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Sports Law Ledger - Monday 25 May 2020

Updated: May 25, 2020

‪Catchup on the latest sports law, integrity, and commercial news, updates, and alerts:


Return to Sport

Sport Australia has developed a Return to Sport Toolkit that includes a suite of resources to help sporting organisations get ready to recommence training, competitions and programs in a safe, responsible and low risk manner.

Download the Toolkit

Return to Sport

A possible return to play is being carefully planned for by members of the Coalition of Major Professional and Participation Sports (COMPPS) in collaboration with many health experts, government bodies, and other stakeholders.

Read COMPPS statement

Return to Sport

Uncertainty facing community sport flagged as a 'big issue' for Australia. A drop in participation rates, club closures and further financial hardship are just some of the challenges facing community sport as millions of Australians prepare to return to the training track with their local clubs.

Read report

Integrity - National Sport Integrity Forum 2020, 26 May 2020, 3:30pm

Join a livestream of the fifth National Sport Integrity Forum to hear sports development leaders discussing the opportunities and challenges in returning to sport after COVID-19.

Register here

Integrity - Rugby League: Cody Walker and South Sydney Rabbitohs issued breach notices by NRL

The NRL issued Cody Walker with a breach notice which alleges he brought the game into disrepute when he intervened in a street fight in Casino, NSW in late 2019.  The NRL also issued the South Sydney Rabbitohs with a breach notice in relation to an alleged failure to promptly disclose the incident involving Walker. 

Read NRL statement

Integrity - Rugby League: The code of conduct clause that could sink Wayne Bennett

Flick through the NRL code of conduct and you quickly arrive at section 16. The section concerns itself with breaches of the rules and it may yet be the undoing of South Sydney and Wayne Bennett as they prepare for a verdict from the NRL over the coach’s handling of an incident involving Cody Walker late last year. Section 16 states that any club or person who reasonably suspects that a breach of the rules has occurred is duty-bound to report the suspected breach to the NRL integrity unit as soon as possible.

Read report

Integrity - Rugby League: Police conduct raids into Dally M sting

Two homes and a business were raided in Sydney on Wednesday as NSW Police continue investigations into an alleged betting sting at the NRL's 2019 Dally M Awards. NSW Police have confirmed documents, electronic devices and computers were seized as part of the investigation by Strike Force Mirrabei.

Read report

Integrity, Sports Betting - Racing: Jockey Ben Melham pleads not guilty to betting charges

Ben Melham will be free to ride for another eight weeks after pleading not guilty to betting-related charges at a Victorian Racing Tribunal directions hearing on Tuesday. The group 1-winning jockey is facing seven charges in total including allegations he bet on horses he was booked to ride, as well as making 20 bets totalling $14,600 on thoroughbred races after initially depositing $3000 into his partner Karlie Dales' betting account at a hotel while he was out injured.

Read report

Governance - Cricket: Cricket Australia moved too early on cuts, say NSW officials

The widening gulf between Cricket Australia and the country’s most powerful state association has been exposed with NSW officials saying they do not believe grants from head office should be slashed unless India do not tour this summer. The news comes as a reduction in the length of the Women's Big Bash League looks set to be avoided after CA confirmed the most likely scenario was for a full season to be played.

Read report

Governance, Athlete Relations - From spit to scrums. How can sports players minimise their coronavirus risk?

As we emerge from lockdown, so does our sport. And many sporting bodies are grappling with the best way to do this while protecting their players, staff and fans from the coronavirus.

Read report

Governance, Athlete Relations - Rugby Union: Izack Rodda, Harry Hockings and Isaac Lucas Released

Rugby Australia and the Queensland Rugby Union (QRU) have released Queensland Reds players Izack Rodda, Harry Hockings, and Isaac Lucas. The decision comes after the three players elected to pursue termination of their contracts after being stood down by the QRU on Monday.

Read Qld Reds Statement

Governance, Disputes - Rugby League: Single referee system to proceed but on a trial basis

The Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) and the Professional Rugby League Match Officials (PRLMO) today reached an agreement to resolve its dispute ahead of the resumption of the 2020 NRL competition on May 28.

Read PRLMO statement

Governance, Commercial - Football/Soccer: Clubs unwilling to sell A-League stake to private equity firm

A-League club owners are unwilling to sell a stake in the competition to a global sports management firm, saying they have not spoken about raising investment through a private third-party ownership model. Football Federation Australia was looking to raise capital by selling off as much as 51 per cent of the A-League to a private company after talks with two international firms, New York-based IMG and Japanese international advertising firm Dentsu.

Read report

Athlete Relations, Migration - Visa green light: AFL's Irish players get approval to jet back in

Six players in Ireland will return to Australia this weekend to resume their AFL careers after winning visa approval to re-enter the country. 

Read report

Commercial - ACCC to 'monitor' sporting teams as AFL clubs begin to offer refunds to fans

Australia's consumer watchdog says it will be watching closely as AFL clubs start offering to refund their members, who will likely be locked out of live games for the rest of the season. It comes as the Port Adelaide football club confirmed it will offer both full and partial refunds of membership fees to fans.

Read report

Commercial - Coronavirus has cancelled major events and it may be a while before we are ready to return to crowds

As restrictions ease and we make our way back to pubs, restaurants and public spaces, there are still many factors at play before we get back to our regular calendar of big events. One of the biggest hurdles to getting back in a crowd could be psychological.

Read report

Discrimination - Same-sex and gender diverse young people turned away from sport: report

A Western Sydney University study found that young LGBTIQ+ people have had largely negative experiences in sport - but that they still want to be included.

Read report

Major Events - Queensland bid for 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games "on hold" over coronavirus

The Queensland Government has placed its bid to host the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games - headlined by Brisbane - on hold because of the coronavirus crisis, with the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) endorsing the move.

Read report

Major Events - Coronavirus means Australia's major events industry will never be the same again

Industry insiders fear it will be early next year before the multi-billion-dollar industry can start to revive. It's estimated cancellations of both major events and business events will account for a $35 billion loss to the economy in 12 months and more than 92,000 jobs.

Read report


Integrity - Impeachment proceedings launched against Swiss Attorney General Lauber over Infantino meetings

The Swiss Parliament's Judicial Committee launched proceedings after questioning Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber on his handling of the investigation of corruption involving world football's governing body, including holding informal meetings with FIFA President Gianni Infantino

Read report

Integrity, Esports - Formula E driver Daniel Abt disqualified and fined for cheating with a ring-in during virtual race

Audi Formula E driver Daniel Abt has been found guilty of sporting misconduct for getting a professional gamer to compete under his name in an official eSport race. The German, who apologised for "having called in outside help", was disqualified, ordered to pay 10,000 euros ($16,680) to charity, and stripped of all points in the Race at Home Challenge, which features drivers using simulators remotely.

Read report

Integrity, Sports Betting - Football/Soccer: Kieran Trippier will not answer FA betting charges until end of June

Kieran Trippier has been granted an extension until June 26 to respond to charges that he breached FA betting regulations. The Atletico Madrid and England right back made the request to the chairman of an independent regulatory commission’s judicial panel having originally had until last Monday to answer the misconduct charge.

Read report

Integrity, Member Protection - Gymnasts Push for Lasting Change After a Coach Is Suspended for Abuse

When Maggie Haney, the prominent coach of an Olympian, was barred for eight years after being accused of emotional abuse, gymnasts saw an opening to press for other cases to go forward and to demand broader change.

Read report

Integrity, Commercial - Boxing: MTK Global partners with sports firm advised by Kinahan

Boxing firm MTK Global has announced a partnership with a Middle East sports company whose special adviser is crime boss Daniel Kinahan. Its association with KHK Sports - backed by the Bahrain Royal family - comes after several efforts by MTK to distance itself from Kinahan.

Read report

Ethics - NFL owners make changes to enhance diversity on many levels

Changes designed to enhance opportunities for minorities to get executive, head coaching and coordinator positions were passed Tuesday by NFL owners. They include addendums to the Rooney Rule, which has fallen short in its goal of increasing diversity in the league.

Read report

Governance - U.S. to exempt foreign athletes from coronavirus-related entry bans

The United States will exempt some foreign athletes who compete in professional sporting events in the United States from entry bans imposed because of the novel coronavirus epidemic, acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf said on Friday. “In today’s environment, Americans need their sports. It’s time to reopen the economy and it’s time we get our professional athletes back to work,” Wolf said in a statement issued by the department announcing he had signed an order for the exemption.

Read report

Governance - Basketball: The NBA is in discussions with Disney over a potential season restart at the company's Florida complex

The National Basketball Players Association is also part of the talks with Disney.

Games would be held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, a massive campus on the Disney property near Orlando.

Read report

Governance - Rugby Union: Agustin Pichot claims he was betrayed by Rugby Africa president in World Rugby chairman vote

Agustin Pichot has accused Rugby Africa president Khaled Babbou of costing him the World Rugby chairmanship in an extraordinary personal attack. Pichot lost the election against incumbent Bill Beaumont by 28 votes to 23. In an interview with Argentinean television, Pichot suggests that Babbou switched his vote at the last moment hinting that he may have been swayed by illicit promises by his opponent’s camp.

Read report

Governance - Cricket: ICC issues guidelines for resumption of cricket

"ICC Back to Cricket Guidelines” is a comprehensive document developed by the ICC Medical Advisory Committee in consultation with Member Medical Representatives, and provides guidance for the safe resumption of community cricket, domestic professional cricket and international cricket.

Read guidelines

Governance, Athlete Relations - Ninth Circuit Upholds That NCAA Violates Antitrust Law; Judge Describes College Sports As A ‘Cartel’

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued an important ruling in the NCAA Grant-In-Aid Cap Litigation case, unanimously upholding an earlier court finding that the NCAA rules limiting college athletes’ education-related benefits violate Section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act.

Read report

Governance, Athlete Relations - The inadequate maternity rights and childcare provision for England's top athletes

Competing for your country can come at a price, but Britain can learn lessons from America, Australia, and New Zealand. Of all the English professional national teams, the England Cricket Board is the only governing body to provide evidence of a bespoke maternity policy.

Read report

Governance, Athlete Relations - Cricket: Global cricketers’ union says ICC should use crisis to bring major changes to the international game

The global cricketers’ union has called on countries and the International Cricket Council to use the Covid-19 ­crisis to bring about major changes to the schedule and economics of the world game. “This is an opportunity for the game to look at its economics and how ­revenue is distributed at global level,” said Tom Moffat, the chief executive of Fica, the global players’ union.

Read report

Governance, Athlete Relations - Ex-cyclist's hearing 'should not fear Bosman ruling'

Jess Varnish, 29, is appealing after failing to prove she was an employee of British Cycling or funding body UK Sport. The British former cyclist then intends to sue for discrimination after being dropped for the 2016 Rio Olympics. During the initial hearing, British Cycling's lawyer warned "the skies would fall in" should Varnish win. The lawyer argued that it could lead to major changes in the way athletes were funded by governing bodies and UK Sport.

Read report

Governance, Athlete Relations - Football/Soccer: Premier League stars urged not to sign documents that could affect their rights

Brendan Schwab, the chief executive of the World Players' Association (WPA) that supports about 85,000 athletes in 60 countries, has called for more to be done to protect long-term health. 'Signing a document does not manage risk - it just moves the risk somewhere else, we have to be serious here. A month ago we were saying "beware of waivers"'.

Read report

Governance, Athlete Relations - Football/Soccer: Clubs could end contracts of those who refuse to play

Players are contractually required to train and play matches — refusing could be a breach of contract and a disciplinary offence. However, like any employer, clubs have a legal duty of care to provide a safe place for employees. If a player has a reasonable fear about their health and safety, or that a club’s measures are not sufficiently stringent, it could entitle them to refuse to return to training.

Read report

Governance, Athlete Relations, Commercial - Football/Soccer: Salary cap coming? ‘Absurd’ salaries and transfer fees must end, says DFB boss Keller

German football bosses want to see deep reaching financial reforms in the game following the coronavirus pandemic, with Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and DFB president Fritz Keller becoming the latest voices to back the introduction of a salary cap. “We must bring professional football closer to the people again,”

Read report

Governance, Athlete Relations, Disputes - Basketball: Basketball Arbitral Tribunal (BAT) publishes its first award related to the COVID-19 pandemic

BM Slam Stal S.A., a professional basketball club competing in the Polish professional basketball league, Polska Liga Koszykowi S.A., terminated a player without just cause prior to the lockdown and argued before the BAT that any damages payable by it must be reduced because of the lockdown. In line with the BAT COVID-19 Guidelines issued on 20 April, the arbitrator did not accept this argument.

Read BAT Award

Governance, Disputes - Football/Soccer: Lyon, Amiens and Toulouse appeals rejected by French judge

A French judge has rejected appeals by Lyon, Amiens and Toulouse over the decision of the French football league (LFP) to end its season early amid the COVID-19 crisis. The Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 seasons were ended in April after the French Prime Minister announced no sporting events, even those behind closed doors, could take place before September.

Read report

Governance, Commercial - Rugby Union: CVC completes investment into Guinness Pro14

The Guinness PRO14 has confirmed that CVC Capital Partners (through a fund known as CVC Fund VII) has completed its strategic partnership investment into the league, which includes teams from Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Italy and South Africa. Under the agreement, CVC Fund VII will acquire a 28% share of PRO14 Rugby from Celtic Rugby DAC, while the Scottish, Irish, Welsh and Italian Unions, who are the owners of the league, will retain the 72% majority share.

Read report

Governance, Commercial - 'Without Government support sport will take a generation to get back on its feet' - IRFU chief's 'catastrophic' warning

Describing the situation as "catastrophic" across sport, Philip Browne called for Government intervention. "It is not sensationalist to suggest that without Government financial support sport will take a generation to get back on its feet, leaving an enormous void at the heart of communities," he said.

Read report

Governance, Commercial - Motor Sport: F1 teams agree to introduce budget cap from 2021 onwards

Formula One teams have agreed to impose a new budget cap from 2021. After lengthy negotiations, F1 will be decreasing spending on a sliding scale over several years. The cap will be set at $145m (£119m) in 2021, dropping to $140m in 2022, then $135m for 2023–25. A further review will then take place to establish the ceiling for 2026 and beyond.

Read report

Athlete Relations - Rugby Union: World Rugby Player of the Year Pieter-Steph du Toit has withdrawn the contract termination

World Rugby Player of the Year Pieter-Steph du Toit has withdrawn the contract termination notification submitted last week and committed his future to Western Province Rugby. The COVID-19 pandemic, resultant suspension of rugby, 21-day transfer window and impact on player remuneration saw an increased period of uncertainty for rugby in general and has resulted in a number of unintended consequences.

Read club statement

Commercial - Naomi Osaka is the highest-paid female athlete ever

Naomi Osaka was only a year old when Serena Williams won her first Grand Slam title in 1999. Nineteen years later, Osaka beat Williams at the U.S. Open final to win her first Grand Slam. It was one of the most controversial matches in Open history, involving three code violations called against Williams. Now the 22-year-old ace has beaten her legendary rival once again, this time for bragging rights as the highest-paid female athlete in the world.

Read report

Commercial - Global sports sponsorship market expected to fall by $26 billion

The projections are from the latest Two Circles research, which indicates the biggest investor in sports sponsorships, financial services companies, will decrease sponsorship spend by 45 percent, from $19.2 billion in 2019, down to $10.5 billion this year.

Read report

Commercial - Will the "Baseball Rule" Apply to Reopening Movie Theaters and Theme Parks?

What more than a century's worth of lawsuits over foul balls can teach us about placing legal responsibility for COVID-19 injuries. In a pair of cases from 1913 — Crane v. Kansas City Baseball & Exhibition Co. and Wells v. Minneapolis Baseball & Athletic Ass'n — appellate judges in Missouri and Minnesota came to what's now known in tort circles as the "baseball rule." It recognizes that fans attend games with knowledge that they can get beaned by a baseball.

Read report

Commercial - Killer Kicks: the secret in your sneakers

The sneaker industry has tripled in the last 10 years, now accounting for almost half of global footwear sales. They are a fashion phenomenon.

View report

Commercial, Broadcasting - Sports streaming group DAZN seeks cash to help secure future

Online sports group DAZN is racing to secure its financial future, with billionaire owner Len Blavatnik exploring options to raise money for a business hard hit by the pandemic. The London-based company has in recent years spent billions of dollars for the rights to live sporting events, including European football matches and high-profile boxing contests. This was to help build a subscription streaming service dubbed the “Netflix of Sports”.

Read report

Commercial, Esports - NHL Teams Are Utilizing Esports To Keep Fans Engaged During Coronavirus Pandemic

When the National Hockey League suspended play on March 12 due to the coronavirus pandemic, its 31 teams were suddenly confronted with no games, no open arenas, no concession or parking revenue and no obvious, direct way to keep their tens of millions of fans interested and engaged as the world faced months of quarantine and isolation.

Read report

Major Events - IOC's Thomas Bach accepts Tokyo Olympics would have to be cancelled if not held in 2021

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach says he understands why the rescheduled Tokyo 2020 Games would have to be cancelled if it cannot take place next summer. Local organisers have said they have no back-up plan after the event was postponed by a year because of the coronavirus crisis.

View report

Major Events - Pandemic leads to fresh calls for a referendum on Paris 2024

The coronavirus crisis and postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics have led to renewed debate in Paris, the city set to host the following edition of the Summer Games. Several elected officials have this week said the French capital should "rethink" preparations, while one councillor has renewed calls for a referendum on whether or not Paris should host the Games in 2024.

Read report

Major Events - New report reveals Commonwealth Games consistently provides over £1 billion boost for host cities

A new report evaluating the benefits and costs of hosting the Commonwealth Games, which is the largest and most detailed analysis of the event in history, has revealed that staging the competition has consistently provided an economic boost of over £1 billion for previous host cities along with an array of positive social and environmental benefits.

Read report

Professional Development - The International Sports Law Journal, Vol. 20, 2020, Issue 1–2

The International Sports Law Journal(ISLJ) is a quarterly (two double issues, April  and October) peer-reviewed journal in the emerging specialty area of international sports law.  The ISLJ welcomes manuscripts in English language, and maintains an impressive Editorial Board of international experts.

Read journal

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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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