Sports Law Ledger - Tuesday 9 June 2020




‪Catchup on the latest sports law, integrity, and commercial news, updates, and alerts (copyright remains the property of respective owners):





AUSTRALIA


Racism - 'We're still not there yet': Clarkson backs Wingard's fight

Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson says Chad Wingard is passionate about fighting racism and has backed his player's stance to avoid conducting interviews. Wingard has taken to social media to reveal his thoughts about the protests in the United States over police brutality towards African-Americans.

Read report



Integrity - Sport Integrity Australia launches website

Sport Integrity Australia is a new agency bringing the Commonwealth's sports integrity workforce together. From 1 July 2020, the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA), the National Integrity of Sport Unit (NISU) and the national integrity programs of Sport Australia will join forces to become one entity providing national coordination and streamlined support to sports.

View website



Integrity - Australian Rules Football: Police probe ongoing as AFL clears Cat over stabbing incident

A Victoria Police investigation into the stabbing of Geelong's Jack Steven remains ongoing, however the midfielder has been cleared of any wrongdoing by the AFL. Exact details as to what caused the incident remain unknown. 

Read report



Integrity, Anti-Doping - Rugby League: Star's $700,000 payout: The story Paul Gallen didn't want you to read

In recent weeks, with few knowing, the Sharks were forced to make a payment of about $700,000 to Gallen. Why? So he didn’t sue them for what took place in 2011. Information given to the Sydney Morning Herald's Danny Weidler is that Gallen could have got a lot more if he had pursued legal action.

Read report



Integrity, Anti-Doping - 'Farcical': Drug testers the only exception to AFL's strict quarantine rules

The AFL is unable to force the drug testers to be tested for the coronavirus and cannot stop them entering the clubs, despite it being at odds with the league's own strict rules negotiated with federal and state governments as part of the return to play provisions. The AFL has no authority over ASADA testers, as they belong to a federal government body, and as a WADA signatory, the league must comply with the authority's testing protocols.

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Integrity, Governance - Cricket: Melbourne Renegades' chief to report to Melbourne Stars' chief

Both the Stars and the Renegades have seen enormous upheaval since they played off in the BBL grand final in 2018 at Docklands in Melbourne. The two clubs had their boards (led by Eddie McGuire and Jason Dunstall) dissolved and their chief executives - Clint Cooper and Stuart Coventry respectively - made redundant ahead of the previous season. Almost A$1 million was spent on management exit packages as per Cricket Victoria's annual report.

Read report



Governance - 'Financial disaster': Community sports hit out at government plan on return dates

Community sport bosses in NSW have been angered by the state government's proposed return date for junior sport, arguing a date for senior competitions is also needed for clubs to survive. On Tuesday, the state government announced a July 1 community sport restart date for those aged 18 years and under but did not provide a date for senior competitions.

Read report



Governance, Athlete Relations - Cricket: Australian players reject Cricket Australia's forecast of cash-strapped future due to coronavirus

The Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) wrote to the players saying it had no confidence in Cricket Australia's figures. According to the ACA, Cricket Australia (CA) is expecting revenue to fall by 48 per cent, from $461 million to $239.7 million for 2020/21, with a further 20 per cent reduction in 2021/22, from $484 million to $385.5 million.

Read report



Governance, Athlete Relations - Cricket: Players set to fight if Cricket Australia projections are not 'reasonable'

While players will learn their retainers for 2020/21 in one-on-one contract meetings, as well as where they are ranked among those who have also won national deals, it is a number CA is scheduled to provide that may determine whether or not the game devolves into another major dispute.

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Governance, Athlete Relations - Rugby Union: Queensland Reds to seek compensation for loss of Izack Rodda, Isaac Lucas, Harry Hockings

The disgruntled Reds will pursue transfer fees of more than $100,000 for developing Izack Rodda, Isaac Lucas and Harry Hockings because of their shock exit from contracts.

Read more



Governance, Commercial - Football/Soccer: Darwin makes history as team sport spectators return

The Northern Territory's men's and women's Premier League made history after becoming the first sport in Australia and possibly the world to welcome back spectators since COVID-19 restrictions.

Read more



Governance, Commercial - Women’s sport can emerge as the winner from this sporting hiatus

“We don’t want just the same old delivery model that started a hundred years ago. It’s time to be new and modern and innovative.” - Dr Bridie O’Donnell

Read report



Governance, Commercial - Rugby Union: Rugby Australia's financial pain felt widely but not shared universally

About 40% of RA’s staff have gone in one swinging of the axe but such is the importance of the Wallabies, not everyone has been affected.

Read more



Governance, Commercial - Australian Rules Football: AFL clubs risk misleading fans, breaking law by mixing membership benefits with charity

AFL clubs trying to convert membership payments into tax-deductible gifts are at risk of breaching federal consumer and tax law, and supporters could be left bearing the cost, experts have warned.

Read more



Governance, Commercial, Venues - Australian Rules Football: How the AFL used its biggest asset to tackle Covid-19 financial woes

Four years ago, the AFL took something of a gamble by purchasing the Marvel Stadium, in what has proved a prescient move. Under the agreement that governed the construction and operation of the stadium, the AFL was entitled to take ownership of it in 2025 for a nominal A$30 fee. In October 2016, the league agreed to pay A$200m to take control of the management rights and freehold ownership from the super fund and institutional owners, nine years early.

Read report



Governance, Employment - Football/Soccer: A-League expansion clubs taken to court by former employees

The A-League's two newest clubs are being sued by former workers, each of whom are alleging to have suffered mental health damage as a result of their employment and are seeking tens of thousands of dollars in damages

Read report



Governance, Animal Welfare - Horse Racing: Independent panel launches comprehensive review of racehorse welfare

The treatment of racehorses at abattoirs and what to do with animals that no longer race will form part of a review aimed at producing a new welfare framework for the racing industry.

Read more

Download the issues paper



Commercial, Venues - Australian Rules Football: MCG tenant clubs get multi-million-dollar windfall

Collingwood, Melbourne, Richmond, Hawthorn, Carlton and Essendon will each receive home game payments estimated at between $150,000 and $200,000 per match for the remainder of the shortened season.

Read more



Commercial, Venues - Rugby League: NRL considers stadium ownership options

Lottoland at Brookvale is the current venue most in need of a rebuild, while Penrith, Campbelltown and a southern stadium that services Cronulla and St George Illawarra are also areas in need of infrastructure spending. While the state government is expected to fund the projects, the NRL is investigating potential ownership possibilities that could arise.

Read more



Commercial, IP, Disputes - Fitness chain F45 lPO on hold as legal battle heats up

In January Bloomberg reported F45, which was valued at $645 million last year, had filed confidentially for an initial public offering in the United States, with Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan advising on the listing. Five months on F45 has failed to file any documents to commence the IPO and has been forced to shutter its studios as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Read report



Commercial, IP - Rugby League: A little NHL, but also ‘very rugby league’: Will THIS be the name of Brisbane’s second NRL team?

Brisbane’s Eastern Suburbs District Rugby League Football Club Inc —behind one four reported bids to become the city’s second team in the NRL— filed a trademark on the title “Brisbane Firehawks”.

Read report

View TM no. 2091484



Commercial, Esports - Motor Sport: Eseries reaches reported 500k new fans

Supercars data analytical partner Futures says the BP Supercars All Stars Eseries has reached half a million viewers who had never been exposed to the sport before.

Read report



Media Rights - Rugby League: Streaming-rights battle brewing after sharp drop in Millennials watching NRL on TV

A battle for NRL streaming rights could be on the horizon after revelations an alarming number of young viewers are switching off rugby league on television. Statistics released by Roy Morgan on Wednesday indicate that NRL TV viewers under the age of 34 have dropped 10 per cent in the past four years.

Read report



Media Rights - Rugby League: NRL blocks Telstra from streaming in bid to secure extension with Nine

Foxtel, in which Telstra has a 35 per cent stake, currently sells the streaming rights to the telco provider as part of a five-year $100 million deal. But under the NRL's extended Foxtel contract, secured last week, the pay-TV operator is prohibited from on-selling in the 2023-2027 cycle.

Read report


Broadcasting - Australian Rules Football: Land of Opportunity or American Dream? AFL's U.S. conundrum

For a league that has long pined for exposure and relevance overseas -- including more-miss-than-hit pushes into South Africa, India, New Zealand and China, as well as semi-regular International Rules clashes against Ireland -- the AFL may be facing a perfect opportunity to gain some sort of traction in the United States.

Read report



Broadcasting - Rugby League: 'Not acceptable': Apologies from Fox Sports and Matty Johns after Hitler skit

Fox Sports showed a photoshopped image of Hitler in the crowd during Manly's clash with Canterbury on 'Sunday Night with Matty Johns'. It drew immediate criticism online.

Read report





GLOBAL



Racism - American Football: 'We were wrong': Goodell admits NFL should have listened to players on protests

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell says the league made mistakes in not listening to players in a video on Friday denouncing racism in the United States amid widespread protests over police brutality against black people.

View video



Racism - American Football: The NFL Is Suddenly Worried About Black Lives

On Saturday, National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell had the nerve to put out a statement extending condolences to the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery—three African Americans who were killed by people who claimed to be enforcing the law. The league, Goodell insisted, was “committed to continuing the important work to address these systemic issues together with our players, clubs and partners.”

Read report



Racism - USOPC chief apologises to Berry for "not understanding" impact of podium protest sanction

American hammer thrower Gwen Berry has said United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) chief executive Sarah Hirshland has apologised for "not understanding the impact her decisions had on me" after she was placed on probation for a podium protest at Lima 2019.

Read report



Racism - Football/Soccer: FIFA president Gianni Infantino says players protesting over George Floyd's death deserve 'applause, not punishment'

FIFA president Gianni Infantino has stepped into the debate about Bundesliga players who protested during matches against the death of George Floyd, saying they should be applauded and not punished. Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho was shown a yellow card for taking off his jersey during a Bundesliga match so he could display a T-shirt emblazoned with "Justice for George Floyd".

Read more



Racism - George Floyd's killing matters too much for corporate sport's on-brand insincerity

Statements barely addressing an unarmed black man’s death are closer to obligation than any commitment to social justice.

Read report



Racism - Team considering Colin Kaepernick projected to lose '20% of their season ticket holders'

"No teams wanted to sign a player — even one as talented as [Colin] Kaepernick — whom they saw as controversial, and, therefore, bad for business. …"

Read report



Integrity - Doping cover-ups and more than $10 million missing - Aján condemned in weightlifting corruption inquiry

More than $10 million is unaccounted for, 40 doping positives have been covered up, and vote-buying was rampant at the past two electoral congresses of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF). These were the key findings of an independent investigation into corruption in weightlifting, which was made public today by the Canadian law professor Richard McLaren, who led the investigation. McLaren was scathing in his criticism of Tamás Aján and his "autocratic, authoritarian leadership" of the IWF.

Read report

Download Independent Investigator Report



Integrity, Governance - Corruption in weightlifting exposes its need for an independent enforcer

Years of bribery, cover-ups and money-laundering have been uncovered by a Canadian law professor, but who would fund an investigative team to scrutinise sports federations?

Read report



Integrity, Anti-Doping - Indian weightlifter wants compensation for "injustice" of unclosed 2017 doping case

An Indian weightlifter who suffered "mental trauma" and, she says, lost her chance to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games because of an unexplained mix-up over a doping positive is seeking compensation from the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF).

Read report

Read IWF's suspension notice



Integrity, Anti-Doping - Women's 400m world champion Naser provisionally banned for whereabouts failures

The women's 400 metres world champion, Bahrain's Salwa Eid Naser, has been provisionally suspended by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) for whereabouts failures. Naser, who was born in Nigeria but represents Bahrain, broke the Asian record on her way to gold in Doha at the World Athletics Championships in October.

Read report



Integrity, Anti-Doping - Snowboarding: Canadian Para-snowboarder retires after receiving four-year doping ban

Canadian Para-snowboarder Matt Hamilton has quit the sport after he was given a four-year doping ban following a positive test for a prohibited substance. The Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES) said the 37-year-old tested positive for GW501516, also known as cardarine and endurobol, in January.

Read report



Governance - How England risk losing ground on Australia in women's sport reboot

England risk being left in the wake of rivals Australia amid fears women's sport is facing an 'invisible summer'. While women’s football, rugby and netball have all had their domestic league seasons cancelled in England, efforts to reboot sport in Australia have been strikingly different.

Read report



Governance - Badminton: Prominent USOPC critic Hogshead-Makar appointed to USA Badminton Board

Three-time Olympic swimming gold medallist and civil rights lawyer Nancy Hogshead-Makar has been appointed to the USA Badminton Board of Directors. The appointment of the 58-year-old comes after the USOPC recently dropped its threat to decertify USA Badminton as the governing body for the sport in the country.

Read report



Governance - Rugby Union: Pressure mounting on World Rugby to deliver findings of investigation into Fiji Rugby Union chair Francis Kean

Pressure is mounting on World Rugby to deliver the findings of an investigation into the disgraced chairman of the Fiji Rugby Union, Francis Kean. Already known as a convicted killer, he stepped down from the World Rugby Council amid accusations of homophobia linked to secret recordings of him berating prison officers and ordering them to carry out acts of brutality on inmates and fellow wardens.

Read report



Governance - Field Hockey: IOC asked to take action against Batra for "illegal" election as FIH and IOA President

A senior Indian Olympic Association (IOA) official has claimed Narinder Batra's election as International Hockey Federation (FIH) President was "illegal" and accused him of making false declarations on his way to securing the top job at the IOA. In an escalation of a bitter internal dispute at the IOA, vice-president Sudhanshu Mittal has asked International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach and the ruling Executive Board to "take appropriate action" against Batra.

Read report



Governance, Member Protection - Motor Sport: Positive coronavirus tests will not halt Formula One races

Safety measures that will be in place when the season begins in Austria next month should ensure that the race can go ahead even if there is a positive test, with quarantine procedures available if necessary.

Read report



Governance, Athlete Relations - Rugby Union: Battle to reform salary cap is only just getting started

Premiership Rugby clubs have endorsed a radical overhaul of the salary cap structure. The 52 recommendations contained in the Lord Myners report — including severe punishments for clubs, coaches and players who breach the regulations — were backed unanimously in a vote taken last Thursday.

Read report

Read the Lord Myners report



Governance, Commercial - Athletics: World Athletics deficits revealed as sport’s long trudge to transparency accelerates

Figures detailing the financial performance of World Athletics have at long last emerged, showing that the body made hefty deficits in both 2017 and 2018. In 2018, the organisation’s revenues are put at $47.5 million (£37.4 million/€42 million), compared with expenses of $66.8 million (£52.7 million/€59.1 million), to leave an apparent deficit of $19.3 million (£15.2 million/€17 million).

Read report



Governance, Commercial - Rugby Union: ‘A radical departure’: Who are CVC and what are their plans for rugby?

The narrative that CVC – the investment goliath with assets worth US$75 billion – are contemplating a takeover of professional rugby has passed. One by one, deals are being signed. They have very much arrived.

Read more



Governance, Commercial - Cricket: ECB announce record turnover, but must now look to cut costs

The ECB will have to make significant cuts to its costs despite posting a record turnover of £228 million in 2019. A home World Cup and Ashes series led to a bumper year for the governing body with a rise in turnover of £56 million from the previous year and a profit of £6.5 million.

Read report



Commercial, Sponsorships - Hegerberg makes history for women’s football with Nike sponsorship deal

The growing commercial power of women’s football reached a significant milestone yesterday as Ada Hegerberg became the first female player to sign the same type of career-long Nike sponsorship deal as Cristiano Ronaldo, Serena Williams and LeBron James.

Read report



Commercial, Sponsorships - Nike made to wait as Liverpool complete season in New Balance kit

New Balance, who are being replaced by Nike as Liverpool’s kit supplier from next season, have agreed a short-term extension to their current contract that will see them through to July 31 and the likely crowning of Liverpool as Premier League champions. Nike had been scheduled to take over the Liverpool contract from June 1 but will now start August 1 following the pushing back of season ending dates by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Read report



Major Events - ‘Simplified’ measures to be considered for rescheduled Tokyo Olympics

Japanese newspaper Yomiuri initially reported that organisers are considering implementing several measures such as mandatory testing, restrictions on the number of spectators and also restrictions on travelling around the country. Governor Yuriko Koike said, “we need to rationalise what needs to be rationalised and simplify what needs to be simplified.”

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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