Published 29 December 2019
By: Chris Bond
As a new year (and a new decade!) begins, we wanted to take the opportunity to identify and provide some insights into what we think will be the top sports law issues to watch out for in 2020.
We therefore invited each member of our Editorial Board to write a short summary of their highlights. Below are the responses from our African and Middle Eastern members. We hope this proves useful not only in identifying specific cases and issues, but also in detecting broader themes and giving a feel for the zeitgeist when read in conjunction with the contributions from other jurisdictions.
We would like to thank each member of our Editorial Board for taking the time out of their busy schedules to share their views with us, and also more broadly for their significant input into LawInSport over the course of the year. Thank you.
Steve Bainbridge, Head of Sports Law & Events Management, Al Tamimi & Company, UAE
Mega events & employee rights
Saudi Arabia’s continued dramatic growth in hosting top sporting events looks set to continue apace in 2020. Building on a headline 2019 growth in staging significant sporting events such as the recent Clash on the Dunes, the Joshua v Ruiz rematch in Diriyah, the highly anticipated heavyweight professional boxing rematch for the unified WBA (Super), IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight world titles; and the Diriyah Tennis Cup, the first professional tennis tournament ever to be staged in Saudi Arabia featuring eight of the finest men’s players, 2020 already looks set to add a wide range of events. These will include the Spanish Super-Cup Tournament to be held in Riyadh, in January between Atletico de Madrid, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Valencia; the Dakar Rally 2020, also in January; and the Saudi Cup, the world richest horse race in Riyadh in February. These new events add to the impressive existing calendar that includes professional golf, WWE, Formula E amongst a growing list of tournaments.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) notes the endeavour of the Qatar Government to abolish the widely decried “Kafala” employee-sponsorship system and the introduction of non-discriminatory minimum wage set for 2020. These are possible cases underscoring the influence of sport in reforming laws and accelerating political action, as Qatar prepares to host FIFA World Cup 2022.
Kelvin C. Omuojine, Partner, SportHouse LP, Nigeria
Nigerian sports arbitration court
Tne development to watch out for in 2020 in Nigeria is the establishment of a National Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The absence of an adequate system of resolution of sports disputes in Nigeria has resulted in many disputes going unresolved or being escalated to civil courts. Generally, apart from prohibiting sports-specific disputes from being taken to regular civil courts, sport governing bodies typically have their own sport-specific dispute resolution mechanism, to ensure that sports-related disputes are efficiently resolved. Furthermore, at national level in a number of countries, independent sports tribunals have been established to adjudicate of sports disputes and since 2011, the National Council on Sports in Nigeria endorsed the establishment of a Nigerian Court of Arbitration for Sports by the Nigeria Olympic Committee.
Even though no visible steps have been taken towards the implementation of the report of the Adokiye Amiesimaka-led committee that proposed the establishment of a National Court of Arbitration for Sport, recent reports indicate that the Nigeria Olympic Committee is now working towards finalizing the establishment of the National Court of Arbitration for sports and efforts should be visible in the coming year.
Liya Akzhanova, Counsel, Deputy Branch Manager, GRATA Law Firm, Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan Premier League regulatory changes
The start of the 2020 Premier League in Kazakhstan will be marked with the amendments to the recently adopted Premier League Regulations. The amendments put the residents of Kazakhstan on equal status to the residents of Eurasian Economic Union (EEU, consisting of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia) and returns the concept of the “overseas player” into the Regulations. An overseas player is classed as any football player who is not a resident of Kazakhstan or any of the EEU member states. Pursuant to the Regulations, the Premier League’s teams must now include at least 12 spots for local players, no more than 8 spots for overseas players, with the remaining 10 positions held by players of any of EEU country at the discretion of the club. In respect to starting team restrictions – no more than 6 overseas players are allowed on the playing field. Similar changes have been implemented for the First League clubs: not less than 18 spots must by filled by local players, 3 spots to overseas players, and the remaining 9 filled at the discretion of the club by either citizens of the Republic of Kazakhstan or EEU countries. It will be interesting to see the effect that this has on performance in the domestic leagues and the National team.
Farai Razano, South Africa (with assistance from Shane Wafer and Jan Kemp Nel – Javelin Sports Consulting)
2021 World Anti-Doping Code, Aphiwe Dyantyi’s case, governance in Cricket and dispute resolution in football
As we welcome in the new decade, 2020 will most likely be a defining year in global sports law and in particular anti-doping regulation and enforcement. WADA’s 2021 code review enters its finals stages and once implemented will bring many key changes to current regulations. The introduction of ‘substances of abuse’ will undoubtedly reduce the increasing burden for the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport as athletes found guilty for presence of such substances in their system, in or out-of-competition tests, will receive greatly reduced sanctions.
Rugby and athletics fans will be waiting with bated breath for the results of various doping hearings, especially Springbok Aphiwe Dyantyi’s case, who faces a four year ban for anabolic steroid use. Then of course it would be impossible to deny the impact that the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics will have on the next 12 months on South African sport. The IOC’s Rule 40 amendment will surely take centre stage in the wake of the United States Olympic Committee and British Olympic Associations release of guidelines for their competitors. Worryingly, with 7 months left until the Olympic torch is lit, South African future Olympians still await comment from SASCOC on any guidelines for South African athletes and their sponsors.
2020 is also likely to usher in a new era in sports governance for South African cricket as mounting pressure on the board and its top executives, coupled with the South African Cricketers Association’s court application against Cricket South Africa over disputes pertaining to its CBA and the restructuring of domestic cricket, should upset the apple cart. Dispute resolution in football is likely to get a major facelift as a result of the new CBA between the PSL and SAFPU. The area of sports broadcasting will also be one to keep an eye on as stakeholders wait for ICASA to announce its findings from the consultation process and chart a way forward on the broadcasting of events of ‘sports of national interest’.
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Chris is the Editor at LawInSport, and takes responsibility for the review of content in conjunction with the Editorial Board. Prior to joining LawInSport, Chris graduated from Nottingham University, and trained and worked as a litigation lawyer at King & Wood & Mallesons SJ Berwin.