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In pursuit of good governance - analysing the main points of conflict in India’s draft Sports Code

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Wednesday, 01 July 2020 By Joshua McLeod, Shaun Star

Three years ago, the Government of India formed an expert panel to draft the National Code for Good Governance in Sports 2017 (NCGGS 2017). The Code is currently in limbo as key stakeholders continue to disagree on what it should contain.[1] This article analyses three of the main points of dispute in the NCGGS 2017:

  • The ban on politicians serving as board members in national sport federations (NSFs)
  • The age limit of 70 years for board members in NSFs
  • The four-year cooling-off period to be served after two consecutive terms for board members in NSFs

The Indian Olympic Association (IOA), NSFs and certain politicians have been leading the resistance against the above provisions claiming that they are either unworkable, unfair or inefficient. Conversely, sport activists, lawyers, athletes and other politicians claim that the provisions represent good governance practices that are needed in Indian NSFs.[2]

This article assesses the rationale for the stated provisions, taking into account the extent to which they reflect international best practice and the specific circumstances of Indian sport. The purpose is not to come to a definitive view on the validity of the provisions, but rather to provide a deeper analysis of their merits and limitations. In the authors’ view, this kind critical debate has been missing from the wider discourse on the NCGGS 2017.

First, however, it is prudent to provide an overview of how the regulatory landscape pertaining to sport governance in India has evolved over the last decade.

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Written by

Joshua McLeod

Joshua McLeod

Dr Joshua McLeod is a Research Fellow in Deakin University’s Centre for Sport Research, based in Melbourne, Australia. Joshua’s research interests centre on sports governance, sports law and organisational change. He has published research in leading academic journals including the Journal of Sport Management and European Sport Management Quarterly. Joshua has lectured in Sport Business and Governance in business schools in Scotland, England and Australia. He received his PhD from Heriot-Watt University following a three-year study into the governance of Scottish football clubs.

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Shaun Star

Shaun Star

Associate Professor & Associate Dean, Jindal Global Law School

Shaun Star is an Associate Professor & Associate Dean (International) at Jindal Global Law School and Director, Centre for Sports Law, Business and Governance at O.P. Jindal Global University.

Shaun has been working in India since 2010. Running his own advisory practice, Shaun has advised numerous organisations (from start-ups to listed companies), assisting them with their entry and expansion into India. He has also advised a number of clients in the field of sports law, including national sporting federations.

Shaun is an Australian qualified lawyer and has worked at various top-tier law firms in Australia and India, including most recently at Amarchand & Mangaldas & Suresh A Shroff & Co. Shaun was recently named as one of 30 people to watch in the business of law in Asia.

At Jindal Global Law School, Shaun teaches Sports Law and Governance and Tort Law. Previously, Shaun has worked as Senior Operations Manager at the Indian Premier League (IMG) and in a boutique sports law firm in Bangalore. He is the Founding Director of the Centre for Sports Law, Business and Governance at O.P. Jindal Global University.

Shaun is passionate about promoting the Australia-India relationship and has published a book entitled “Australia and India: A Comparative Overview of the Law and Legal Practice”, a volume which has received contributions from judges, leading barristers, academics and legal practitioners. The book has been launched by Former Australian High Court Judge, The Honourable Justice Michael Kirby AC CMG, and the Attorneys General of Australia and India.

Shaun is the Executive Director of the Centre for India Australia Studies at O.P. Jindal Global University. He was also co-founder and Chair of the Australia India Youth Dialogue, a forum which hosts young politicians, entrepreneurs, policy-makers and diplomats and encourages collaboration between young leaders of both of our nations.

Commentating on issues such as the Australia-India relationship and sports law and governance in India, Shaun’s opinion pieces have been featured in Indian and Australian national newspapers and he has participated in panel sessions on Indian prime time television.

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