The Courts in Sport


FILE - Jamaican Sprinter Veronica Campbell-Brown Tests Positive For Banned Substance

In light of recent legal happenings in the World of Sport, including the much-reported overturning of Veronica Campbell-Brown sentence by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), the Precedent has decided to give you an overview of sport’s legal systems.

In sporting matters, the referees and umpires etc. could almost be akin to policemen and policewomen. They report to a governing body of each particular sport, like Football Associations who then report to their regional football associations and finally FIFA. For example, in football, the primary source of law would be the FIFA Congress which according to FIFA website is – “football’s parliamentAccording to the statutes, the FIFA Congress is the organisation’s supreme body. Numerous articles dictate which items are to be discussed and which decisions are to be passed at this forum.” They would almost be seen as a sovereign Parliament who enforces the rules of what is known as the FIFA statutes.

In sport, member teams and teams with history in the game generally have a say, almost like the populus of a sovereignty. This is simply to say that sport for the most part is given to going in a direction which is seen as furthering the spirit of the game: an intangible, almost innate raison d’etre thought to be what borne sport in the first place.

However, after various governing bodies take actions which they are generally given, for the most part, a legislative and procedural ‘free-reign’ there are more familiar looking legal avenues. The Court of Arbritatration for Sport (CAS) is seen as almost the Supreme Court of sporting matters.

It was initially envisioned as a strictly athletic recourse, empowered by provisions of the International Olympic Comittee. However, after 1994, it broke any close ties with the IOC becoming a more wide-reaching arbitrator. Among it’s jurisdictional sources, is the world anti-doping code, and it is seen as a impartial adjudicator on different sport governing body provisions. As always there is controversy; one such is the CAS’ power over on-field decisions, which they are generally reluctant to reverse unless clear and gross bad faith or bias is shown by officials.

Decisions by the CAS can be appealed to the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland, whose original ruling recognised CAS as a formal adjudicatory body. However, the grounds for appeal and judicial review are very limited, and as would be expected, restricted to points of law.

© Yakum Fitz-Henley 2014

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