We are proud to present and welcome readers to the March 2013 edition (citation: GSLTR 2013/1) of our ground-breaking journal and on-line database (www.gsltr.com): Global Sports Law and Taxation Reports (GSLTR).
On 4 February 2013, Europol, the European Union Police Agency, revealed the shocking results of its 18 months’ investigation into match fixing in football, the world’s most popular and lucrative sport, and therein lies the rub. Where there is money to be made, corruption – in one form or another – is never far behind!
Europol revealed that they had uncovered an organised crime syndicate, based in Asia that was coordinating the match fixing, with around 425 match officials, club officials, players and criminals under suspicion.
Europol believe that this crime syndicate has been liaising with criminal networks throughout Europe and also that match fixing has taken place in 15 countries and 50 people, so far, have been arrested.
Europol added that suspected matches included World Cup and European Championship qualifiers, two Champions League ties and several top football matches in European leagues. Furthermore, criminals bet € 16 million on rigged matches and made € 8 million in profits. Payments of € 2 million are thought, by the investigators, to have been paid to those involved, with the biggest payment to an individual amounting to € 140,000.
Sadly, Europol fears that this is “the tip of the iceberg”.
Rob Wainwright, the Director of Europol said:
“It is clear to us this is the biggest ever investigation into suspected match fixing in Europe.”
“This has yielded major results which we think have uncovered a big problem for the integrity of football in Europe.”
Football is not the only sport to suffer from match fixing. The genteel sport of cricket has also succumbed to this scourge! We publish an article by Amrit Johal, who heads up the Sports Law Department of the London Law Firm of Rainer Hughes, entitled “Corruption in sport: match and spot fixing in cricket – it is just not cricket!”. In this article he deals with the recent scandal of “spot fixing” (a species of match fixing) in cricket involving the delivery of “no balls” at timed intervals by certain players in the Pakistani national cricket team during the fourth test match against England at the Lord’s Cricket Ground, the ancestral home of cricket, in the summer of 2010, in which, it was alleged and subsequently proved in criminal proceedings, that they deliberately bowled “no balls” at predetermined points in an over, as pre-arranged and agreed with a certain bookmaker, who would take bets on when “no balls” would be bowled during the match.
Johal reaches the rather depressing – but perhaps realistic conclusion – that, despite the efforts of the sporting authorities to eradicate it, match fixing is probably here to stay:
“Match and spot fixing in cricket and, indeed, in any other sport is clearly wrong and against the essential nature of sport which is fair play. But, now that cricket – like football before it – has become so much more professional and lucrative – take the Indian Premier League (IPL), for example, where cricketers who play in the IPL can become millionaire superstars overnight! – corruption, unfortunately, is likely to remain, despite the continuing efforts, which are to be applauded, of the sport’s governing bodies to stamp it out.”
This will provide on-going work for the sports lawyers!
On the legal side, we also feature an article by Frans de Weger on the intriguing topic of football players who are nearing the end of their contracts and being penalised by not being called onto the pitch until they have renewed their contracts! He reviews the legal position and, as the legal adviser to the FBO (The Dutch federation for professional football clubs), he is well qualified to do so.
We also publish an article by Louise Millington-Roberts, a Partner in the London law firm of Kerman & Co., on a landmark English Supreme Court judgement involving an uauthorised ticket exchange website in rugby football. Legal cases and disputes involving various aspects of ticketing arrangements and payment conditions for major sporting events, especially linking them to the use of credit cards issued and operated by sponsors of those events, are on the increase, so this is a timely article!
Furthermore, we also publish a timely article, by Kate Storey and Jason Romer, on the new Guernsey legislation on registered image rights, which has now been passed and came into force on 3 December 2012, as well as an article on “The state of sports law in Slovenia” by Blaz Bolcar.
Finally, we include a topical article by John Wallace, Consultant Solicitor to the London City law firm of McFaddens, on the UEFA proposal to ban third party ownership of football players.
On the tax side, in our series of “Tax planning for incoming professional team sports”, we publish contributions on The Netherlands from Dick Molenaar and Slovenia by Milo Matijevic; also articles on “lessons from London 2012” by Stephen Woodhouse, “VAT and the supply of rights to play golf” by Jonathan Hawkes and “the deductibility of penalties for spying on Ferrari” by Julian Hedley.
So, consistent with our aims of maintaining the high standard and variety of the articles that we publish, there is much in the March 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 and go from strength to strength in this new year and beyond.
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 March 2013 edition of GSLTR!
Dr Rijkele Betten (Managing Editor)
Prof. Dr Ian S. Blackshaw (Consulting Editor)