In December our Editorial and Advisory Board picked out their key cases of 2013. In this article our Board members share their key Sports Law topics to watch out for in 2014.
Kevin Carpenter - topic to watch in 2014
Somewhat predictably I am going to have to choose match-fixing as the major issue for 2014 in sports law. The world is now waking up to the multi-faceted and global threat to all sport that match-fixing presents. There is now an anti-match-fixing industry that has developed with money and politics involved, which unfortunately attracts people who are ill informed both in the public arena and behind closed doors. I hope there will be a move away from simply blaming those that carry out the match-fixing to trying to understand WHY they do it. Also there needs to be greater focus on catching the organised criminals involved and cutting off the proceeds of their criminal behaviour. It will be interesting to see what difference the new IOC initiatives makes as I have said on numerous occasions they are the body best placed to lead on this issue. We will also see what influence the Council of Europe's convention against the manipulation of sports results may have as there needs to be far better criminal laws and sanctions in place in almost every jurisdiction. Match-fixing is a unique offence that needs bespoke laws. In terms of case law to look out for: Kevin Sammut v UEFA at the CAS and the criminal trials in England following the arrests at the back end of 2013.
Daniel Geey - topic to watch in 2014
It will come as little surprise that I believe one of the big talking points will come in the Spring in relation to the UEFA CFCB financial fair play break-even decisions. If there are teams still in competition that are in breach of the regulations, there will be important integrity of competition issues that ultimately CAS may need to address. In addition, the initial CFCB decisions will be instructive in assessing how sanctions will be determined and the grounds for challenging the proportionality of an exclusion or disqualification from competition for clubs.
Mark James - topic to watch in 2014
The regulation of football fans. There is growing tension between the police and football authorities on the one hand and spectators on the other. Although the use of pyrotechnic devices is grabbing many of the headlines, police are increasingly intolerant of what they consider to be football-related misbehaviour. The increased use of kettles and bubbles and the likelihood of significantly larger numbers of Football Banning Orders being applied for in a World Cup year should be a concern not just for football supporters but for all civil libertarians.
Benoit Keane - topic to watch in 2014
The key topic to watch in EU sports law in 2014 will be good governance. This requires sports to safeguard against both internal and external threats. The external threat to be addressed is corruption in sport. If European governments succeed this coming year in adopting an international convention tackling corruption in sport then a historic step will have been taken to addressing this threat. The internal threat remains the financial crisis in sport arising from speculative practices, in particular for football. Financial fair play regulations are indispensable to addressing this crisis and their enforcement will be one of the key issues for 2014.
Chris Duffy – topic to watch in 2014
As well as looking out for a potential appeal from Topshop (see key cases of 2013), I am interested to see if there are any further developments with the situation surrounding Diego Costa and his international allegiances. Turning your back on the most famous footballing nation in the world only a few months before they host the World Cup would not have been the play of too many football fans around the globe, but Costa has incurred the wrath of the Brazilian Football Confederation for stating his desire to represent Spain going forward. After playing in two friendly matches for Brazil in 2013 he was due to represent Spain in November but withdrew through injury. Whether this is coincidental or in fact linked to the threat from the CBF to commence legal proceedings against Costa to withdraw his Brazilian citizenship remains to be seen. In any event, with the 2022 event in Qatar on the horizon and rumours circulating of many more similar scenarios resulting in advance of this, it will be interesting to see if FIFA or other bodies make any further statements or rule changes on the issue of nationality and eligibility.
Kendrah Potts – topic to watch in 2014
It is hard to look beyond integrity and match-fixing issues following recent events. Sports need clear anti-corruption rules and suitable education programmes, as well as processes for identifying breaches and gathering evidence to ensure that corrupt players are banned from the sport. Facilitating greater cooperation, not only within and across sports but also with law enforcement, would greatly assist the fight against corruption in sport.
Jon Walters – topic to watch in 2014
Wearable technology. It's making waves in fashion, technology and music - witness Google glass, any Lady Gaga concert or the latest London Fashion Week - and it is set to revolutionise how we view and interact with sport. While the role of technology in training and recording sports performances is well established, it is early days for its role in enhancing the fan experience through its use on athletes. SkySports' experimentation with cameras fitted to referees has been a success and 2014 will see a marked move towards wearable technology for athletes. It is not often that I can cite World's Strongest Man as a pioneering force in sports broadcasting, but this great Christmas viewing institution has led the way (along with the International Triathlon Union) in providing live feeds of athletes' heart rates during events. This is fascinating and informative data and paves the way for heart rates, blood pressure, body temperature, sweat count, speed tracking and the like forming part of mainstream sport broadcasts. As ever, lawyers will not be far away from this development, as the rights to track and disseminate that data will no doubt be closely fought by broadcasters, federations, leagues, players, teams and sponsors.
Alfonso Valero - topic to watch in 2014
I would say the action of the EU Commission against Spain for the possible breach of State aid rules by financing football with tax advantages. This will be a really interesting development to look at not only in Spain, but also in other countries like France and Italy where the dividing line between government and sport is blurred and it could be considered that there exists aid to the national clubs.
John Wolohan - topic to watch in 2014
A case that is being closely watched by sports lawyers and college administrators in the United States, due to the implications it could potentially have on the future of college athletics, is the NCAA Student-Athlete Name & Likeness Litigation. The case involves a group of former and current Division I men's basketball and football players who are suing the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) over the organization’s use of the athletes' names, images and likenesses in EA Sports NCAA Basketball and football video games. In addition to seeking damages for violating their image rights, the lawsuit also claims that the NCAA’s conduct violated Federal Antitrust law and the players are seeking to share in the billions of dollars the NCAA and colleges earn in television and licensing revenue off the athletes’ images.
If it loses the case, which is set for trial in June 2014, the NCAA and schools will no longer be able to hide behind archaic NCAA rules prohibiting athletes from being paid. In fact, the NCAA and schools will be forced to treat the student athletes as partners sharing the organization’s revenue from the licensing and television, thereby, fundamentally changing the relationship between the NCAA and the athletes forever.
Jack Anderson - topic to watch in 2014
I pick Moore v Bertuzzi …again (see Top cases of 2013). During a National Hockey League (NHL) game on 8 March 2004, Todd Bertuzzi then with the Vancouver Canucks, struck Steve Moore, then with the Colorado Avalanche Hockey Club, from behind and drove his face onto the ice causing Moore serious spinal, concussive injury and ending his career in the NHL. There was a suggestion at the time that the punch-up was “payback” for an incident in an earlier game between Moore and another Canucks player, Markus Naslund. The incident was highly publicised and was described as one of the most violent attacks in NHL history, tarnishing the image of Canada’s national sport.
In March 2004, Bertuzzi was suspended for the remainder of the season by the NHL. The ban ultimately resulted in him missing 20 games, being prohibited from competing internationally and losing about Can$500,000 in forfeited salary and Can $350,000 in endorsements. On 22 December 2004, Bertuzzi pleaded guilty to a charge of assault causing bodily harm in R v Bertuzzi, 2004 BCPC 472 (CanLII), a civil action by Moore was commenced on 14 February 2006 for damages arising out of the career-ending assault and included a claim in vicarious liability against Bertuzzi’s then employers. The claim has been delayed and obstructed in the courts on numerous occasions (the case history can be found by entering Moore v Bertuzzi in https://canlii.ca) The reasons for the delay include: Bertuzzi’s claim that given the publicity surrounding the affair, he could never receive a fair trial; Bertuzzi also claimed that he was only following the orders of his coach as he was contractually obliged to do so and thus if anyone should be held personally liable it was the coach – in a subsequently action the coach in question counterclaimed that Bertuzzi had acted in direct disobedience from the bench to get off the ice before attacking Moore (case was eventually settled). More recently, there has been some contestation as to the medical evidence on the extent of Moore’s injuries.
The latest update, and one to look out for in 2014, is that the claim for Can$38million (just over £20million) will be heard in Toronto on 8 September 2014. The huge amount of compensation relates to the severity of the career-ending injuries and the loss of earnings e.g., in the nine paying seasons that have passed since the event, Bertuzzi has been paid more than Can$25million by five different employing teams; Moore has received nothing.
Andrew Nixon - topic to watch in 2014
From a regulatory perspective, FIFPro’s legal challenge against the transfer system. The challenge could have severe repercussions for the method in which players are traded, and how it plays out will be a hot topic for 2014.
Paul Greene - topic to watch in 2014
In 2014, I am curious to see what kinds of disputes will arise out of the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi and which will be heard by the Ad Hoc Panel of the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Mark Hovell - topic to watch in 2014
For 2014 – it looks like the usual cocktail of drugs, corruption and financial irregularities!
Oliver Rumsey - topic to watch in 2014
My prediction for 2014, I would definitely say match-fixing is the issue to watch and any sport that thinks it’s immune is living in a fantasy land.
Ariel Reck - topic to watch in 2014
In my view, cases to watch in 2014 are those related to UEFA´s Financial Fair Play System and the initial application of the “break even rule” with many potentially conflictive cases (i.e. PSG or Manchester City)"