This Book is a welcome addition to the International Sports Law Literature on a subject of increasing importance around the sporting world, given that sport is now big business, accounting for more than 3% of world trade, with so much at stake both on and off the field of play.
The Book is divided into three parts: the first covers the main international sports governing bodies for football, basketball, volleyball, handball, rugby and Formula 1, which has its own International Court of Appeal; the second covers sports justice at the national level in twenty-three countries; and the third provides a comparative analysis of the sports justice systems covered in the Book.
As the Editors point out in the Introduction to the Book: “Sports justice is of paramount importance for any club, athlete, and any other person registered with a sports association.” And go to remark that sports justice bodies, although some of them are more effective than others, share the same goal: “to settle disputes, to mediate and to guarantee the correct interpretation of sporting rules and regulations.”
But, where does ordinary justice fit into the matrix? Where does sports justice end and ordinary justice begin? As the Editors note: “The lines of distinction become … blurred when issues of individual or fundamental rights come into play.” This is an interesting paradox because “sports justice and ordinary justice are not always discernible.” The Book sets out to answer these questions and shed some light on the subject at the international and national levels.
The usual sporting jurisdictions in Europe are covered and so also are Brazil, Japan, Russia and the United States, as well as, which is to be welcomed, the State of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Surprisingly, although Kenya is included in the Book, South Africa is not covered. Neither are such other important sporting nations as Australia and New Zealand! Perhaps these omissions will be rectified in a subsequent edition of the Book.
Not surprisingly, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which is probably the most important sports justice body (described by the Editors as ‘the mother of all sports arbitration tribunals’) and which, after almost thirty years of operations, is proving, as its founders intended, to be the ‘Supreme Court of World Sport’, is given prominence in the Book. New and important CAS rules of procedure came into force on 1 March 2013 and, in particular, as mentioned in the Book, the right in appeal proceedings of CAS Arbitrators, under the revised Article R57, to review the case de novo has now been qualified in that they now have a discretion to exclude “…. evidence presented by the parties if it was available to them or could reasonably have been discovered by them before the challenged decision was rendered.” This qualification has been criticised by some CAS commentators as undermining the well-established de novo review principle, hitherto a hallmark of CAS appeals.
As mentioned above, Part III of the Book provides a comparative analysis of sports justice and ordinary justice both internationally and nationally. It includes a very useful comparative table of the key features of sports justice versus ordinary justice in the twenty-three countries covered by the Book, and also makes some other interesting observations on the development and roles of sports justice bodies and systems.
The Book ends with some final thoughts by the Editors including the following conclusion that “A first reading of this sports justice systems’ review might generate in the swift reader the conviction that overall and nearly everywhere sport justice is well settled. In fact, the situation is not uniform, consistent or monochromatic.”
In fact, there is still a lot to do to provide harmony between sports justice and ordinary justice and avoid conflicts in the interests of fairness and transparency in the settlement of sports disputes. Work in progress!
The Sports Law and Policy Centre, the Editors and the Contributors are all to be warmly congratulated on producing such an interesting and thought-provoking Book, which, your reviewer is sure, will be of considerable benefit to all those involved, in whatever capacity, in the exciting and evolving world of sports justice!
Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw
International Sports Lawyer Academic and Author