Sports Law Ledger - Monday 20 July 2020


(Image copyright 'The Mail on Sunday'/Getty Images)



Catchup on some of the latest sports law and integrity updates from Australia, New Zealand & around the world (copyright remains the property of respective owners):





AUSTRALIA & NEW ZEALAND



Integrity - Rugby League: Appeals committee to determine fate of NRL's biggest manager

The future of Isaac Moses will be determined by the NRL appeals committee next month after the powerful player agent was granted leave to appeal his deregistration. NRL appeals committee chief and High Court Justice Ian Callinan determined that Moses had sufficient grounds to proceed to a de novo hearing, at which witnesses can be called and evidence tested.

Read report



Integrity - Rugby League: Bulldogs pair get back pay as bans lifted over schoolgirl sex scandal

Bulldogs players Corey Harawira-Naera and Jayden Okunbor will be owed tens of thousands of dollars, and are free to resurrect their NRL careers, under a ruling from an independent body which left the governing body "disappointed".

Read report



Integrity - Rugby League: Dragons to ask NRL to review no-fault stand-down policy

St George Illawarra will approach the NRL in the coming weeks to ask the governing body to reconsider its position on Jack de Belin and how the no-fault stand down policy is applied. The Dragons are hopeful the NRL will at least give consideration to allowing De Belin to play in 2020 as the lock forward’s time out of the game goes past 18 months.

Read more



Ethics - Sports rorts: Queensland club with no adult women's team given grant for female change-room

Redcliffe Dolphins rugby league club received a $500,000 community sport infrastructure grant (CSIG) for female facilities, despite not offering women’s teams above the under 12s division. According to a leaked version of Sport Australia’s assessment, the project in the Queensland marginal seat of Petrie received a score of 65, below the cut-off of 74.

Read report



Governance - Equestrian: Liquidation of Equestrian Australia avoided as creditors approve reform

Equestrian Australia will live to ride another day, as the embattled body narrowly avoided going into liquidation on Tuesday after its creditors voted to support administrator KordaMentha’s proposal to reform the sport. They agreed the administrators’ proposal, endorsed by Sport Australia, the Australian Olympic Committee and the international equestrian body, was the organisation’s best shot at having funding reinstated.

Read report



Governance - Olympic Sports: Overgoverned and underfunded - the bind strangling Olympic sports

Outdated corporate governance in many of the key sports where Australia has won Olympic gold medals has resulted in excessive amounts spent on state and federal administration and has undermined revenue-raising opportunities.

Read report



Governance - Olympic Sports: John Coates re-elected as IOC vice-president

John Coates has rejoined the influential executive board of the International Olympic Committee for a four-year period that will overlap with the process to select the host of the 2032 Summer Olympic Games. Mr Coates' re-election as IOC vice-president marks his final stint on the 104-member body, as well as his last on the global sporting organisation's peak decision-making group of 15.

Read report



Governance, League Management - Rugby Union: New Zealand Rugby ditches SANZAAR: Australia, South Africa respond

Two of New Zealand's closest rivals have responded to their decision to part ways with Sanzaar, in the hope of establishing a new Super Rugby competition. NZR has revealed plans to ditch the current tournament structure - as well as the governing body - from 2021, following the three-month Aratipu review.

Read report



Governance, League Management - Rugby Union: Australia to stand firm on five Super teams

The Rugby Australia board will meet on Monday and New Zealand's Super Rugby invitation is high on the agenda.

Read report



Governance, Commercial - Rugby League: NRL in talks about potential $1 billion equity deal

The NRL has begun due diligence on a bid by private investors to take a stake in the NRL that could bring between $500 million and $1 billion into the game. Melbourne Storm chairman Matt Tripp is helping to facilitate a private-equity bid involving Oakwell Sports Advisory. Significantly, the NRL acknowledged that the opportunity is worth pursuing and has begun a process to examine the feasibility of private investment.

Read report



Governance, Commercial - Cricket: Fresh Cricket Australia grants offer rejected by states

Australian cricket's state associations have knocked back a revised offer for annual grants from Cricket Australia, sending the chairman Earl Eddings and interim chief executive Nick Hockley back to the drawing board in terms of their calculations.

Read report



Governance, Wagering - The regulation of fantasy sports in Australia and why law reform is required

Once a niche hobby for the sports-obsessed, fantasy sports have become an increasingly popular form of entertainment. Fantasy sports may give participants a seat in the virtual coaches’ box, but they also present a challenge for the law, just as real as traditional sports betting and online gambling.

Read article



Contracts - Rugby League: Paul Green steps down as Cowboys Coach

Paul Green has parted ways with the NRL's North Queensland Cowboys with 18 months to run on his contract, effective immediately.

Read report



Contracts - Rugby League: Bulldogs and Pay part ways immediately

Dean Pay and the Canterbury Bulldogs have mutually agreed to part ways effective immediately, with the two parties finalising a financial deal to end the club legend's tenure as coach.

Read report



Commercial, Sponsorships - Football/Soccer: Destination NSW announced as new partner for Hyundai A-League 2019/20 Season

The partnership will amplify Destination NSW’s dedicated tourism marketing campaign Love NSW, which encourages people to stay and spend locally in Sydney and NSW.

Read statement



M&A - Cycling: How Gerry Ryan stopped the sale of GreenEdge to Spain

Having left negotiations with the would-be new naming-rights sponsors to the team’s long-time Europe-based general manager Shayne Bannan and financial director Alvaro Crespi, it was only when Gerry Ryan looked at the heads of agreement paperwork between the two parties he realised the deal involved the foundation taking over the licence next year and shipping the team from its home in Italy to the south of Spain.

Read report



Venues - New Zealand’s Eden Park Stadium Set To House New Esports Facility

Guinevere Capital, an investment firm that works within the esports space, has announced plans to open a new esports facility in the Eden Park stadium in New Zealand, the home of the All Blacks. 

Read report





GLOBAL



Integrity, Member Protection - Football/Soccer: CAS confirms the life ban imposed on Keramuddin Karim

CAS has dismissed the appeal of Keramuddin Karim, the former president of the Afghanistan Football Federation who misused his position to sexually harass and abuse female players.

Read CAS media release

Read FIFA media release

Read FIFPro statement



Integrity, Member Protection - Gymnastics: British Gymnastics steps aside from independent review

British Gymnastics has stepped aside from a review into allegations of widespread mistreatment in the sport to "remove any doubt" over the "integrity or independence" of the process. UK Sport and Sport England will now co-commission the independent review aimed at "bringing about positive change".

Read report



Integrity, Member Protection - Winning at all costs : how abuse in sport has become normalised

In high-performance environments, where athletes are fine-tuned to push themselves to physical and mental limits, abuse can go unnoticed or be deemed “what it takes” to reach the highest levels of performance. British gymnasts report that the abuse is so common that it is accepted by athletes, parents and coaches.

Read report



Integrity, Member Protection - Rugby Union: Why World Rugby must suspend Fiji

Rapists turning up at training is chairman’s latest scandal. There are clear grounds today for expelling Fiji from the sport at all levels and we unequivocally call upon World Rugby to do so.

Read report



Integrity, Anti-Doping - Time running out to nail the drugs cheats who shamed London 2012

One hundred and 40 athletes have been disqualified from London 2012, with another 10 doping cases set to emerge from those Games before the end of the month. How many more may have got away with it will never be known.

Read report



Integrity, Anti-Doping - Is this the biggest Olympic scandal of all time?

Over 10 engrossing episodes, Bloodsport examines one of the biggest sporting scandals in history – the doping of the 2012 London Olympics and the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics by the Russian state.

Listen to BBC podcast here



Integrity - Football/Soccer: Man City's away win at CAS over UEFA in bruising Financial Fair Play contest

There was an unexpectedly resounding victory for Manchester City in a ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in the case taken against the club by UEFA and relating to various breaches of UEFA's Financial Fair Play regulations. In football terms, it was a 4-1 defeat for UEFA.

Read report

Read CAS media release



Integrity - Baseball: Astros invoke First Amendment-style law in defense against sign-stealing suit

The Houston Astros have deployed several legal defenses against lawsuits brought by aggrieved season-ticket holders angry over the sign-stealing scandal. But one of the team’s arguments is likely to surprise: that a First Amendment-inspired Texas law, designed in part to protect the media from lawsuits, also insulates the Astros. In fact, the team contends that because it issued press releases on the scandal, which then became the subject of several news stories, the First Amendment-related law nullifies the litigation against the team.

Read report



Integrity - Two arrested over ‘fixing’ of sports stars’ phone records

UK Police have arrested two men and executed a warrant at a premises in Shropshire as part of an investigation into alleged corruption in sport.

Read report



Ethics - Does playing through the pain have to be part of the game?

Painkillers have become part of most footballers' match-day kit and yet they are not on the banned list.

Read report



Athlete Rights - Athletics: Track and field athletes unite to formally establish the independent athletics association and set out their initial objectives

Formed in response to the calls from athletes worldwide for independent representation, the objective of The Athletics Association is to provide Track and Field athletes with a meaningful voice, to fight for stronger athletes’ rights, and to seek an athletes first approach to our sport.

Read Athletes Association statement



Governance - UK: Joint review of Code for Sports Governance

The review will focus on areas that can help promote diversity, draw on experiences from the past three years and use current best practice to shape the new code.

Read media release



Governance - Orienteering: IOF approves statute changes to improve athlete representation and gender balance

The International Orienteering Federation (IOF) has outlined statute changes confirming two athlete representatives are now set to join the IOF Council, with one spot per gender.

Read report



Governance, Athlete Relations - IOC to discuss Rule 50 changes with athletes

Speaking at the 136th IOC session, being held online due to the coronavirus pandemic, Thomas Bach said: "To reconcile these values of free expression on one hand and respect for each other on the other, the IOC Athletes Commission has initiated a dialogue among athletes."

Read report



Governance, Athlete Relations - College Sports: Proposed NCAA NIL Legislation Is A Restrictive First Step for Student-Athletes

According to a summary of the Power 5’s draft, athletes cannot sign endorsement deals until they complete their first semester of college, can be barred from entering into certain NIL ventures and must make public NIL contracts.

Read report

Read summary



Governance, Athlete Relations - Rugby Union: Trans women face potential women’s rugby ban over safety concerns

In a 38-page draft document produced by World Rugby's transgender working group, it is acknowledged that there is likely to be “at least a 20-30% greater risk” of injury when a female player is tackled by someone who has gone through male puberty. The document also says the latest science shows that trans women retain “significant” physical advantages over biological women even after they take medication to lower their testosterone.

Read report



Governance, Athlete Relations - Cycling: Varnish loses appeal against British Cycling employment tribunal verdict

The former Great Britain track cyclist Jess Varnish has lost her employment tribunal appeal against British Cycling, which had threatened to alter the legal rights of elite athletes and the way they are funded by governing bodies.

Read report



Governance, Athlete Relations - American Football: Players plead with NFL to address health, safety concerns

The league informed teams on Saturday that training camps will open on time even though discussions with the players’ union regarding testing for the coronavirus and other health and safety protocols are ongoing.

Read report



Governance, Immigration - Baseball: No Canada: Blue Jays barred from playing games in Toronto

Canada’s government doesn’t think it’s safe for players to travel back and forth from the United States, one of the countries hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic. Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said Saturday the federal government had denied the Blue Jays’ request to play at Rogers Centre.

Read report



Governance, Immigration - Rugby League: Visa issues for Sonny Bill Williams and Co threaten to curtail Toronto Wolfpack's 2020 season

The Canadian club’s seven overseas players - including superstar Sonny Bill Williams - are all on visas that limit them to six months a year in the UK.

Read report



Governance, Competition Management - Football/Soccer: Football Association of Wales relegation case decided

The Football Association of Wales welcomes the positive decision of the High Court of Justice concerning the case brought against the Association by The New Saints FC Limited, in regard to the curtailment of the 2019/20 Cymru Premier season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Read report



Governance, Commercial - Football/Soccer: Priority is to get best price for Wigan Athletic

Administrator has admitted that his search for the best financial deal for the sale of Wigan Athletic would take preference over attempts to bring the club back into local hands.

Read report



Commercial, IP - American Football: Hail to the Pandas? This trademark squatter is betting on that possibility, among others

A trademark squatter has snapped up the rights to eight possible names for a football team from Washington — from the reasonable (Washington Bravehearts) to the unlikely (Washington Pandas) — and he has applied for the rights to eight more. He has spent more than $20,000, he said, on trademark fees and team merchandise.

Read report



Commercial - Motor Sport & Cycling: McLaren ‘evaluating brand fit’ amid reports of professional cycling exit

British luxury carmaker McLaren says it is evaluating its brand in professional cycling amid reports that it is planning to exit the sport barely 18 months after investing in the Bahrain-backed UCI WorldTour team.

Read report



M&A - Rugby Union: CVC seeks coronavirus clauses to complete £300m Six Nations rugby deal

CVC Capital Partners is seeking to add coronavirus clauses to its planned £300m investment in the Six Nations rugby union tournament that will allow the private equity group to withhold funding if the sport is further disrupted by the pandemic.

Read report



Employment, Discrimination - American Football: From dream job to nightmare

Fifteen women who worked for [the National Football League's Washington] Redskins allege sexual harassment by former scouts and members of owner Daniel Snyder’s inner circle.

Read report



Employment, Discrimination - American Football: Snyder hires firm to review NFL team's culture

Owner Dan Snyder has hired a District of Columbia law firm to review the Washington NFL team’s culture, policies and allegations of workplace misconduct. Beth Wilkinson of Wilkinson Walsh LLP confirmed to the Associated Press on Thursday that the firm had been retained to conduct an independent review.

Read report



Major Events - WTA Finals in doubt as China cancels 2020 international events

The order from the country’s General Administration of Sports affects at least six Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) events, including the WTA Finals in Shenzhen this November. Four Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) tournaments in China also now face being axed.

Read report







Need legal support, but not the ongoing headcount and expense? Check out our range of Outsourced In-house Counsel retainer plans.



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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