How Law Regulates Sports- A Brief Analysis On International Sports Arbitration
Author: Roudro Mukhopadhyay, OP Jindal University
The sports industry is about more than just entertainment. Instead, it is an industry-created by intertwined partnerships with several separate groups, including players, sports organizations, federations, sports clubs, and so forth. Over the years, the sports market has expanded, and the modern world sports industry is predicted to expand in the next few years to over USD 100 billion. The Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland has been forming the limits of international sports conflict resolution since its foundation. The number of cases taken to the CAS indicates that it works like a global leader in the arbitration of international sports. In addition, the fact that the acceptance of the CAS by the laws of major sports institutions has a considerable effect on the reputation of the CAS in international sports arbitration is unquestionable
The sports industry is about more than just entertainment. Instead, it is an industry-created byintertwined partnerships with several separate groups, including players, sports organizations, federations, sports clubs, and so forth. Over the years, the sports market has expanded, and the modern world sports industry is predicted to expand in the next few years to over USD 100 billion. The Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland has been forming the limits of international sports conflict resolution since its foundation. The number of cases taken to the CAS indicates that it works like anglobal leader in the arbitration of international sports. In addition, the fact that the acceptance of the CAS by the laws of major sports institutions has a considerable effect on the reputation of the CAS in international sports arbitration is unquestionable.[i]
If one acknowledges it or not, it has been found that sport dominates our lives on a regular basis. In the newspapers, on the streets, in shops, we are overwhelmed by it and now the multinational sport is forcing the legal community to take notice. Sport is a massive industry, responsible for more than 3% of international trade and 1% of the total GNP of the 15 European Union Member States (EU).
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) is an international arbitral court that resolves international sports-related issues such as work contract infringements; players’ fitness, termination, qualification, and transfer; conflicts over sponsorship and broadcasting rights; disciplinary action and athlete cheating, etc. All of these categories of disputes shall be referred to CAS where the settlement between the parties includes an arbitration provision in favour of CAS, or if CAS is designated under the laws, rules, or regulations of a sports-related body as the appellate body of its rulings. Its French title, Tribunal Arbitral du Sport, is also known (TAS).[ii]
Since the sports sector is so broad, it’s unsurprising that it is also a significant source of legal conflicts. However, of special concern to the international arbitration community is the fact that arbitration is now clearly known as the mechanism of choice for conflict settlement in the sports industry, with the Lausanne Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) now accepting a new case nearly every working day.Its pace is the most apparent and perhaps the most important defining characteristic in sports arbitration.
The legal theory that ‘justice deferred is justice withheld’ may not be more applicable than when addressing sports conflict resolution. In the sporting sense, the specific urgency derives from the fact that the entire sports business revolves around a sequence of daily sports activities and competitions: in order to be successful in settling a sports conflict, it must usually be settled before a particular match or event takes place.[iii]It is therefore important to rapidly settle sports disputes attributed to the reason that the lives of athletes are usually very brief, so any extended period of spending in arbitration will have a very major negative effect on the future of a sportsman.
In the Indian courts, the new system has led to a large number of cases being stacked up and justice postponed. In India, many organizations, including the National Sports Policy of India, the Sports Authority of India (SAI), the Sports Broadcasting Laws, and the Sports Law and Welfare Associations of India, make up the regulatory bodies for issues relating to sports. These organizations handle and seek to control, apart from the judiciary, the problems that occur in the field of sports law in the world.
In 2011, however, the Indian Court of Arbitration for Sports (ICAS) was created as an agency to apply the ADR process in the field of sports to settle conflicts in the most effective way possible. This has been accomplished because an athlete’s lifetime is reduced and they do not afford to waste time in lawsuits. An indefinite restriction was held on the wrestler’s career in the famous case in which Indian wrestler Narsingh Yadav was involved in a doping dispute ahead of the 2016 Rio Olympics.[iv]In that event, when CAS upheld the World Anti-Doping Agency’s appeal against the clean sheet granted to him the decision was decided. Yet amid the running life of the players in question, there are also many instances facing lengthy court trials.
That athletes need to play under a certain set of regulations and that cannot be contested; this is the essence of international sport. It should not be doubted that the CAS serves an important role, but the introduction of the CAS’s strict liability system has indeed been inconvenient for some athletes. The private legislation of the CAS strips away the right of a state to exert power over its athletes, the institution has uncontrolled independent disciplinary forces, ignores transparency, and gives scarcely any redress to athletes for whom “justice” is unjust. The validity of the CAS is due to the fact that it is approved and permitted by the State, but in delegating its jurisdiction, the State must remember that it has a duty to uphold the interests of its citizens.[v]
Till now, however, it has proven to be a very common and reliable body for solving a wide variety of sports disputes inside the community of sport rather than in the frequently competitive and costly atmosphere of ordinary courts, reasonably, easily, rapidly, and comparatively inexpensively. Its systems are user-friendly and versatile and most of the cases responded to are handled within months rather than years.[vi]
Arbitration has proved to be an immensely successful way to settle sporting disputes, winning the favour and trust of the sporting community as a result. This success has undoubtedly led to a huge rise in recent years in the number of sports arbitrations occurring. Indeed, the greatest problem facing the sports arbitration community is a need to bring systems in place to make sure that the rise in the number of arbitrations does not result in a reduction of the standard of the awards being given.[vii] Thus, there is no question that arbitration would be a safer choice than litigation that conveys the dispute settlement process in sports law.
[i]Gürman, ŞuleUluç, and Ş EfsaneYalçın. Law in Sports: International Sports Arbitration. 15 Mar. 2018, http://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=26d596bc-2e14-414e-a59d-ff23bbbe12f8.
[ii]Blackshaw, Ian. “The Court of Arbitration for Sport: An international forum for settling disputes effectively within the family of sport.” Ent. L. 2 (2003): 61.
[iii]Rigozzi, Antonio & McAuliffe, William. (2013). Sports Arbitration. GAR – The European & Middle Eastern Arbitration Review. 15-22.
[iv]Yadav, Shivang, and Harshit Gupta. “Arbitration in the Realm of Sports Law – Need of the Hour or Not?” Jurist, 29 Apr. 2020, http://www.jurist.org/commentary/2020/04/yadav-gupta-sports-arbitration/.
[v]Hewitt, Melissa. “An Unbalanced Act: A Criticism of How the Court of Arbitration for Sport Issues Unjustly Harsh Sanctions by Attempting to Regulate Doping in Sport.” Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies 22.2 (2015): 769-787.
[vi]Blackshaw, supra note 82.
[vii]Rigozzi, supra note 20.