SPORTS LAW- LEGAL FRAMEWORK BY LL – VOL. 2

SPORTS LAW- LEGAL FRAMEWORK BY LL – VOL. 2

“Sports is leisure, played for fun, entertainment and a royal’s competition” had gone into history and nowadays sports are a full-fledged profession and structured as an organized Industry. The international sports bodies took the initiative to organize international events amongst countries with broadcasts of the same to people across nations, which glued everyone to watch the games. Eventually, it inspired kids to take sports as professions, and competing internationally gave individuals and teams a sense of accomplishment. As the organizing of events evolved along with the game, more business houses began expressing their interest in the events. Hence, it gave corporations an opportunity to penetrate the global market through these sporting events. 

Sport-related investments are now a typical strategy used by businesses seeking to expand their reach abroad. These days, a number of business houses sponsor many sporting events. Additionally, endorsement deals are made between companies and sports person to promote their brands. The anticipated growth of the global sports market is $707.84 billion in 2026 from $501.43 billion in 2022. It is understood that corporations inevitably contribute significantly to the growth of sports.

Over the years, the growth has been exponential in the sports industry but without a strong legal framework, sports and sporting activities cannot develop, grow, progress, or even exist. Instead, they should adhere to the laws that set forth the definitions of sports and sporting events as well as conduct guidelines to achieve the primary objectives of sports. Sports are undoubtedly connected to several substantive fields of law, although sports law is now considered a distinct branch of law. Since sports law deals with such a wide range of legal matters, it is usually said that it may include more legal issues than any other area of law. Legallands has dealt with many such issues dealing with sports person or sports bodies and below is an attempt to demonstrate how sports interact with various legal fields including Civil, Commercial & Criminal Laws.

Contract law:

Without a doubt, the law of contracts is the foundation upon which “Sports Law” has been created and is of the utmost significance in the majority of situations where sport and the law are intertwined. Whether a sport is being played at an elite or less competitive level, a contract is constantly at work somewhere.

Sports law contains various agreements, which eventually retain principles of contract law and their importance with respect to the interpretation and application of the terms of agreements.

Mentioned below is the non-exhaustive list of issues where the law of contract has found its place in sports:

  • The engagement of athletes or players by teams or organizations to compete in various sporting competitions and events;
  • Management contract between athletes and managers;
  • Agreements relating to player’s IPR rights;
  • Agreements relating to hosting a major sporting competition or event;
  • The sale of media rights in respect of a sporting event or competition;
  • Broadcasting contracts;
  • Sponsorships rights; and
  • Obligation of players in major events or competitions.

The broad range of sports-related issues to which contract law applies result in a broad range of disputes, the resolution of which frequently depends on the use of general contract law principles.

Intellectual Property Law:

Sportspersons, Athletes and even Clubs get global recognition when either of them does well in the sports. However, nowadays, every club or athlete wants to be identified by their own distinct identity. They would prefer to get their Trademark registered, which is then used commercially. For instance, the trademarks for Cristiano Ronaldo’s name, initials, and number are CR7 and CR9. Not only do athletes and clubs sign trademark agreements with numerous brands, but they also engage in various Intellectual property agreements. Increasing demands of different entities and players, Intellectual property regulations are in effect to address the issues of athletes and clubs concerning their names, logos, signs, etc.

Employment Law:

Professional sports organizations employ hundreds or even thousands of persons to handle administrative duties, sell items or food and drink, and fill roles as security officers etc. Professional athletes cannot be compelled to work excessive hours or in unacceptable conditions. Employment law can assist in understanding labor laws as they pertain to human rights, as well as ensuring that they are hiring legally, processing taxes and medical leave correctly, and providing the appropriate degree of compensation to their employees.

Corporate laws:

Sports organizations or clubs have to comply with national corporate laws in order to restructure or manage their working structure. However, there are no sport-specific corporate governance codes, to which clubs or organizations adhere in problems like raising of funds to insolvency etc. The legal questions about the management and liability of corporate affairs are purely dependent upon the legal structure of the organizations.

Criminal Law:

Sportspersons sometimes take illegal measures to gain an advantage in sports, whether it be doping or match fixing or any such type of criminal intent to succeed in the sports. Instances such as causing serious injury or death to another athlete or individual can result in criminal charges for assault and battery. However, nowadays, in various jurisdictions, betting by sports persons is considered a criminal offense. For athletes, it is imperative not to get indulge in criminal activities and keeping a record clean and professional relies on knowing what things are meant for them.

Commercial sports involve several legal matters that touch on all of the legal disciplines mentioned above. Sports event organizers have a general duty to ensure safety and take precautions in the interest of participants and spectators. The fair treatment of and labor rights for those who work at various sporting venues might give rise to similar legal difficulties. If an existing team or a new one decides to change its name or logo, they must deal with trademark difficulties.

There are various legal problems which surrounds athletes, both those that directly harm the athletes themselves as well as those that are committed by the athletes and have an impact on the teams and organizations. This starts with things like new contracts or contract infractions and can progress to criminal activity both on and off the field, as well as injuries experienced during competitions. Legallands has the expertise to deal with issues related to sports person or sports bodies in various fields of law across nations.

DISPUTE RESOLUTION IN SPORTS

Age is a significant element for sportspersons in highly competitive sports like football, cricket, basketball, hockey, etc. Athletes only have a finite number of years to compete in their respective sports. Having recourse from national courts for sports disputes was considered a cumbersome procedure. National courts have jurisdiction over sportspersons or clubs depending upon the nature of the dispute.  However, national courts are precluded from dealing with cases where there is an arbitration clause between the parties to the dispute or they have exhausted any internal dispute resolution procedures required by applicable law or the rules of the respective association or federation. Furthermore, international committees have formed a structure to deal with sports issues.  Hence, the proper hierarchy of decision-makers in sports disputes was established:

National Sports Federations and their Subsidiaries: The primary responsibility for avoiding and resolving sporting disputes lies with national governing bodies or sports organizations. The majority of them are private tribunals with the authority to impose rules and restrictions on their members. They draw their authority from their governing documents, which include rules, regulations, by-laws, and constitutions that serve as a contract between the International Federation and its members. Thus, the contract sets both the legal basis for the organization’s authority and the rights and obligations of membership. It is in the best interest of every organization to have sound policies relating to the aspects of governance that are frequently the most contentious, such as eligibility and team selection, discipline, and especially hearings and appeals. Every organization has the authority to act and make decisions based on international guidelines.

International Sporting Federations: International federations, which oversee sport and have a role in its development and regulation on a global scale, are at the top of the hierarchy. They possess the power to make laws relating to the game and for the subsidiary bodies to solve international disputes. National sports federations are bound by the rules of the international federations and their decisions have the power to prevent athletes from competing at the international level.

However, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) resolves disputes between national players or clubs and international federations. The CAS has the power to overturn all decisions made by all national sporting bodies within its jurisdiction. “The Court of Arbitration for Sport” is the apex court for the resolution of a sporting dispute.

Although the law of the nation has a position in sports, it is largely up to the participants and their associates to resolve any disputes or sanctions pertaining to the sport. The courts are reluctant to intervene or give clear opinions to their judgments and whether sporting bodies would ever be subject to judicial scrutiny until the state is directly affected and any violations are committed in accordance with the law of the nation.

Sports Federations and other auxiliary bodies associated with sport, as well as athletes, require ‘Formal Sports Legislation’ that adheres to the local laws of the nation and which shall provide a complete understanding to the stakeholders regarding their responsibilities.

LEGALLANDS has the requisite experience and skills and network to deal with matters relating to Sports Law such as Player contracts, Broadcasting agreements, Registration of Intellectual property rights, Commercial agreements, etc. Our Expert professional team can study, interpret, and research, strategies- legal and lobbying, negotiate, formulate, and draft contracts &, suits & claims & petitions, etc., for all sorts of International Disputes such as Sale & Purchase of Goods or Services, Joint Ventures and Collaborations, Technology Transfers, Government Contracts, E-Commerce, Banking and Payment Settlements, Third Party Guarantees and many more.

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