Editor's note: Jeremy Abel
is a recent graduate of the LL.M in International Business Law and Sports of
the University of Lausanne.
South African athlete Caster Semenya is in the last lap of her long legal
battle for her right to run without changing the natural testosterone in her
body. After losing her cases before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS)
and the Swiss Federal Tribunal, she filed an application
before the European Court of Human Rights (Court). In the meantime, the Court
a summary of her complaint and a series of questions addressed to the parties
of the case.
As is well
known, she is challenging the World Athletics’ Eligibility
Regulations for the Female Classification (Regulations) defining the conditions under which female
and intersex athletes with certain types of differences of sex development
(DSDs) can compete in international athletics events. Despite the Regulations
emanating from World Athletics, the last round of her legal battle is against a
new opponent: Switzerland.
of this article is to revisit the Semenya case from a European
Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) perspective while considering certain
excellent points made by previous contributors (see here,
to this blog. Therefore, the blog will follow the basic structure of an ECHR
case. The following issues raised by Semenya shall be analysed: the applicability
of the ECHR, Semenya’s right to private life (Article 8 ECHR) and to non
discrimination (Article 14 ECHR), as well as the proportionality of the
On Thursday 14 October 2021 from 16.00-17.30 CET, the Asser International Sports Law Centre, in collaboration with Dr Marjolaine Viret (University of Lausanne), will be launching the second season of the Zoom-In webinar series, with a first episode on Diversity at the Court of Arbitration for Sport: Time for a Changing of the Guard?
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) is a well-known mainstay of
global sport. It has the exclusive competence over challenges against
decisions taken by most international sports governing bodies and its
jurisprudence covers a wide range of issues (doping, corruption,
match-fixing, financial fair play, transfer or selection disputes)
including disciplinary sanctions and governance disputes. In recent
years, the CAS has rendered numerous awards which triggered world-wide
public interest, such as in the Semenya v World Athletics case or the
case between WADA and RUSADA resulting from the Russian doping scandal
(we discussed both cases in previous Zoom-In discussion available here and here). In short, the CAS has tremendous influence on the shape of global sport and its governance.
However, as we will discuss during this webinar, recent work has
shown that the arbitrators active at the CAS are hardly reflective of
the diversity of people its decisions ultimately affect. This in our
view warrants raising the question of the (urgent) need to change the
(arbitral) guard at the CAS. To address these issues with us, we have
invited two speakers who have played an instrumental role in putting
numbers on impressions widely shared by those in contact with the CAS:
Prof. Johan Lindholm (Umea University) and attorney-at-law Lisa Lazarus (Morgan Sports Law). Johan recently published a ground-breaking monograph on The Court of Arbitration for Sport and Its Jurisprudence
in which he applies empirical and quantitative methods to analyse the
work of the CAS. This included studying the sociological characteristics
of CAS arbitrators. Lisa and her colleagues at Morgan Sports Law very
recently released a blog post on Arbitrator Diversity at the Court of Arbitration for Sport,
which reveals a stunning lack of diversity (based on their
calculations, 4,5% of appointed CAS arbitrators are female and 0,2% are
black) at the institution ruling over global sport.
Register for free HERE.
Zoom In webinar series
In December 2020, The Asser International Sports Law Centre in collaboration with Dr Marjolaine Viret launched a new series of zoom webinars on transnational sports law: Zoom In. You can watch the video recordings of our past Zoom In webinars on the Asser Institute’s Youtube Channel.
Editor's note: Rhys was an intern at the T.M.C. Asser Institute. He now advises on investments and Notre acquisitions in sport (mainly football) via Lovelle Street Advisory. Following a career as a professional athlete, Rhys has spent much of his professional life as an international sports agent, predominantly operating in football. Rhys has a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) and a Bachelor of Philosophy (B.Phil.) from the University of Dame, Sydney, Australia. He is currently completing an LL.M at the University of Zurich in International Business Law / International Sports Law.
Having looked at the different types of
investors in football in part one of this two-part blog series, “A
non-exhaustive Typology”, it is fitting to now consider the regulations
that apply to investors who seek to build a portfolio of football clubs.
One way to measure the momentum of a
particular practice and how serious it ought to be taken, might be when that
practice earns its own initialism. Multi-club ownership or MCO as it is
increasingly known today, is the name given to those entities that have an
ownership stake in multiple clubs. Within the little research and writing that
has been undertaken on the topic, some authors submit that investors with
minority stakes in multiple clubs ought not to be captured by the MCO
definition. This position appears
problematic given some of the regulations draw the line at influence rather
are now approximately 50 MCO’s across the football world that own approximately
Given the way MCO is trending, one might consider it important that the
regulations keep up with the developing MCO practice, so as to ensure the
integrity of football competitions, and to regulate any other potentially
questionable benefit an MCO might derive that would be contrary to football’s
In this blog, I focus on the variety of
ways (and levels at which) this practice is being regulated. I will move through the football pyramid from
member associations (MA’s) to FIFA, laying the foundations to support a proposition
that FIFA and only FIFA is positioned to regulate MCO. More...
On Wednesday 14 July 2021 from 16.00-17.30 CET, the Asser International Sports Law Centre, in collaboration with Dr Marjolaine Viret, is organizing a Zoom In webinar on Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter and the right to free speech of athletes.
As the Tokyo Olympics are drawing closer, the International Olympic Committee just released new Guidelines on the implementation of Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter.
The latter Rule provides that ‘no kind of demonstration or political,
religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues
or other areas’. The latest IOC Guidelines did open up some space for
athletes to express their political views, but at the same time continue
to ban any manifestation from the Olympic Village or the Podium. In
effect, Rule 50 imposes private restrictions on the freedom of
expression of athletes in the name of the political neutrality of
international sport. This limitation on the rights of athletes is far from uncontroversial
and raises intricate questions regarding its legitimacy,
proportionality and ultimately compatibility with human rights standards
(such as with Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights).
This webinar aims at critically engaging with Rule 50 and its
compatibility with the fundamental rights of athletes. We will discuss
the content of the latest IOC Guidelines regarding Rule 50, the
potential justifications for such a Rule, and the alternatives to its
restrictions. To do so, we will be joined by three speakers, Professor Mark James from Manchester Metropolitan University, who has widely published on the Olympic Games and transnational law; Chui Ling Goh, a Doctoral Researcher at Melbourne Law School, who has recently released an (open access) draft of an article on Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter; and David Grevemberg, Chief
Innovation and Partnerships Officer at the Centre for Sport and Human
Rights, and former Chief Executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation
- Prof. Mark James (Metropolitan Manchester University)
- Chui Ling Goh (PhD candidate, University of Melbourne)
- David Grevemberg (Centre for Sport and Human Rights)
Free Registration HERE
Editor's note: Rhys is currently making research and
writing contributions under Dr Antoine Duval at the T.M.C. Asser Institute with
a focus on Transnational Sports Law. Additionally, Rhys is the ‘Head of
Advisory’ of Athlon CIF, a global fund and capital advisory firm specialising
in the investment in global sports organisations and sports assets.
Rhys has a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) and
Bachelor of Philosophy (B.Phil.) from the University of Notre Dame, Sydney,
Australia. Rhys is an LL.M candidate at the University of Zurich, in
International Sports Law. Following a career as a professional athlete, Rhys
has spent much of his professional life as an international sports agent,
predominantly operating in football.
Rhys is also the host of the podcast
In the following two-part blog series, I
will start by outlining a short typology of investors in football in recent
years, in order to show the emergence of different varieties of investors who
seek to use football as a means to a particular end. I will then in a second
blog, explore the regulatory landscape across different countries, with a
particular focus on the regulatory approach to multi-club ownership. Before
moving forward, I must offer a disclaimer of sorts. In addition to my research and writing
contributions with the Asser Institute, I am the ‘Head of Advisory’ for Athlon
CIF, a global fund and capital advisory firm specialising in the investment in
global sports organisations and sports assets. I appreciate and hence must flag
that I will possess a bias when it comes to investment in football.
It might also be noteworthy to point out
that this new wave of investment in sport, is not exclusive to football. I
have recently written elsewhere about CVC Capital Partners’ US$300 million
investment in Volleyball, and perhaps the message that lingers behind such
a deal. CVC has also shown an interest
in rugby and recently acquired
a 14.3 per cent stake in the ‘Six Nations Championship’, to the tune of £365
million. New Zealand’s 26 provincial
rugby unions recently voted unanimously in favour of a proposal to sell 12.5
per cent of NZ Rugby’s commercial rights to Silver Lake Partners for NZ$387.5
million. Consider also the apparent
partnership between star footballer’s investment group, Gerard Pique’s
Kosmos, and the International Tennis Federation. Kosmos is further backed by Hiroshi
Mikitani’s ecommerce institution, Rakuten, and all involved claim to desire an
overhaul of the Davis Cup that will apparently transform it into the ‘World Cup
of Tennis’. Grassroots projects, prizemoney for tennis players and extra
funding for member nations are other areas the partnership claims to be
concerned with. As is the case with all investment plays of this flavour, one
can be certain that a return on the capital injection is also of interest.
So, what are we to conclude from the trends
of investment in sport and more specifically for this blog series, in football?
A typology elucidates that a multiplicity of investors have in recent years
identified football as a means to achieve different ends. This blog considers
three particular objectives pursued; direct financial return, branding in the
case of company investment, or the branding and soft power strategies of
Editor's note: Rusa Agafonova is a PhD Candidate at the University of Zurich, Switzerland
The Olympic Games are the cornerstone event of the Olympic Movement as a
socio-cultural phenomenon as well as the engine of its economic model. Having worldwide
exposure, the Olympic Games guarantee
the International Olympic Committee (IOC) exclusive nine-digit sponsorship
deals. The revenue generated by the Games is later redistributed by the IOC
down the sports pyramid to the International Federations (IFs), National
Olympic Committees (NOCs) and other participants of the Olympic Movement through
a so-called "solidarity mechanism". In other words, the Games
constitute a vital source of financing for the Olympic Movement.
Because of the money involved, the IOC is protective when it comes to
staging the Olympics. This is notably so with respect to ambush marketing which
can have detrimental economic impact for sports governing bodies (SGBs) running
mega-events. The IOC's definition of ambush marketing covers any intentional and
non-intentional use of intellectual property associated with the Olympic Games as
well as the misappropriation of images associated with them without authorisation
from the IOC and the organising committee.
This definition is broad as are the IOC's anti-ambush rules.More...
Editor's note: Lindsay Brandon is Associate Attorney at Law Offices of Howard
“Tell the white people of America and
all over the world that if they don’t seem to care for the things black people
do, they should not go to see black people perform.” – American sprinter and Olympic Medalist John Carlos
On 21 April 2021, the Athletes’ Commission
(AC) of the International Olympic Committee (“IOC”) received
the “full support of the IOC Executive Board for a set of recommendations in
regard to the Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter and Athlete Expression at the
Olympic Games.” This came over a year after the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games were
postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and almost a year after the IOC and AC
embarked on an “extensive qualitative and quantitative” consultation process to
reform Rule 50 involving over
3,500 athletes from around the globe.
Since its introduction of the new
guidelines in January 2020, Rule
50 has been touted by the IOC as a means to protect the neutrality of sport
and the Olympic Games, stating that “No kind of demonstration or political,
religious or radical propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues, or
other areas.” In other words, the
Olympics are a time to celebrate sport, and any political act or demonstration
might ruin their “moment
In fact, the Rule 50 Guidelines say
that a fundamental principle of sport is that it is neutral, and “must be
separate from political, religious or any other type of interference.” But this
separation is not necessarily rooted in totality in modern sports culture,
particularly in the United States (“U.S.”).
This is evidenced by the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee
to not sanctioning Team USA athletes for protesting at the Olympics. The
USOPC Athletes stated “Prohibiting athletes to freely express their views
during the Games, particularly those from historically underrepresented and
minoritized groups, contributes to the dehumanization of athletes that is at
odds with key Olympic and Paralympic values.” More...
Editor's note: Yuri Yagi is a sports lawyer involved in Sports Federations and Japanese Sports Organizations including the Japan Equestrian
Federation (JEF), the International Equestrian Federation (FEI), the Japanese
Olympic Committee (JOC), the Japan Sports Council (JSC) and the All-Japan High School Equestrian Federation.
Japan has held
three Olympic Games since the inception of the modern Olympics;Tokyo Summer
Olympic Games in 1964, Sapporo Winter Olympic Games in 1972, and Nagano Winter
Olympic Games in 1998. Therefore, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (Tokyo 2020) are supposed to
be the fourth to be held in Japan, the second for Tokyo. Tokyo 2020 were
originally scheduled for 24 July 2020 to 9 August 2020. Interestingly, the word
‘postpone’ or ‘postponement’ does not appear in the Host City Contract (HCC).
However, the International
Olympic Committee (IOC), the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG), the Japanese
Olympic Committee (JOC), and the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and
Paralympic Games (TOCOG) decided on 24 March 2020 that Tokyo 2020 would be
postponed because of the pandemic of COVID-19. Later on, the exact dates were fixed
‘from 23 July 2021 (date of the Opening Ceremony) to 8 August 2021 (date of the
The process of the
decision is stipulated in the ‘ADDENDUM N° 4’ signed by IOC, TMG, JOC and TOCOG.
This paper provides
an overview of the current situation, along with legal and other issues in
Japan that have arisen due to the postponement of Tokyo 2020 due to COVID-19.
The overview is offered from the perspective of a citizen of the host city and
includes a consideration of national polls, the torch relay, vaccination,
training camps, ever increasing costs, and the related provisions in the
Candidature File and the Host City Contract. More...
Editor's note: Prof. Dr. Ekşi is a full-time lecturer and chair of
Department of Private International Law at Özyeğin University Faculty of Law.
Prof. Ekşi is the founder and also editor in chief of the Istanbul Journal
of Sports Law which has been in publication since 2019.
Editor's note: Anna Antseliovich heads the sports practice at the Moscow-based legal group Clever Consult. She also works as a senior researcher at the Federal Science Center for Physical Culture and Sport (Russia).
The Olympic Games have always been a source of
genuine interest for spectators as Olympians have repeatedly demonstrated astounding
capacity of the human body and mind in winning Olympic gold, or by achieving
success despite all odds.
At the ancient and even the first modern
Olympic Games, there was no concept of a national team; each Olympian represented
only himself/herself. However, at the 1906 Intercalated Games for
the first time, athletes were nominated by the National Olympic Committees
(‘NOCs’) and competed as members of national teams representing their
respective countries. At the opening ceremony, the athletes walked under the
flags of their countries. This was a major shift, which meant that not only the
athletes themselves competed against each other, but so too did the nations in
unofficial medal standings.
The nomination and selection of athletes by their
NOCs to compete under their national flag and represent their country is a
matter of pride for the vast majority of athletes. However, to what extent does
such a scheme correspond to the ideals which the Olympic Games were based on in
ancient times? Is it possible to separate sport and politics in the modern