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
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...
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: 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: 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: 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: Stephen Weatherill is the Jacques Delors
Professor of European Law at Oxford University. He also serves as Deputy
Director for European Law in the Institute of European and Comparative
Law, and is a Fellow of Somerville College. This blog appeared first on
eulawanalysis.blogspot.com and is reproduced here with the agreement of
The crumbling of the ‘SuperLeague’ is a source of joy to many football
fans, but the very fact that such an idea could be advanced reveals
something troublingly weak about the internal governance of football in
Europe – UEFA’s most of all – and about the inadequacies of legal
regulation practised by the EU and/ or by states. This note explains why
a SuperLeague is difficult to stop under the current pattern of legal
regulation and why accordingly reform is required in order to defend the
European model of sport with more muscularity. More...
note: Thomas Terraz is a L.LM. candidate in
the European Law programme at Utrecht University and a former intern of the Asser International Sports Law Centre
1. Sport Nationalism is Politics
Despite all efforts, the
Olympic Games has been and will be immersed in politics. Attempts to shield the
Games from social and political realities are almost sure to miss their mark
and potentially risk being disproportionate. Moreover, history has laid bare
the shortcomings of the attempts to create a sanitized and impenetrable bubble
around the Games. The first
blog of this series examined the idea of the Games as a sanitized space and
dived into the history of political neutrality within the Olympic Movement to
unravel the irony that while the IOC aims to keep the Olympic Games ‘clean’ of
any politics within its ‘sacred enclosure’, the IOC and the Games itself are largely
enveloped in politics. Politics seep into the cracks of this ‘sanitized’ space through:
(1) public protests (and their suppression by authoritarian regimes hosting the
Games), (2) athletes who use their public image to take a political stand, (3) the
IOC who takes decisions on recognizing national Olympic Committees (NOCs) and awarding
the Games to countries,
and (4) states that use the Games for geo-political posturing. With
this background in mind, the aim now is to illustrate the disparity between the
IOC’s stance on political neutrality when it concerns athlete protest versus
sport nationalism, which also is a form of politics.
As was mentioned in part
one of this series, the very first explicit mention of politics in the Olympic
Charter was in its 1946 version and aimed to combat ‘the nationalization of
sports for political aims’ by preventing ‘a national exultation of success
achieved rather than the realization of the common and harmonious objective
which is the essential Olympic law’ (emphasis added). This sentiment was
further echoed some years later by Avery Brundage (IOC President (1952-1972))
when he declared: ‘The Games are not, and must not become, a contest between
nations, which would be entirely contrary to the spirit of the Olympic Movement
and would surely lead to disaster’. Regardless
of this vision to prevent sport nationalism engulfing the Games and its
codification in the Olympic Charter, the current reality paints quite a
different picture. One simply has to look at the mass obsession with medal
tables during the Olympic Games and its amplification not only by the media but
even by members of the Olympic Movement.
This is further exacerbated when the achievements of athletes are used for domestic
political gain or when they are used to
glorify a nation’s prowess on the global stage or to stir nationalism within a
nationalism is politics. Arguably, even the worship of national imagery during
the Games from the opening ceremony to the medal ceremonies cannot be
depoliticized. In many ways, the IOC has turned
a blind eye to the politics rooted in these expressions of sport nationalism
and instead has focused its energy to sterilize its Olympic spaces and stifle political
expression from athletes. One of the ways the IOC has ignored sport nationalism
is through its tacit acceptance of medal tables although they are expressly
banned by the Olympic Charter.
At this point, the rules restricting
athletes’ political protest and those concerning sport nationalism,
particularly in terms of medal tables, will be scrutinized in order to highlight
the enforcement gap between the two. More...
Editor's note: Michele Krech is a JSD Candidate and SSHRC Doctoral Fellow at NYU School of Law. She was retained as a consultant by counsel for Caster Semenya in the proceedings before the Court of Arbitration for Sport discussed above. She also contributed to two reports mentioned in this blog post: the Report of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Intersection of race and gender discrimination in sport (June 2020); and the Human Rights Watch Report, “They’re Chasing Us Away from Sport”: Human Rights Violations in Sex Testing of Elite Women Athletes (December 2020).
This blog was first published by the Völkerrechtsblog and is republished here with authorization. Michele Krech will be joining our next Zoom In webinar on 31 March to discuss the next steps in the Caster Semenya case.
Sport is the field par excellence in which discrimination
against intersex people has been made most visible.
Commissioner for Human Rights, Council of Europe
Issue Paper: Human rights and intersex people (2015)
Olympic and world champion athlete Caster Semenya
is asking the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) to make sure all
women athletes are “allowed to run free, for once and for all”. Semenya
brings her application against Switzerland, which has allowed a private
sport association and a private sport court to decide – with only the
most minimal appellate review by a national judicial authority – what it
takes for women, legally and socially identified as such all their
lives, to count as women in the context of athletics. I consider how
Semenya’s application might bring human rights, sex, and sport into
conversation in ways not yet seen in a judicial forum. More...
Editor’s note: Rhys Lenarduzzi recently
completed a Bachelor of Law (LL.B) and Bachelor of Philosophy (B.Phil.) at the
University of Notre Dame, Sydney, Australia. As a former professional athlete,
then international sports agent and consultant, Rhys is interested in
international sports law, policy and ethics. He is currently undertaking an
internship at the T.M.C. Asser Institute with a focus on Transnational Sports
As one may have gathered from the series
thus far, the question that comes out of this endeavour for me, is whether
redistribution in football would be better divorced from the transfer system?
In my introductory
blog I point towards historical,
cultural, and of course the legal explanations as to why redistribution was
established, and why it might be held onto despite obvious flaws. In my second
blog, I point out how the training
compensation and solidarity mechanisms work in practice through an African case
study, as well as the hindrance caused and the Eurocentricity of the
regulations. The key take-away from my third
blog on the non-application of training
compensation in women’s football might be that training compensation should
apply to both men’s and women’s football, or neither. The sweeping
generalisation that men’s and women’s football are different as justification for
the non-application to the women’s game is not palatable, given inter alia
the difference between the richest and poorest clubs in men’s football. Nor is
it palatable that the training compensation mechanism is justified in men’s
football to incentivise training, yet not in women’s football.
In the fourth
blog of this series, I raise concerns that
the establishment of the Clearing House prolongs the arrival of a preferable
alternative system. The feature of this final blog is to consider alternatives
to the current systems. This endeavour is manifestly two-fold; firstly, are
there alternatives? Secondly, are they better? More...