Sports Disputes and Disciplinary Procedures - the Year in review 2020/21

Image of football players arguing with referee
Friday, 21 May 2021 By Carol Couse, Tiran Gunawardena, Rustam Sethna

It is difficult to look back on 2020 without considering the impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had, in any context. The situation with disputes and disciplinary proceedings in sport is no different; Covid-19 has forced the sports industry to address novel issues, adopt new regulations and adapt to new ways of working.

At the same time, the year gone by has seen some interesting disputes and disciplinary developments in sports law that demonstrate the upward trajectory of an industry that continues to grow in spite of the pandemic.

For the purposes of this review, the authors will highlight:

  1. Sports disputes and disciplinary proceedings that have arisen as a result of Covid-19;
  2. Other key disputes that have taken place over the last year;
  3. Important regulatory updates and changes; and
  4. A few thoughts on what lies ahead.

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About the Author

Carol Couse

Carol Couse

Carol is a Partner in the sports team at Mills & Reeve LLP , with extensive in-house and in private practice experience of dealing with sports regulatory matters, whether contentious or non-contentious, including in respect of all legal issues pertaining to football.  She has represented clients before dispute resolution and disciplinary bodies of the Premier League, The FA, UEFA, FIFA and the CAS.

As a Spanish speaker, Carol frequently advises top athletes, agents, and clubs in Spain and Latin America. Carol is regularly invited to lecture at universities and conferences all over the world, publishes articles on a wide variety of sport-related matters, and often provides comments and analysis on legal issues in sport for the BBC, the Times, the Guardian, the New York Times, Sky Sports, ESPN and others.

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Tiran Gunawardena

Tiran Gunawardena

Tiran Gunawardena is a Senior Associate (Australian Qualified) in the London sports law team at Mills & Reeve LLP. Tiran was selected by Who’s Who Legal: Sports and Entertainment as a leading sports lawyer in the UK in 2020, 2019 and 2018. Tiran specialises in international and domestic sports arbitration, with significant experience with proceedings before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and regulatory matters in sport.He is dual qualified as an Australian solicitor and chartered accountant, and holds a Master in International Sports Law from ISDE (Madrid). Tiran is on the Arbitral Board and Disciplinary Committee of the UCI, and is also an England Boxing and British Gymnastics Disciplinary Panel member.Prior to working at Mills & Reeve, Tiran spent almost 4 years working in the Corporate Tax and M&A team at PwC Sydney.

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Rustam Sethna

Rustam Sethna

Rustam is an Associate on the sports law team at Mills & Reeve LLP, focusing on sports disputes and regulatory matters. He holds a master’s in International Sports Law from ISDE (Madrid) and is also a member of the Disciplinary Panel at England Boxing and the Anti-Doping Committee at the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation.
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