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Can sports clubs compel players to return to play and waive health and safety liability?

Football Corona
Friday, 05 June 2020 By John Mehrzad QC, Joseph Bryan

As elite-level leagues, sporting associations and other stakeholders debate whether competitions can be restarted in an era of physical distancing, it has been reported that some professional football and rugby clubs are proposing to require players to sign disclaimers in relation to the health risks posed by Covid-19 before they resume training.[1]

This article by John Mehrzad QC and Joseph Bryan of the Littleton Sports Law Group discusses the legal consequences of clubs seeking to compel players to train or play and whether such ‘disclaimers’ are of any legal effect.  Specifically, it:

  • sets out relevant first principles of employment rights in the UK;
  • suggests that players may be entitled to refuse to play or train due to Covid-19 concerns; and
  • explains how waivers of liability for Covid-19-related personal injury or death are not enforceable.

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Written by

John Mehrzad QC

John Mehrzad QC

John Mehrzad QC was appointed Silk after only 13 years’ practice – the fastest appointee in the 2019 competition.  With a background in employment law and commercial law, his sports law at Littleton Chambers, London, practice focuses, on the one hand, on financial disputes between clubs, managers, players, intermediaries, associations and commercial partners – usually before FA, PL or EFL arbitrations, or before FIFA or the CAS.  

Joseph Bryan

Joseph Bryan

Joe is a member of Littleton’s Sports Law Group and welcomes instructions in sports law, both as sole counsel and led by more senior counsel.

Recent sports law instructions include:
- Advising on, and drafting, an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport against a decision of the FIFA Dispute Resolution Chamber.
- Drafting Particulars of Claim in a multi-million-pound football breach of contract claim.
- Representing an athlete charged with an Adverse Analytical Finding by the IAAF.
- Advising in a Rule K FA Arbitration.
- Representing a high-profile athlete in proceedings before the National Anti-Doping Panel.

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