Raheem Sterling’s Penalty: If the referee knew, could he have overturned it?

The penalty given in the early stages of the Champions League fixture between Manchester City and Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday night has been hailed as amongst the worst penalty decision[s] ever” by the BBC. Since there was no VAR and the fourth official appeared silent on the issue, the penalty stood and Gabriel Jesus put City up 2-0.

Aside from the “meme-ageddon” that has followed, Sterling has received criticism from his harshest critics who have claimed that he should have been more forceful in explaining to the referee what had actually happened. Others have highlighted the fact that he did not seek to claim a penalty in any way and that the referee immediately awarded the penalty when he went to ground.

What is the law and would any protestations have made a difference anyway?

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Motorsport’s new proposed ‘W Series’ – a chance for female drivers to move to the front of the grid?

I don’t know whether a woman would physically be able to drive an F1 car quickly, and they wouldn’t be taken seriously.

I don’t know if they’ve got the mental aptitude to race hard, wheel-to-wheel.

Regrettably, these inflammatory comments were not made by loose-lipped pub-goers, but by former F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone and International Motorsports Hall of Famer Sir Stirling Moss, respectively.

Given their stature, the picture of an ‘all-boys club’ is easy to visualize. However, it appears that change is on the horizon. In May 2019, a new Formula 3 championship called the “W Series” will be launched, with a very distinct USP: all its racers will be women.

In an interview conducted by The Drive with W Series Communications Director, Matt Bishop, the following information has been gleaned:

  • W Series has appointed the British Racing & Sports Car Club (BRSCC) as the organizing club.
  • All the backing for season one—about £20 million (US $26.4 million) will be provided by one major shareholder, Sean Wadsworth.
  • W Series expects to sign 18 drivers for season one, all of whom must be at least 17 years of age, have competitive racing history, and must have completed an appraisal process stated to involve simulator and on-track testing, as well as engineering exams and physical fitness trials.
  • Those selected will be funneled into rigorous training programs, each run by instructors with Formula 1 experience. Tutelage by Grand Prix winner David Coulthard and simulator time will augment driving, while technical understanding will be aided by engineer Adrian Newey. Former McLaren management man Dave Ryan and former McLaren communications officer Matt Bishop will train drivers to master media interaction.
  • For the 2019 season, the W Series calendar is expected to encompass six half-hour sprint races at racetracks across Europe. In 2020 and beyond, the calendar could expand to regions such as the United States, Australia, and Asia.
  • At the end of the season, a prize money pot of $1.5 million will be divvied up between the entire grid. The winner will take home $500,000, and there will be decreasing payouts awarded all the way down to 18th place in the final standings.

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The $365 million man: Canelo lands bumper deal in changing sports broadcasting market

The richest athlete contract in sports history”. That is how ESPN described the deal between boxer Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and streaming service DAZN, which is worth a reported $365 million for 11 fights.

The agreement with Canelo sits alongside a broader “exclusive” partnership between DAZN and Canelo’s promoter, Golden Boy Promotions, which is due to run until 2023. DAZN has certainly made a statement to its competitors with the deal, as the UK-based company adds to its stable of combat-sport content.

The scale of Canelo’s remuneration has already prompted rival boxer Gennady Golovkin to consider his next move very carefully, given his current status as a broadcast ‘free-agent’.

Perhaps more significantly the deal is the latest indication of a shifting landscape in sports broadcasting, away from traditional linear TV broadcasters and towards standalone over the top (“OTT”) service providers such as DAZN. Indeed, Eleven Sports have recently made waves in the UK, acquiring the rights to broadcast various European football leagues, including La Liga and Serie A, via its streaming platform.

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Will the American League Baseball finals be decided by the actions of a fan?

The beginning of October saw the start of the postseason in Major League Baseball and we are now at the finals stage in both the National and American League competitions.

In the American League, the LA Dodgers lead the Milwaukee Brewers 3-2 in the best of 7 series, whilst last night the Boston Red Sox sealed a 8-6 victory over the Houston Astros, to take a 3-1 lead in the series.

However, last night’s game was not without controversy as a two-run home run was cancelled as a result of the umpires’ finding that an Astro’s fan had interfered with the play.

What happened?

At the bottom of the first innings, and with George Springer on first base, Houston’s designated hitter Jose Altuve, smashed a fly ball to the right-hand side of the field in what looked like it would be a home run.

Red Sox right-fielder, Mookie Betts, launched himself backwards in an attempt to make the catch but in the process closed his glove too early, meaning the ball dropped back into the field of play, with both batsmen making it home safely.

However, following the play, the right-field umpire ruled that Altuve was out as a result of “spectator interference”. Protests ensued from the Astro’s bench before, having taking their time to consider the replays in more detail, the Umpires upheld the original decision with Altuve out and Springer having to return to first base.

A video of the incident can be viewed on the MLB twitter account here.

What are the rules?

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Ben Stokes & Alex Hales: Disciplinary Matters in England and Wales Cricket

Given its escalation all the way to the Bristol Crown Court, even the casual sports fan will have noted the media furore regarding Ben Stokes and the street brawl he engaged in last September.

Although Stokes was found not guilty for the offence of affray, he has not escaped all liability for his actions just yet.

At the same time as Stokes was charged by the Avon and Somerset Police, both Stokes and Alex Hales were charged internally by the England governing body for cricket, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).

What were they charged with?

Both players were referred to the independent Cricket Discipline Committee (CDC) and charged with two counts of breaching ECB directive 3.3, which states:

“No participant may conduct themselves in a manner or do any act or omission at any time which may be prejudicial to the interests of cricket or which may bring the ECB, the game of cricket or any cricketer or group of cricketers into disrepute.”

These types of clauses in governing bodies’ regulations are commonly used as sweeper provisions, to punish participants for actions away from the field of play.

How will the disciplinary process work?

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Eleven Sports challenges football ‘Blackout’ by broadcasting La Liga games

Eleven Sports, the global sports provider, has contravened UEFA rules, which prohibit live coverage of football in the UK between 14:45 and 17:15 on Saturdays by broadcasting Barcelona’s La Liga fixture against Athletic Bilbao.

This period on a Saturday afternoon is commonly referred to as the football “blackout” as the UK does not broadcast any matches during this period. It is at this time that football fans will instead turn to Jeff Stelling and Co. for their fix of football updates.

Eleven Sports broadcast the La Liga fixture in the UK despite a 15:15 BST kick off. Eleven Sports then streamed Getafe versus Levante the following weekend at the same time. Andrea Radrizzani, its founder, has recently said that the broadcaster will continue to broadcast live La Liga matches during the Saturday blackout window.

Article 48 of the UEFA Statutes grants UEFA and the Member Associations the exclusive rights to broadcast any matches within their jurisdiction. The regulations governing the implementation of Article 48 provide further detail:

  • Article 3(1) refers to “transmission-free periods” where Member Associations may decide on a two and a half hour period on a Saturday or Sunday during which any transmission of football is prohibited within the territory of the Member Association.
  • Article 3(3) requires that the chosen hours of a Member Association should correspond to the “main domestic fixture schedule”, which is defined as corresponding to the time when the majority (50% or more) of the weekly football matches in the top or top two domestic leagues are played.

This corresponds to the set of fixtures played at 15:00 on a Saturday in the UK.

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More silverware for SPB at Law Society rugby 7s and Netball Tournament

Following last year’s success, Squire Patton Boggs again entered this year’s Law Society rugby 7s and Netball Tournament.

The SPB netball team started the day with a strong win against Watson Farley & Williams. Some consistent shooting (in spite of the downpour of rain during play) led Squires to an 8-4 victory.

The ladies, however, faced a very strong Pinsent Masons side in their second group game and narrowly lost, even though they put in a valiant defence against their shooters. But, after 39 Essex Street failed to turn up (our name must have preceded us!), a win-by-default put the girls through to the play-offs of the plate. The team rallied together and (buoyed by some enthusiastic support from the sidelines) brought home a well-deserved victory against Simmons & Simmons (8-4). This was a satisfying win for the team as Simmons was the only team they lost to in 2017!

The afternoon brought a hard-fought semi-final against Irwin Mitchell. Despite a wholehearted effort and a comeback in the second half, the ladies missed out on a place in the final, leaving the rugby 7s team to fight for silverware later in the afternoon.

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The Olympic Games: an architect of peace for the Korean Peninsula?

At the beginning of the year, Sports Shorts covered the developments between North Korea and South Korea as the countries negotiated North Korea’s participation in the PyeongChang WinterOlympics.

The 2018 Winter Olympics was a success; to summarise:

  • The athletes from North and South Korea marched together under the Korean unification flag during the opening ceremony;
  • North Korea sent a high-level delegation to attend the games including, the sister of Kim Jong-Un, Kim Yo-jong who shook hands with President Moon at the start of the games;
  • The delegation invited President Moon to visit North Korea;
  • The countries submitted a combined team to compete in the women’s ice hockey competition.

This is a testament to the spirit of the Olympic Games.

More recently, it has been announced that the two countries will pursue a joint bid to host the Olympic Games in 2032. South Korea’s sports minister, Do Jong-hwan, spoke about the joint proposal:

it’s a proposal of hosting the events in Seoul and Pyeongyang. The Pyeongchang Winter Olympics showed the Olympic values very well. I hope peace in Northeast Asia can continue through sports”.

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Brussel’s Court of Appeal Challenges CAS Jurisdiction Clause in FIFA Statutes

In recent weeks, the media has reacted rather dramatically to the decision handed down by the Brussel’s Court of Appeal on 28 August 2018, in a case brought by Belgian football club RFC Seraing (Seraing). The precise impact of the decision remains to be seen although it is unlikely that this represents the fall of international sports arbitration as we know it. In fact, the CAS has been here before – in 2016 the German Supreme Court upheld a CAS arbitration agreement  in the Pechstein case.

The coverage has centred around the Court’s finding that “enforced arbitration” clauses contained in the FIFA, UEFA and Royal Belgian Football Association (URBSFA) Statutes and Regulations which give jurisdiction to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), may be challenged. This is on the basis that such clauses may be too general and do not concern a “specific legal relationship”.

The Proceedings

In 2015, Belgian football club RFC Seraing and Doyen Sports (Doyen), an investment fund in support of third party ownership, challenged  a transfer ban issued by FIFA, which held Seraing to be in breach of the FIFA Third Party Ownership (TPO) rules found is section V of the FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players (RSTP). Seraing were consequently banned from registering players in four (4) consecutive registration periods. Seraing appealed the FIFA decision before the CAS, resulting in a decision dated 9 March 2017 (TAS 2016/A/4490). In that decision, the Panel partially modified FIFA’s ruling reducing the ban on registering players to three (3) consecutive registration periods:

“RFC Seraing is prohibited from registering players, both nationally and internationally, during the three (3) complete and consecutive registration periods following notification of this arbitration award.”

Unhappy with the ruling, Seraing and Doyen appealed the decision before the Swiss Federal Tribunal in proceedings marked 4A 260/2017. The judgment dated 20 February 2018 made reference to the Lazuntina and Pechtein cases and inter alia: upheld the independence of the CAS as an arbitral institution, upheld the basis of FIFA’s TPO rules rejecting the argument that it interfered with the economic freedom of clubs and rejected the appellant’s dis-proportionality argument in relation to the penalty on the basis that such a claim was not admissible before the Federal Tribunal.

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West Ham face potential hammering by the ICO.

Currently sitting last in the Premier League table with no points to their name, West Ham have had a tough start to the season.

Their struggles have been just as obvious off the pitch as the club continues its legal dispute with the landlord of their home ground, the London Stadium. London Legacy Development Corporation has refused to reinstate the club’s honours board due to unpaid bills. Further, the club is in dispute with the landlord over the colour of the track around the pitch. A disagreement between whether the track should be blue or claret (or in Karren Brady’s open letter, both blue and claret), may now seem trivial given the club’s recent data breach.

Last week West Ham accidentally shared hundreds of supporters’ personal email addresses when confirming successful applications for their upcoming Carabao Cup fixture. The club has apologised to fans and has reported the breach to the Information Commissioners Office (ICO), the data protection supervisory authority for the UK.

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