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Tapping-up (tampering) of sports players: How the NBA rules compare to the English Premier League

Published 03 October 2017 | Authored by: Sean O'Toole

Tapping up, or tampering as it is referred to in America, is the practice of attempting to persuade a person under contract to move without the knowledge or permission of the other contracting party. It most commonly happens in sports where a club attempts to persuade a player under contract with another club to move.

Tapping up was a hot topic during the 2017 summer football transfer window and hit the headlines on the other side of the Atlantic in basketball.

This article compares the tapping up rules of (and practices) in two of the major leagues in football and basketball: the English Premier League (EPL) and the National Basketball Association (NBA). Specifically, it looks at:

  • Why sports want to control tapping up when is (generally) doesn’t infringe local laws
  • A comparison of the EPL and NBA’s rules on tapping up
    • Sources of tapping up rules
    • Who cannot be tapped up?
    • Who can be accountable to the league for tapping up?
    • What conduct constitutes tapping up?
    • What is the enforcement procedure?
    • What sanctions are available?
  • Examples of tapping up in Summer 2017 – the rules in practice
    • Virgil van Dijk (Southampton FC and Liverpool FC)
    • Paul George (Indiana Pacers and LA Lakers)  

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About the Author

Sean O'Toole

Sean O'Toole

Sean is an associate in the sports law team at Beswicks Legal. He acts for clients across a broad range of commercial and regulatory disputes, with a particular focus on acting for clubs and sportspersons.

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