Editorial GSLTR (Global Sports Law and Taxation Reports), issue September 2012

Editorial

Once again, we are proud to present and welcome readers to the September 2012 edition (citation: GSLTR2012/3) of our ground-breaking journal and on-line database (www.gsltr.com): Global Sports Law and Taxation Reports (GSLTR).

Following the very successful London 2012 Summer Olympics, described by Dr. Jacques Rogge, the President of the International Olympic Committee, as “exceeding all expectations”, and the London 2012 Summer Paralympics, described by Sir Philip Craven, the President of the International Paralympic Committee, as “the greatest Paralympics ever”, notwithstanding the security and transport concerns expressed before the Games took place, not surprisingly, this latest issue of GSLTR has something of an Olympic theme about it.

Are the modern Olympics too big – there were some 10,000 athletes and some 6,000 officials in London? Are they too expensive to stage – the cost of the London games was some £ 9 billion! Are they too commercial – large multinationals perhaps calling the shots? Should they be held in one place – in Greece, for example, the original home of the Olympics? Is there a real legacy – sporting and/or economic or otherwise – from the Games, or is that merely wishful thinking? We include an article by Dr. Dikaia Chatziefstathiou, Reader in Olympic Studies & the Social Analysis of Sport at Canterbury Christ Church University, UK, entitled, “The Contemporary Global Olympic Movement”, which analyses the Olympic Movement today and addresses some of these topical issues. She concludes that:

“…the nature of the Olympic matters is not only narrowed to Olympic or sporting issues but relates to broader fields of economic governance and legislative regulation. For example, it is argued that today the future of the Olympics is held by the BRICS countries. After China, with Beijing 2008, Russia will host Sochi 2014 and Brazil will stage Rio 2016. South Africa and India may join these ranks for 2024, while Turkey seems interested in staging 2020. Thus, as shown in this article the future of the IOC might be challenged by the clash of its politico-economic interests and global ethical imperatives evident in Olympic contexts such as sport for development, sport and multiculturalism and the growing role sought for sport in international development.”

Once again, during the London Olympics, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) was in attendance in the form of its “Ad Hoc Division” (AHD) to settle within twenty-four hours and free of charge a range of disputes arising during the Games. We include an article highlighting some particular legal aspects of the compulsory jurisdiction of the CAS AHD.

Whilst on the subject of the London 2012 Olympics, Usain Bolt, the fastest man on earth, who retained his Olympic titles in the 100 and 200 metres, announced on 14 August that he would not take part in other athletic events in the UK (the Olympics are a “tax-free zone”) until the UK tax regime concerning foreign athletes is changed. Following rules introduced in April 2010, athletes face the top rate of tax of 50% on their prize money (earnings), plus a slice of their world-wide sponsorship payments. Bolt is reputed to be the highest sponsored athlete in the world, so his criticism of the UK tax situation is not surprising. Other high profile sports persons, such as tennis player Rafael Nadal and golfer Sergio Garcia, are also staying away from the UK for the same reasons.

On the legal side, we also include articles on liability for sports injuries in South Africa; the general characteristics of sports law in Bulgaria (incidentally, Bulgaria fielded 63 athletes at the London Olympics and won two medals (a silver and a bronze), their worst performance in 60 years); gambling on sports events in the USA (the USA was beaten into second place by China in the medals table at the London Olympics); and the CAS and football landmark cases.

The South African article is particularly interesting, because the claim for sports injuries was brought by an amateur rather than an elite athlete, which seems to be the norm in South Africa. As Professor Steve Cornelius, the author of this article, points out:

“[T]he world of professional sport is a highly competitive and often cruel place where loyalties are thinly strewn. Sports stars are often shooting stars, shining brightly for a few fleeting moments before fading into obscurity. And while their stars shimmer, they have to reap the maximum rewards for their efforts. As soon as their skills and abilities begin to wane, the sports heroes of yesterday are all too easily forgotten to make way for the bright new stars of tomorrow. In particular, the risk of injury is an ever present shadow looming over the life of any professional athlete and many promising careers have ended prematurely due to serious injuries. One would then expect that professional athletes who have sustained serious injuries would from time to time institute legal action to claim damages from those responsible for their injuries.

It is however ironic that the majority of these kinds of claims in South Africa and elsewhere have mostly involved junior or amateur athletes. The case of Hattingh v. Roux is yet another occasion where a junior rugby union player instituted a delictual (tort) claim against another player as a result of a serious neck injury which the player sustained during a rugby match.”

So, read on and discover the outcome of this important and recent South African sports injuries claim!

In the ten years, since FIFA, the world governing body of association football, the world’s favourite sport and most lucrative one, joined the CAS, not surprisingly its work load has increased exponentially. The economic impact of football and the consequential potential for disputes may be gleaned from the fact that, according to the latest figures, the wages bill of the big five leagues in Europe amount to € 5.6 billion. In fact, because of the rise of football disputes, the CAS has established a list of CAS arbitrators, who are specialised in football-related disputes to deal with them. So there have been a number of landmark cases decided by the CAS and, as mentioned above, we include an article in this issue on this evolving subject, subtitled “CAS and football landmark cases”.

On the tax side, amongst others, and continuing the Olympic theme, we publish an article with the intriguing title “Host city contract as a basis for tax exemption for major sporting events: towards privatization of sports tax law?” This article describes the procedure for concluding host city contracts for major sporting events, such as the Olympic Games; assesses the existing role of international sports organizations as rule-makers; and poses the question of whether the commitment to offer sports mega-events a tax immunity amounts to the privatization of tax law, which is essentially a matter of public law. The article highlights two important intertwined aspects of such a commitment which includes its public law nature, resulting from an agreement based on private contract law, and a potential violation of the well-known constitutional principle of the separation of powers with respect to the competence to enact tax law.

We also include an article on the tax treatment of incoming sports persons in Cyprus, which currently holds the EU presidency and is a sport-loving country. It is followed by four more articles about the same subject, describing the situation in Poland, Turkey, Ukraine and India.

So, as you will see, there is much in the September issue of GSLTR to inform and interest sports legal and tax advisers alike and, of course, their clients! Please spread the word about GSLTR amongst your colleagues and contacts and help us to increase our global footprint.

Finally, as always, we would welcome your comments and suggestions on our journal and its coverage, which will help us to realise our mission of producing and providing an invaluable and must-have resource for all those involved in the ever-evolving and often intertwined fields of sports law and taxation.

We would also welcome and value your contributions in the form of articles and topical case notes and commentaries, especially for posting on the GSLTR dedicated website at www.gsltr.com.

So, now read on and enjoy the September 2012 edition of GSLTR.

 

Dr. Rijkele Betten (Managing Editor)

Prof. Ian S. Blackshaw (Consulting Editor)

September 2012

 

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