Sports Law Ledger - Monday 4 May 2020


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



AUSTRALIA


Integrity - Anti-doping boss David Sharpe handed more power, promoted to head up new sport integrity agency

David Sharpe was announced on Sunday as the first chief executive of a powerful new agency called Sport Integrity Australia (SIA), due to begin operations on July 1.

Read report

Integrity, Match Fixing, Esports - Victorian men hit with corruption charges over alleged esports match fixing

Five men have been charged with match-fixing offences as part of the first Australian criminal investigation into esports. Detectives from the Victoria Police Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit charged the men last week with serious offences subject to maximum penalties of 10 years' imprisonment.

Read report



Integrity - NRL Players Sanctioned

The National Rugby League (NRL) has issued players Latrell Mitchell, Josh Addo-Carr, Nathan Cleary and Tyronne Roberts-Davis with breach notices for bringing the game into disrepute. The notices allege that Mitchell, Addo-Carr, Roberts-Davis and Cleary have each shown a blatant disregard for public health orders, guidelines and advice and in doing so have brought significant reputational damage to the NRL.

Read report



Integrity - AFL Players Sanctioned

Fremantle has sanctioned two of the three players involved in a house gathering. Despite the WA Police not charging the three Dockers players investigated for breaching coronavirus restrictions by attending a raucous house party, the Dockers have taken a stance. The club has imposed sanctions on Luke Ryan and Jason Carter, with first-year player Michael Frederick avoiding a fine.

Read Club statement



Governance - AIS Framework for Rebooting Sport

The AIS Framework is a timely tool of minimum baseline of standards, for ‘how’ reintroduction of sport activity will occur in a cautious and methodical manner, based on the best available evidence to optimise athlete and community safety. The principles outlined in this document apply equally to high performance/professional level, community competitive and individual passive (non-contact) sport. Decisions regarding the timing of resumption (the ‘when’) of sporting activity must be made in close consultation with Federal, State/Territory and Local Public Health Authorities. The priority at all times must be to preserve public health, minimising the risk of community transmission.

Read report



Governance - National Cabinet considered and endorsed ‘National Principles for the Resumption of Sport'

The Australian National Cabinet agreed that sport and recreation will play a significant role as Australia emerges from the COVID-19 environment due to the associated health, economic, social and cultural benefits it brings. National Cabinet also agreed that the resumption of sport and recreation activity at any level must not compromise the health of individuals or the community; must be based on objective health information to ensure potential transmission rates are conducive to the safe conduct of sport and recreation; and should only occur where activity-specific, stringent, public and personal health measures are observed, and meeting minimum standards.

Read Principles



Governance - John Coates' AOC power grab would make Putin blush

The AOC’s notice of meeting for its 2020 AGM on May 9 includes a proposed amendment to its constitution to “include provision for a potential Honorary Life President”, a position which “may be conferred upon a person who has served as elected President of the Committee for at least thirteen years”.

Read report



Governance - Cricket Australia boss apologises to angry staff for stand-downs

Cricket Australia chief Kevin Roberts has moved to quell the disillusionment among his workforce, apologising to employees for the sudden stand-downs, as states flagged impending changes of their own.

Read report



Governance - Cricket Australia secure $50m loan and applies for more

Cricket Australia officials have told stakeholders a $50 million loan with the Commonwealth Bank is a "done deal", a development that has triggered fresh questions about the governing body's decision to stand down most of its staff for a saving of $3 million.

Read report



Governance - AFL chief Gillon McLachlan says a June return to play is plausible, and that restart options may not be limited to hubs

AFL chief Gillon McLachlan says there is "more optimism and confidence" that the league will return to play, and games could plausibly resume some time in June. "Queensland have come out last night and said that elite sport effectively can fly in, fly out [to play]," he told afl.com.au.

Read report



Governance - 'Rule the game': Farr-Jones urges Rugby Australia to seize control

Major governance reform is high on the agenda for Australian rugby with former Wallabies captain Nick Farr-Jones revealing he urged senior officials to adopt a model in which Rugby Australia would "rule the game".

Read report



Governance, Integrity, Member Protection - Multiple abuse claims from athletes but even wealthy sports yet to sign up to redress scheme

Sporting organisations can afford to join the national redress scheme for institutional child sexual abuse but have "chosen not to", according to government documents obtained by the ABC. The deadline for signing up to the scheme falls next month and Social Services Minister Anne Ruston has been locked in talks with sporting bodies for the past week.

Read report



Governance, Athlete Relations - 'No perfect solution': the conundrum of selection for a postponed Olympics

There are no guarantees that squads picked in early 2020 will still represent the best possible selections come mid-2021.

Read report



Governance, Athlete Relations - Player contracts loom as hurdle for FFA

The contracts of over 100 A-League players are set to expire before the 2019-20 season recommences.

Read report



Media Rights - Paid in full: FFA receives belated quarterly sum from Fox Sports

The A-League has cleared a major hurdle for the resumption of the season after Football Federation Australia belatedly received its full quarterly payment from Fox Sports.

Football industry sources have confirmed Fox has now paid the near $12 million instalment of its broadcast deal with FFA, which was due mid-last month.

Read report

Media Rights - Foxtel seeks multi-million dollar discount for resumed NRL season

Foxtel want $53 m discount on its $190m in 2020; Nine want a discount of $28m from the $118m it is contracted to pay under the current broadcast deal.

Read report



Media Rights - Nine targets NRL's digital arm as part of revised broadcast deal

Nine Entertainment Co has expressed interest in taking over the NRL’s digital arm as part of cost-cutting measures in a revised broadcast deal. Sources close to the negotiations say Nine’s proposal for an extended deal until the end of 2025 includes the code’s digital arm, led by NRL.com, which the free-to-air network believes currently runs in direct competition with its two broadcast partners.

Read report



Media Rights - Pay what we ask': V'landys sends message to broadcasters as talks heat up

ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys has rejected the argument that the NRL will be a less valuable product to broadcasters without crowds, saying he hopes the game’s two television partners “see reason and pay what we ask" for the rest of the season.

Read report




GLOBAL


Integrity, Anti-Doping - Fresh charges likely as WADA hands over Russia evidence

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) says its investigation into 298 Russian athletes targeted in a doping probe has been completed and the findings passed onto international federations for further action. As a result many could now face new charges, WADA says.

Read report



Integrity, Match Fixing - Spain sentences 9 to prison for fixing a La Liga football match

Former executives, players and businessmen will all spend time behind bars after being convicted of throwing a top flight football game. It's the first time Spain has sentenced people to prison for such crimes.

Read report



Integrity, Member Protection - Olympic Gymnast Recalls Emotional Abuse ‘So Twisted That I Thought It Couldn’t Be Real’

Laurie Hernandez won medals at the 2016 Games. But she said her love of the sport was tainted under training with Maggie Haney, who is now suspended by the sport’s American federation.

Read report



Integrity, Member Protection - Haiti FA president accused of sexually abusing young female footballers

The president of the Haitian football federation has been accused of sexually abusing young female footballers at the country’s national training centre. Yves Jean-Bart, known as “Dadou”, the president of the Fédération Haïtienne De Football (FHF) since 2000, denies accusations.

Read report



Integrity - Fifa takes action after Swiss authorities drop part of Sepp Blatter investigation

Fifa is preparing to press the authorities in Switzerland to prosecute Sepp Blatter for alleged corruption, after the Swiss attorney general dropped part of its investigation despite police reports listing years of apparent gifts and payments provided to the then vice-president, Jack Warner, in return for votes for Blatter in Fifa presidential elections.

Read report



Integrity - FIFA fury over collapse of Germany 2006 World Cup bribery case

In a rare intervention indicative of its frustration verging on anger, FIFA has slammed the collapse of the 2006 World Cup fraud trial in Switzerland that allowed three prominent former German football supremos to escape a verdict.

Read report



Integrity - Israeli bank Hapoalim admits money laundering as part of FIFA scandal

The United States Justice Department announced that the bank, the largest in Israel, had pleaded guilty of conspiring to conceal the origins of $20million (£16million/€18.1million) obtained illegally through bribes and incentives between December 2010 and February 2015, by transferring the money to high-profile figures caught up in the FIFA corruption case, which dates back to 2015.

Read report



Integrity - Alberto Salazar: UK Athletics hands over report into handling of scandal

UK Athletics has handed over the full 2015 report into the handling of the Alberto Salazar scandal to UK Anti-Doping (Ukad) after repeated requests. John Mehrzad QC's review revealed that the report had involved Mo Farah's data being looked at by medical experts. Previously, Ukad had only seen an executive summary of the 2015 report.

Read report



Governance, Disputes, Athlete Relations - Women’s soccer claim of unequal pay tossed, can argue travel

A federal judge threw out the unequal pay claim by players on the U.S. women’s national soccer team in a surprising loss for the defending World Cup champions but allowed their allegation of discriminatory working conditions to go to trial. In a 32-page decision Friday, U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner granted in part a motion for partial summary judgment by the U.S. Soccer Federation. He threw out the Equal Pay Act allegations but left intact the Civil Rights Act claims.

Read report

Read judgement



Governance - New Zealand tell Beaumont: 'Rugby for all, not few'

New Zealand Rugby, who had backed Augustin Pichot, weighed in to remind Bill Beaumont of his global responsibilities. New Zealand Rugby chief Brent Impey said "There is still a level of governance reform that is overdue, and it would be good to see the courage taken to make the decisions needed to ensure the continued sustainability and success of rugby globally –- not just for a limited number of Unions and regions."

Read report



Governance - Vested interests win battle for World Rugby but the sport’s problems remain

With the re-election of Bill Beaumont as the chairman of World Rugby, the sport has missed a chance to modernise.

Read report



Governance - Field Hockey: Batra claims tenure as FIH President has been extended through to June 2021

Narinder Batra has claimed his tenure as President of the International Hockey Federation (FIH) has been extended until at least June 2021 because of the coronavirus crisis.

In comments reported by the Press Trust of India, Batra said the FIH Congress in New Delhi later this year, where elections are due to be held, had been postponed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The FIH has not announced any postponement of the Congress publicly and the event is still listed on the 2020 calendar on its website.

Read report



Governance - Football/Soccer: Premier League must exercise caution in return fraught with lethal hazards

Amid expert advice-taking and scenario-modelling it feels increasingly that calling the season off should be stress-tested.

Read report



Governance - Player agents, executives call for NBA to cancel season

National Basketball Association executives and player agents are calling on the league to cancel the remainder of the 2019-20 season due to health concerns over the novel coronavirus outbreak

Read report



Governance, Athlete Relations, Member Protection - Football/Soccer: Premier League players 'scared' to return, says Aguero

"The majority of players are scared because they have children and families," Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero told Argentine TV station El Chiringuito. "When one person is ill we will think 'oh what's happening here?'" he added. "I hope a vaccine will be found soon so that this all ends."

Read report



Governance, Commercial - USA Rugby pushed to very brink following “absolutely catastrophic” Covid-19 crisis

In court papers, USA Rugby listed $1.13m in assets against $6m in liabilities.  Global governing body World Rugby holds about $3.6m in unsecured claims following a series of seven-figure loans in the past two years, while sole secured creditor JPMorgan Chase Bank has a $467,8290 claim. The remainder of the debt is unsecured credit card and legal bills, hotel and travel expenses, and trade and vendor debt. As a direct result, USA Rugby has been forced to operate with a significantly-reduced staff and budget.

Read report



Governance, Commercial - Board of Governors moves toward allowing student-athlete compensation for endorsements and promotions

While student-athletes would be permitted to identify themselves by sport and school, the use of conference and school logos, trademarks or other involvement would not be allowed. The board emphasized that at no point should a university or college pay student-athletes for name, image and likeness activities.

Read NCAA Statement



Governance, Athlete Relations - NFLPA Executive Committee Member Admits Owners Rushed The Controversial CBA Vote

One of the more perplexing things about the recent Collective Bargaining Agreement in the NFL was why the vote took place this March when the old CBA was not set to expire until 2021. The NFLPA had one more full year to negotiate the best deal possible yet negotiated what many believe is the worst CBA ever. Many analysts expected that the deal was pushed by ownership during uncertain times for their own interests to scare and rush the players into accepting a horrible deal.

Read report



Major Events - Financial Ramifications Of Coronavirus Canceling Tokyo Olympics Would Be ‘Massive’

On Tuesday, Tokyo organizing committee president Yoshiro Mori said in an interview with Japanese daily Nikkan Sports that if the Games cannot go off in the summer of 2021 as planned, they would be "scrapped" rather than delayed any further.

Read report



Media Rights - NFL Extends Amazon Thursday Night Football Streaming Deal For Three Years

The coronavirus pandemic has shut down the sports world, but it’s almost business as usual for the National Football League. The league reached a new ten-year collective bargaining agreement with its players in March, and teams inked $2.4 billion worth of free agency deals over the past six weeks. The first virtual NFL draft drew a record combined audience of 55 million viewers over three days last week. The world’s richest sports league checked another off-season box today with an extension of its Amazon deal to streamThursday Night Football games broadcast by FOX.

Read more



Commercial - Sudden vanishing of sports due to coronavirus will cost at least $12 billion, analysis says

From stadium authorities to youth sports complexes, from rec centers to global TV networks such as ESPN, the scale of devastation is only now coming into view. Some organizations, especially at the lower levels of sports, say they'll be lucky to survive. The pain is especially acute among the army of low-wage service workers who support pro and college sports and are now unemployed. The losses are draining tax revenue that helps support local services such as police and firefighters and contributes to the quality of everyday life in thousands of communities.

Read report



Commercial - Sports-Focused PE Firm Seeks Up to $1.75 Billion for Team Stakes

After watching the value of pro-sports franchises skyrocket in recent years, owners are now confronting a harsh reality: It’s becoming harder and harder to sell passive minority stakes when they need to raise cash, especially during economic downturns. With high valuations scaring away many potential investors, the problem has led leagues to loosen their ownership restrictions -- and created an opportunity for a new kind of private equity investor focused on acquiring limited stakes in franchises.

Read report



Commercial - Adidas Loses Footing To Coronavirus

Adidas saw its net income in the first quarter plummet 97% as the German sportswear and sneaker giant felt an outsized impact from the coronavirus pandemic that has closed the vast majority of its stores across the globe. It also forecasted that the worst has not yet come for the company. According to Adidas, more than 70% of its stores remain closed around the world. That has led the company to lean on its e-commerce platform, which it said saw a 35% increase in sales during the quarter. However, that alone was unable to stem the decline of in-store sales. Revenues across the Adidas brand dropped 20%, while Reebok also saw a 12% drop in revenue.

Read report



Ethics - Is it immoral for football to restart before the coronavirus pandemic is over?

Disinfected footballs. Training in facemasks. Ghostly games in deserted stadiums. Testing regimes and quarantine bubbles. The proposals are attempts to imagineer a solution to a logistical problem: how can you restart professional leagues during the coronavirus pandemic? But as these visions come into focus, a second question, no less urgent and perhaps even harder to answer, is being asked across Europe: is it morally right for football to return?

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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