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Conference report: Trends in Sports Law in Europe and the US


The Sports Lawyer Association (SLA) and the Paris-based Union International des Advocats (UIA) held a successful joint session last month in Miami, Florida, to discuss the broad themes around the protection of integrity in sport, to bridge barriers between sport lawyers in civil and common law countries, and to focus on better processes for sports dispute resolution.

The conference title was Latest Trends in Sports Law in Europe and the United States – Views from Both Sides of the Atlantic and it was held at the National Hotel, Miami Beach, with a roughly equal amount of North American and European sport lawyers in attendance. The various languages and nationalities of the attendees was a strength of the conference and conversations and information sharing was ongoing.

Some titles of the speakers were: CEO of The International Center for Sport Security Europe, CoChair of UN Global Compact Committee on Anti-Corruption,  Acting General Secretary of the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF), Executive Vice President and General Counsel Major League Soccer, Senior Vice President of Football Operations NFL, General Counsel Orlando Magic, and Senior Vice President and General Counsel for the Miami Dolphins among many others.

The break-out sessions had ‘hot topic’ urgency and deep substance to them overall, with interactive audience participation. The first day of the Conference’s key focus was integrity in sports governance in international federations such as FIFA, and integrity in sport competitions to combat match-fixing, fantasy sports, and other issues. The second day of the Conference included panels on protection of rights in sports in matters such as media, image and trademark, ambush marketing and customer data privacy. The concluding session primarily dealt with dispute resolution within the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). The comparative law perspectives were absorbing.

My favorite session was Panel 6: CAS: Perspectives of Arbitrators and Counsel. Hearing the arbitrators from CAS speak and the international advocates who specialize in CAS case work was fascinating. The focus was almost totally on anti-doping violations. One take-away for me was the heightened importance of legal procedure to ensure ‘due process’ rights for the athletes.  Failures to do this, as in the case of athlete Claudia Pechstein’s successful challenge of CAS to the German High Court last year, were analyzed.

The final afternoon was an optional Miami Marlins spring training game along with a behind the scenes tour of the facilities at the new baseball park. This was a novel opportunity for the European lawyers in particular to enjoy their final hours in Miami with American baseball.

Dr. Robert Hudson is the Library Director and Archivist at the United States Sports Academy. He can be reached at rhudson@ussa.edu.


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