlow says the COVID-19 crisis has created a recipe for “mental anguish” among hundreds of uncontracted players facing uncertain futures.

Read report

Governance, Athlete Relations - Cricket: Players want get-out clause in CA contracts

With memories of the original MOU dispute three years ago still ringing in their ears, Cricket Australia and the ACA are again preparing to go into battle over contracts and money.

Read report

Governance, Athlete Relations - Rugby League: Bryce Cartwright granted medical exemption from Queensland health officials

Gold Coast Titans player Bryce Cartwright has been granted medical exemption from Queensland health officials to play in the NRL this season without being vaccinated. In a desperate attempt to save his NRL career, Cartwright claimed a past bad reaction to a vaccine was grounds for medical exemption. Queensland’s Chief Medical Officer Jeannette Young granted the 25-year-old exemption from taking the flu jab, and is free to play and train with his club.

Read report

Governance, Disputes - Rugby League: PRLMO lodge dispute with Fair Work Commission

The PRLMO represents the vast majority of NRL match officials, both full time and casuals, and it is their understanding that the NRL do not have the option to change the officiating model during the term of the Agreement, which extends to the end of 2022. The Dispute Notice now forces the NRL to engage in meaningful dialogue with the match officials via the PRLMO, something they have been seeking for weeks since the competition was first suspended.

Read statement

Governance, Commercial - Basketball: NBL Stands Behind Illawarra Hawks Players

The NBL is committed to meeting the outstanding player payments at the Illawarra Hawks after the club was placed in voluntary administration. A total of eight players started receiving the first instalments of their remaining salary and superannuation entitlements last month and all payments will be met in full.

Read statement

Governance, Commercial - Rugby Union: Australia pockets $14 million from World Rugby emergency loan

Rugby Australia boss Rob Clarke says a $14 million emergency relief loan from World Rugby will allow the under-fire organisation to close off its 2019 accounts.

Read more

Governance, Commercial - Lawn Bowls: Coronavirus pushing bowls clubs into a major rethink

The coronavirus shutdown is hoped to provide a chance for many clubs to prepare for the future. Emphasising the lack of contact in lawn bowls could be a major boost for the sport, according to one of the country's finest bowlers.

Read report

Governance, Commercial, Insurance - The potential legal risks of recommencing professional sport in a pandemic ravaged world

As Australia begins to lift lockdown restrictions, attention has turned to the question of when professional and communal sport will be permitted to return, including the resumption of the AFL and NRL competitions. However, an email from the English Premier League Doctors Group has shed light on the potential legal issues associated with lifting restrictions over professional and communal sport. 

Read article

Media Rights - Rugby League: Fox has a long-term deal in place. Nine does not.

Nine and Fox are digging in and their partnership is now far from amicable. Acting NRL boss Andrew Abdo has been left to clean up the mess and had to work hard to get a draw out on Friday. Some big figures have been tossed around but these are the facts: for the next three years, Fox will get about a $100 million discount on its existing deal and Nine will save in the order of $70m. Fox has a long-term deal in place. Nine does not.

Read report

Media Rights - Rugby Union: RA spent $1 million on broadcast strategy

Rugby Australia paid its broadcast rights strategists close to $1m last year but failed to secure a bid for the beleaguered code after rejecting a five-year deal with Fox Sports.

Read report

Commercial - Rugby League: NRL staring at a $250m blackhole

The NRL has finally put a figure on the financial damage caused by COVID-19. In talks with the club bosses this week, it is understood NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo told them the game was budgeting for losses of up to $250 million this season. Last year, the game generated more than $552m in revenue, although that figure included $24m in contra from the broadcasters. That target has been downgraded this season to as little as $280m, although the hope is that with the help of the broadcasters they can push the figure north of $300m.

Read report

Commercial - Football/Soccer: FFA suffers $6m hit after losing major A-League sponsor Hyundai

Cash-strapped Football Federation Australia is set to suffer a further $6 million blow to its bottom line next season after losing major sponsor Hyundai. The Korean car manufacturer will end its 15-year partnership with Australian football after this season's delayed A-League grand final. Hyundai chose not to renew the naming rights deal, which it has held since the league's inception in 2005, leaving FFA in the unenviable position of searching for a new major sponsor in the midst of an economic downturn.

Read report

Commercial, Disputes - Football/Soccer: Families seek thousands in refunds after Barcelona soccer academy closure

Hundreds of families in Sydney and Brisbane have been left upwards of $250,000 out of pocket after the abrupt closure of Spanish soccer club FC Barcelona's two private youth academies in Australia. Parents had forked out for holiday-style travel packages to Spain after their children – some as young as seven – had been "invited" to play in the "Barca Academy World Cup" in April.

Read report

Ethics - Sport Australia fails to identify Bridget McKenzie's legal authority to issue grants

Sport Australia has failed to identify an independent source of Bridget McKenzie’s authority to make $141m in sports grants, suggesting instead the minister piggybacked off its powers to do so. Legal experts have warned that –in addition to constitutional questions– the government has so far failed to identify a legal basis for the sport minister to issue grants.

Read report


Integrity, Anti-Doping - Doping trafficking ring with professional athletes dismantled in Italy

Four traffickers have been arrested, another 64 individuals are under investigation. The operation was a follow-up of a previous investigation into bodybuilders from Turin who were found in possession of a large amount of anabolic drugs, which were advertised on mobile apps.

Read report

Integrity, Anti-Doping - Prevalence of therapeutic use exemptions at the Olympic Games and association with medals: an analysis of data from 2010 to 2018

The number of athletes competing with valid TUEs at Games is <1%. Results suggested that there is no meaningful association between being granted a TUE and the likelihood of winning a medal.

Read report

Integrity, Corruption - Swiss attorney faces possible impeachment over FIFA probe

Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber could become the first high-ranking national official to be impeached over his handling of a FIFA corruption probe, after a key parliamentary committee meeting on Wednesday.

Read report

Integrity - American Football: DeAndre Baker, Quinton Dunbar released on bond following alleged armed robbery

Broward County Judge Michael Davis set Baker's bail at $200,000 Sunday morning — $25,000 for each of the eight counts he faces. Quinton Dunbar was let go on $100,000 bond — $25,000 for each of the four counts he faces. Each were charged with four counts of armed robbery with a firearm, while DeAndre Baker was also charged with an additional four counts of aggravated assault with a firearm.

Read report

Integrity - Football/Soccer: Alexandre Lacazette in hot water with Arsenal after balloon stunt

Alexandre Lacazette faces disciplinary action from Arsenal after footage emerged that appeared to show him inhaling nitrous oxide from a balloon. The club are likely to take a strong line after assessing the images, which were reproduced in newspaper reports on Saturday. Lacazette is pictured with a balloon in his mouth and is quoted as sending text messages to friends saying he is “at home, chilling and doing balloons”. A club spokesman said: “This is a private matter which we are taking seriously. It will be handled internally.”

Read report

Integrity, Governance - Football/Soccer: Premier League clubs fear rivals may lie over Covid-19 testing

Premier League clubs have been told they could face heavy sanctions for serious breaches of new Covid-19 rules amid concerns that the system for testing players could be manipulated. The league’s 20 clubs are on Monday expected to approve the first stage of the return to training protocols, enabling players to work in small groups at training grounds while maintaining social distancing. It will mark the first part of a three-phase process that the league hopes will result in a resumption of matches next month. Central to that process are the coronavirus tests that players and staff will be given twice a week under the management of Hong Kong-based biotechnology firm, Prenetics.

Read report

Governance - Baseball: New MLB rules: shower at home, don’t spit, Mr Met stay away

Major League Baseball will look somewhat like high school ball this year under protocols to deal with the new coronavirus, with showers at ballparks discouraged and players possibly arriving in uniform, like they did when they were teenagers. Team personnel will be banned from eating at restaurants on road trips. Even the Phillie Phantic and Mr. Met will be missing, banned from the field along with all other team mascots.

Read report

Governance - Dr Anthony Fauci explains how coronavirus spreads and how it might affect the return of contact sports

Dr Anthony Fauci, the leading infectious diseases official in the United States, has said that contact sports like the NFL are a "perfect set-up for spreading" COVID-19. Speaking to NBC sports columnist Peter King, Dr Fauci was asked about the coronavirus pandemic, and he went into detail about the way the virus operates.

Read report

Governance - Pound claims financial state of Federations more closely guarded than "nuclear secrets"

International Olympic Committee (IOC) doyen Richard Pound has warned IFs need to "come clean" regarding their actual financial position if they are to receive support from the IOC. Some Summer Olympic IFs publish their accounts and audited statements, but the likes of World Athletics still refuse to do so.

Read report

Governance - UCI reveal new BMX and mountain bike Olympic qualification system

The International Cycling Union (UCI) has approved the new qualification system for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games after they were postponed until 2021 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The system was agreed by UCI's Management Committee, following a meeting with President David Lappartient.

Read report

Governance, Disputes - Football/Soccer: Amiens head to French courts after LFP relegate them ‘unfairly’ to second tier

In a classic example of what sports lawyers have warned could happen when leagues are stopped in the tracks and not completed because of the coronavirus pandemic, Amiens have started legal proceedings for their “unjust” relegation from France’s Ligue 1. The LFP, which runs the top two divisions in French football, decided late last month to call an end to the season with 10 of the 38 scheduled rounds of games still to go.

Read report

Governance, Athlete Relations - Football/Soccer: Premier League restart faces delay after players voice safety concerns

The Premier League is facing the possibility of having to delay its Project Restart after a pair of crucial meetings with players and managers provoked a series of robust exchanges and diverging views. A planned resumption of play on 12 June is now looking less likely, and kick-off a week later is now a possibility after issues over protocols for a safe return to play and concerns over the need for more training came to the fore.

Read more

Governance, Athlete Relations - Football/Soccer: WSL players have mentally 'checked out' and want season to end, says agent

Fears of a stop-start return to action has left many Women’s Super League players mentally “checked out” and desperate for the season to be ended, according to a leading women’s football agent. A&V Sports’ Alan Naigeon believes not knowing the future of the season and mixed messages from clubs have compounded the problems facing the game. “We’re getting to a point where a lot of players are just losing their motivation,” said Naigeon, whose agency represents Ada Hegerberg and Sam Kerr.

Read report

Governance, Athlete Relations - World Players Association says health and safety not negotiable as leagues eye return

The World Players Association has warned athletes could be particularly vulnerable to coronavirus and urged that all proposals for the resumption of sport are "rigorously assessed" by experts, with the health and safety of participants not negotiable. The union represents more 85,000 professional players, with affiliate organisations including football’s player’s union FIFPro and players' associations for the National Football League, National Hockey League, the National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball.

Read report

Governance, Athlete Relations, Disputes - Baseball: Players ask MLB for a slew of financial documents

Lawyers for the baseball players' union asked Major League Baseball to submit a slew of financial documents detailing the industry's finances.

Read report

Athlete Relations, Privacy - High-tech devices help NFL teams keep players safe, in shape

Companies such as WHOOP and Myzone could become game changers even after things return to normal. WHOOP, an online fitness company, partners with the NFLPA to provide wearable monitors for players. Nearly 1,000 players have used the service over the past three years as well as teams from Major League Baseball, the NBA, NFL and Major League Soccer.

Read report

Commercial - Name, image and likeness and the future of college sports

Sports lawyers have legitimate concerns on how athletes are prioritizing their NIL deals over their academics.

Listen here

Major Events, Commercial - IOC expects costs of up to $800 million for delayed Tokyo Games

The International Olympic Committee expects to bear costs of up to $800 million (656.87 million pounds) for its part in the organisation of the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics, now due to be staged next year, IOC President Thomas Bach said on Thursday.

Read report

Major Events, Commercial - A leaked list discloses how much cash the IOC paid for the 2016 Olympics in Rio

For the first time it can be revealed in detail how much cash the IOC paid to an Olympic host. Investigative journalist Jens Weinreich publishes the list of 117 payments to Rio 2016, totalling US$776,743,193.61.

Read report

Broadcasting - Football/Soccer: Premier League clubs facing £340m TV refund even if season resumes

The refund is anticipated as matches are not taking place as expected - both because they will be played without fans and at different times to originally scheduled. Premier League clubs are due to earn a total of £9.2bn from broadcasters for the 2019-22 cycle.

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 @

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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