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Sports Law Ledger - Monday 7 September 2020

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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):


Integrity - Sports Integrity & Governance Partners (SIGPA) established to serve Australian and international sporting organisations and government agencies

Established by sports integrity experts, Iain Roy and Dale Wood, SIGPA is a collective of some of Australia’s leading sports integrity and governance experts, supported by a network of carefully selected corporate service providers who offer niche integrity and governance services. Together, the SIGPA Consultants offer a “one-stop-shop” to help sports build transformational integrity and governance capability and provide ongoing support to bring this capability to life.

Read media release

Integrity - Why COVID cost-cutting could create next sandpaper-gate

The man who investigated the infamous Australian cricket sandpaper scandal, Iain Roy, has warned financial cuts to integrity units – due to COVID-19 – leaves our nation’s various sporting codes at greater risk of corruption.

Read report

Integrity - Rugby League: Nick Weeks' exit will cost the NRL in integrity 

But integrity, in the eyes of the NRL collective, is a many-headed beast. The trick with integrity is that it is ultimately an exercise in judgement, exercised under intense scrutiny. It is therefore subjective and, in the NRL, is always viewed through the lens of competitive equality – your club/player was treated better than my club/player. In that respect, the role of the NRL’s chief of integrity is no different to referees, although match officials do have a rule book.

Read report

Read NRL media release

Integrity - Australian Rules Football: AFL investigates woman's allegations against Sydney Swans player

The AFL is aware of serious allegations made against a young Sydney Swans player, Elijah Taylor, involving the woman who was involved in his breach of Covid-19 protocols. Taylor, 19, is suspended for the rest of the 2020 season after his partner entered the Swans’ accommodation in Perth last month when she was not authorised to do so. The same woman on Saturday made a series of allegations against Taylor via social media.

Read report

Integrity - Australian Rules Football: Richmond AFL players arrested after late-night brawl given 10-match suspension and sent home

The two Richmond players arrested after a late-night altercation outside a strip club on the Gold Coast, Sydney Stack and Callum Coleman-Jones, have been handed 10-match suspensions and will be sent home from the club’s base in Queensland for breaching the league’s strict Covid protocols. The club has been fined $100,000 for the breach – $75,000 for this offence, which the players will pay, and a further $25,000 that was the suspended amount from a previous breach. $100,000 will be included in Richmond’s 2021 soft cap.

Read report

Read club media release

Integrity, Member Protection - Canoeing: Sports minister Grant Robertson says abuse allegations in elite canoe racing 'concerning'; athletes call for independent investigation

Several former management, support staff and High Performance service providers embedded in the Canoe Racing New Zealand (CRNZ) programme back the athletes’ claims. Six of the nine members of the 2017/18 women’s high performance squad have quit the team in the past 18 months, effectively wiping out an entire tier of talent from the sport, leaving New Zealand short on options for the women’s K4 team for next year’s Tokyo Olympics.

Read report

Integrity, Member Protection - AIS and NEDC Call For Eating Disorder Awareness

The AIS have released the AIS-NEDC Disordered Eating in High Performance Sport position statement and supporting resources. The position statement provides the ability for sporting organisations to appropriately address poor self-image and body image among high-performance athletes, with the release of a toolkit of resources.

Read report

Read AIS position statement

Integrity, Member Protection - Katia Alexandrovskaya: Olympic figure skater's death sparks reform

Australia’s three peak sporting bodies have created a working party with Sport Integrity Australia (SIA) and the National Sports Tribunal (NST) to develop an “independent framework” to deal with abuse, intimidation and other safeguarding issues in Australian sport.

Read report

Integrity, Member Protection - Demand to tackle online racism after attacks on footy stars

Prominent Australians have called on Attorney-General Christian Porter to increase penalties for online racism following recent attacks on Indigenous footballers, saying the eradication of race-based vilification is essential for reconciliation.

Read report

Integrity, Member Protection - MMA: Jessica Lindsay Muay Thai death prompts WA coroner's warning over culture of combat sport

The inquest was told she had undertaken an extreme "weight cutting" program before she was due to weigh in for an amateur fight. Coroner Sarah Linton said Ms Lindsay's death was "tragic" and highlighted the need for cultural change in the sport.

Read report

Integrity, Anti-Doping - Drug Free Sport New Zealand asks for more from WADA

Drug Free Sport New Zealand (DFSNZ) Chief Executive Nick Paterson has joined other national anti-doping organisations in calling for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to go “further and faster” with reforms to improve governance, independence and transparency, and to ensure athlete representation on WADA’s Foundation Board and Executive Committee.

Read DFSNZ media release

Integrity, Anti-Doping - Rugby League: 'Cheats will be caught': NRL issues warning after Xerri's positive B-sample

The NRL has warned "players who cheat will be caught" after Bronson Xerri returned a positive B-sample to a prohibited substance, but the governing body is confident there is not an underlying drugs culture at Cronulla or throughout the game.

Read report

Read NRL media release

Integrity, Match Fixing - Horse Racing: World-first harness racing integrity study

The effects of corrupt activity, perceptions of corrupt activity and of integrity interventions in harness racing have been explored in a study commissioned by Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) and conducted by the Melbourne Law School on behalf of the University of Melbourne.

Read study

Governance - Rugby League: Andrew Abdo appointed NRL CEO

The Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) today appointed Andrew Abdo as Chief Executive Officer of the National Rugby League (NRL). Mr Abdo, who was appointed Interim CEO in April, joined the NRL in 2013 and most recently served as Chief Commercial Officer. 

Read media release

Governance - Rugby League: On Its 125th Birthday, Rugby League Needs To Go International To Keep Itself Relevant

The 16 clubs that make up the NRL are, of course, concerned with the welfare of the NRL and their clubs within it, and international games represent a chance for their valuable employees to get injured for no (short term) gain to themselves.

Read report

Governance, Contracts - Rugby League: The clause that threatens to divide Dragons on coaching saga

Complicating the matter is a little-known part of the Dragons’ constitution set in stone when St George and Illawarra formed a joint venture in 1998 in the aftermath of Super League. Just as there needs to be a unanimous vote to change the club’s name, colours and emblem, there must also be universal agreement on the coach.

Read report

Governance, Athlete Relations - Football/Soccer: A-League clubs, players' union at loggerheads over new CBA

A-League club owners and the players' union are facing tense and tough talks aimed at hammering out a new collective bargaining agreement. Union chiefs expect the negotiations to drag out, with significant differences between the parties over what the game can afford. The old CBA was extended so that the A-League could continue after the initial COVID-19 lockdown, but that agreement expired following Sydney's season-ending grand final success over Melbourne City on Sunday night.

Read report

Governance, Concussion - Australian Rules Football: Matthew Pavlich: Record-setting AFL great out to take another big step

AFL great Matthew Pavlich's talk of donating his brain to ground-breaking research in the field of long-term effects of concussion could have an impact greater than any of the seven big knocks he suffered during his illustrious 17-year playing career.

Read report

Governance, Concussion - Australian Rules Football: AFL concussion class action 'probably not too far away'

Concussion victim Sam Blease suggests a class action from former players is “probably not too far away” as the AFL reiterates that the health and safety of all past, present and future players was of paramount importance.

Read report

Governance, Broadcasting - Cricket: How COVID caused chaos for cricket – and may force a rethink of all sport broadcasting deals

The disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed financial and governance tensions and mistrust involving its players’ and state associations. However, those issues are a distant second to the current dissatisfaction and distrust that one of the sport’s broadcasting partners has with the quality and scheduling of the upcoming domestic playing season.

Read report

Governance, Broadcasting - Cricket: Sydney to host entire WBBL season as tension with Channel Seven eases

Cricket Australia has confirmed Sydney will host host all 59 games of this year’s Women’s Big Bash League this summer, as Channel Seven said it had held “constructive” talks with CA over this summer’s broadcasting deal. The sixth edition of the WBBL will be held exclusively in Sydney in a move CA said “demonstrates the commitment across Australian cricket to host the full summer of cricket”.

Read report

Governance, Ethics, Broadcasting - Fox Sports deal emails could harm Federal Government minister's relationship with PM, FOI reveals

Partially refusing a Freedom of Information (FOI) request about a controversial $10 million taxpayer-funded grant to Fox Sports, Communications Minister Paul Fletcher's chief of staff Ryan Bloxsom said the disclosure "could reasonably be expected to have a detrimental effect on the working relationship between the minister's office and the Prime Minister's office, now and into the future".

Read report

Commercial, Sponsorships - Cricket: Australia’s Test match naming rights snapped up by Vodafone

Cricket Australia (CA) has announced telecommunications giant Vodafone as the naming rights partner for men’s Test matches in the country, as well as a sponsor of the Australian women’s team and the Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) Twenty20 (T20) competition.

Read report

Major Events - Rugby Union: COVID cancels major Australian sporting event six months out

The Sydney Sevens is a coronavirus casualty with the 2021 World Series rugby tournament cancelled, forcing Australia’s Olympians to seek alternatives to prepare for the Tokyo Games. The Sydney leg, as well as the the New Zealand tournament, set down for Hamilton early next year, have both been cut by World Rugby, it was announced on Tuesday.

Read report

Major Events, Venues - How Queensland and the Gabba beat WA and SA for the AFL grand final

Queensland's Gabba won the grand final, despite a smaller and less attractive venue than Perth and Adelaide. It wasn't a hard call for the AFL.

Read report

Esports - Former NBA player Walsh joints New Zealand Esports Federation Executive Committee

Matt Walsh has joined the Executive Committee of the New Zealand Esports Federation (NZESF). Walsh, the owner of the National Basketball League team the New Zealand Breakers, said he was "beyond excited and honoured to be joining the NZESF Executive Committee". The 37-year-old also owns Black Sheep New Zealand, the country's first major esports organisation.

Read report


Athlete Activism - A Moment Of Awakening: Has Sport Finally Found A Higher Purpose Beyond Entertainment?

"... there never has been a moment which rippled across so many different sports, in so many parts of the world, with such speed. It reflects the newfound realization amongst athletes that they can use their cultural influence to serve positive social impact. It is a direct and forceful dismissal of those narrow-minded cultural commentators who suggest they just ‘shut up and dribble’."

Read report

Athlete Activism - Game changers: the new wave of athletic activism shaping Britain

In the early days of lockdown – when footballers were being castigated by health secretary Matt Hancock for refusing to immediately take pay cuts – Marcus Rashford helped to raise nearly £20m to provide free meals to vulnerable people. The initiative started in Manchester but quickly went nationwide. Rashford spoke eloquently, urgently and with personal resonance, recalling his own experience of growing up in Wythenshawe with a single parent, Melanie, who often struggled to feed her five children.

Read report

Integrity, Anti-Doping - U.S. threat to pull WADA funding could leave Americans out of Olympics

The U.S. threat has sent shockwaves through the anti-doping community and prompted several governments to urge WADA to introduce legislation that would find the U.S. non-compliant with the WADA Code, effectively barring American athletes from international competition. “The consequences of a withdrawal of WADA funding by the U.S. could be more severe and far reaching for American athletes,” WADA president Witold Banka told Reuters.

Read report

Integrity, Anti-Doping - WADA calls for unity to protect clean athletes

Ahead of a meeting of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Executive Committee on 14-15 September, several representatives of the Governments of the world contacted WADA to express their concerns relative to threats from the United States Government to withdraw funding from the Agency if WADA did not fulfill a number of conditions.

Read WADA release

Integrity, Gambling - Michael Jordan Joins DraftKings As Special Advisor

“NBA team investors, including governors, are permitted to have involvement with sports betting and fantasy sports businesses, subject to safeguards required under league rules to prevent actual or perceived conflicts of interest,” an NBA spokesperson said

Read report

Integrity, Competitive Integrity - Cycling: Banned data systems used at Tour de France alleges whistleblower

The International Cycling Union (UCI) has suspected wrongdoing based off an inspector stating they had "discovered" WiFi signals. According to the Italian newspaper Corriere Della Serra, these signals were allegedly detected in a group of cyclists which could possibly track the position and form of their athletes and opponents.

Read report

Integrity, Competitive Integrity - American Football: Attendance Policies Amid COVID-19 Are Testing the NFL's Cherished Competitive Balance

So many of the NFL's systems are designed to maintain competitive balance. So the fact that teams are setting their own policies on fans shows they're really making a financial decision.

Read report

Governance, Discrimination, Concussion - American Football: Lawmakers Ask N.F.L. About Race Norms Used in Concussion Settlement

Members of Congress questioned whether the racial benchmarks used to settle dementia claims were consistent with discriminatory economic practices like redlining.

Read report

Governance, Broadcasting - Football/Soccer: Premier League Ends $988 Million Chinese Broadcast Partnership

Chinese broadcast partner, PPTV, owned by Suning Holdings, after Suning failed to pay fees worth $287 million since February, leading to the partnership being ended with two years left on the Premier League’s biggest overseas rights contract.

Read report

Competition, Anti-Trust - Football/Soccer: FIFA Is Warned That Banning Top Games in U.S. May Breach Antitrust Laws

The Justice Department told FIFA of its concerns as a lawsuit brought by an American sports promoter challenges regulations on where regular-season games involving overseas soccer clubs can be played.

Read report

Contracts - Football/Soccer: Messi ends row, decides to stay at Barcelona

The result of the high-profile arm wrestle between the world's most iconic soccer player and one of its biggest clubs appears to have ended with neither camp able to claim victory.

Read report

Commercial, M&A - Football/Soccer: Man City owners CFG complete €10m deal for Troyes to become 10th owned club

CFG acquired the shares held by previous owner Daniel Masoni. French businessman Maxime Ray has also acquired a minority stake and will take a seat on the club’s board.

ESTAC, based in Troyes, become the 10th club in the CFG portfolio and their first in France. No value was given for the deal but it looks likely to have been around €10 million.

Read report

Commercial, Broadcasting - Advertisers Seek Right to Cancel TV Spending as Pandemic Roils Fall Season

By this time of year, advertisers usually have struck broad deals governing the TV season that starts each September. This year, the pandemic scrambled the equation, delaying those deals and introducing new risks for marketers—most notably, whether the content on which they want to advertise will even get aired.

Read report

Commercial, Broadcasting - ‘The sports rights model needs innovating’: Inside Aser Ventures’ LiveNow PPV offering

Eleven Sports’ parent company has launched a new global pay-per-view streaming service dedicated to live music, fitness and sporting events. Aser Ventures director Marc Watson explains why LiveNow could be a game-changer for the distribution of live sports content.

Read report

Commercial, Sponsorships - Sports Fans Are More Loyal To Brands Supporting Racial Equality

The survey, which was published in Adweek, showed 38% of sports fans, compared to just 29% of the general public, would be more likely to be loyal to a brand that sponsors athletes and teams who speak out in support of racial equality. The survey showed more than half of sports fans openly support the Black Lives Matter movement, compared to 42% of non-sports fans.

Read report

Commercial, Sports Tech - Ask not what economics can do for sports - Ask what sports can do for economics

There are two ways to look at the relationship between economics and sport. The first is economics of sports, where economics is used “in the service” of sports industry to analyze profitability of clubs, attendance demand, competitive balance, etc. However, the aim of this article and the special issue is to concentrate on economics in sports.

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Broadcasting, Gambling - ‘This isn’t a Hail Mary’: PointsBet’s plan for US sports betting supremacy

Johnny Aitken, chief executive of PointsBet USA, outlines the sports betting operator's Stateside ambitions after striking a 'transformational' deal with media giant NBC Sports.

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 @

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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