International Sports Law : An Introductory Guide by Ian S. Blackshaw Review by Dr. Despina Mavromati
This short book is a new addition to the literature on sports law. It encapsulates - in 150 pages – many important international sports law issues by providing a handy overview and is addressed to a wide audience and even readers with little knowledge of sports law.
In a Foreword to the Book, Prof. Steve Cornelius from the International Sports Law Centre of the University of Pretoria, South Africa, praises the author for providing a broad glimpse of sports law as a subject and maintaining the significance of each part within a very limited space. Indeed, this task requires a high level of experience.
The Book is divided into 15 short chapters introduced each time by an abstract and a list of keywords, with very few bibliographic references. After the first introductory chapter defining Olympism and sports but also sports’ increasing economic importance through the latest years, the Author presents the two different models of sports, namely the European model with its “pyramidal” structure and the more professionalized US model (which is very shortly presented). Furthermore, readers can learn about the selfregulatory character of sports within the broader system of civil law and common law systems and take a foretaste of some renowned civil- and criminal law proceedings related to sports.
The Chapter on Sports’ Governing Bodies occupies, rightly in my opinion, a more generous part of the book: apart from the description of the structure and role of the IOC and the national sports bodies, we find some pages dedicated to the exclusion of the jurisdiction of state courts in favour of ADR methods.
Other Chapters include the somehow less explored – but very interesting - topics in the international sports law literature, namely IP and Sports (with some major IP cases
in sports, like the Barcelona FC Trademark Case), Sports Image Rights and TV & New Media Rights (chapters 5-7).
With respect to the very important – at least from the European sports law perspective – issue of football labour contracts and transfers – the Author limits his analysis to a few number of pages, duly acknowledging this due to the practical constraints of the “introductory guide” form of the book. However, in my view - and in view of the increasing importance of (European) football worldwide - some more information, e.g. on the FIFA Transfer Matching System or other important regulatory elements surrounding football transfers, would be desirable.
The book also comprises an overview of the interaction between sport and European law through some of the most important judgments rendered in the field (e.g. the Bosman case, the Meca-Medina case) and the regulatory framework established by the institutions of the European Union.
The Chapter on Doping – a topic of paramount importance in the recent sports regulatory scheme - is limited in a two-page overview of the WADA Code and the Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUE), with a supplement on the Russian doping scandal at the 2016 Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games. Again, in my opinion and notwithstanding the constraints inherent to an introductory guide like this, it would be optimal to have a longer overview of the antidoping regulatory regime but also an explanation as to how these disciplinary cases are heard by the national antidoping authorities and, in some cases, by the CAS.
Other chapters include the issue of human rights in sports and to corruption in sports (not only football but also other disciplines like cricket) and are accompanied by some major cases in the field.
The last lengthy chapter of the book is devoted to an extremely important topic, which is the one of dispute resolution in sports. Sports disputes are primarily resolved by ADR methods, and the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) with its seat in Lausanne is undeniably the most important arbitral institution at international level. However, the overview of CAS is short, focusing on the institutional framework rather than the
ordinary and appeal procedures and the specific CAS Rules. The chapter includes a description of landmark cases brought before the CAS and, subsequently, before the Swiss Federal Tribunal. Additionally, the chapter presents the FIFA Dispute Resolution Chamber (DRC) but also provides a surprisingly lengthy overview of the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center and some important cases.
Overall, I found this book to be a handy guide aimed at providing a general idea to readers interested in starting to explore the different facets of international sports law. The book is drafted in a clear and understandable way and the Author systematically explains the basic concepts and principles of sports law, which makes it accessible even to readers without legal background. Dr. Despina Mavromati, Attorney (SportLegis) and Visiting Professor at the Universities of Lausanne (Switzerland) and Western Ontario (Canada); formerly Managing Counsel at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).