Duty of Care in Sport: Making the case for a Sports Ombudsman in the UK

Published 26 September 2017 By: Jack Anderson, Neil Partington

Referee issuing yellow card

The first of the seven priority recommendations to be found in Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson’s Duty of Care Review of UK Sport (2017) proposed the establishment of a Sports Ombudsman. The suggestion for such an office had been made by the authors at the consultation phase of the Review.

This article sketches out how, in ensuring that national sports governing bodies discharge their duty of care, this Ombudsman might work, the scope of its jurisdiction and the enforcement of its recommendations.

Various models are suggested with the emphasis on an accessible, athlete-centred and fully accountable approach to dispute resolution in UK sport. Of particular interest will be the suggested “maladministration” model, which, if ever acted upon, would give a Sports Ombudsman extensive powers of oversight and redress over UK sport and which might, if successful, provide the model for an independent, athlete-accountable, international sports ombudsman’s office.

Specifically, the piece looks at:

  • The Duty of Care Review and the recommendation for a Sports Ombusdman;

  • The role of Ombudsman elsewhere;

  • How might a UK Sports Ombudsman Work?

    • Advocacy and advice - the United States Olympic Committee’s approach

    • An enhanced Independent (Football) Ombudsman

    • The maladministration model

    • The investigatory model

  • The need for a preventative remit and accessibility

 

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Author

Jack Anderson

Jack Anderson

Jack Anderson is Professor and Director of Sports Law Studies at the University of Melbourne. The sports law program at Melbourne was one of the first to be established globally in the mid-1980 and continues to expand at the Melbourne Law School, which itself is ranked in the top 10 law schools globally.

Jack has published widely in the area including monographs such as The Legality of Boxing (Routledge 2007) and Modern Sports Law (Hart 2010) and edited collections such as Landmark Cases in Sports Law (Asser 2013) and EU Sports Law (Edward Elgar 2018 with R Parrish and B Garcia). He was Editor-in-Chief of the International Sports Law Journal based at the International Sports Law Centre at the Asser Institute from 2013 to 2016. 

Jack is a former member of CAS (2016-2018).  He became a member of the inaugural International Amateur Athletics Federation’s Disciplinary Tribunal and the International Hockey Federation’s Integrity Unit in 2017.  In 2019, he was appointed to the International Tennis Federation’s Ethics Commission. He is currently chair of the Advisory Group establishing a National Sports Tribunal for Australia

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Neil Partington

Neil Partington

Neil is a Lecturer in Law at the University of Sussex. Prior to this, he gained his PhD and was a Research Fellow in Sports Law at Queen’s University Belfast. Neil has considerable experience in teaching and educational management and also holds an MSc in Sports Coaching.

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