Ambush Marketing and the 2018 FIFA World Cup

The 2018 FIFA World Cup has now kicked off in Russia after much anticipation. So far, it has not failed to entertain, ensuring a number of dramatic upsets and last minute goals that remind us why it is the most watched and highly anticipated competition in the world.

As such, one can see why it is tempting for brands to piggyback on the global attention and interest of the tournament, deploying marketing initiatives that take advantage of the hysteria surrounding the World Cup.

This is known as ambush marketing – where brands take advantage of the hype of certain events by creating a commercial connection or association with the event despite no official link. FIFA has defined Ambush Marketing as:

any attempts by any entity or individual to gain an unauthorised commercial association with the Competition itself, or to exploit the goodwill and publicity generated by the FIFA World Cup.”

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US Open 2018 – Phil Mickelson takes a 10 but at what cost to the game?

Last night, Brooks Koepka, repeated his 2017 US Open victory by retaining the title over four punishing days at the Shinnecock Hills course in New York after narrowly beating England’s Tommy Fleetwood by a single shot.

The US Open is often billed as the hardest test in golf with organisers renowned for setting their respective courses to be as challenging as possible. Indeed event organisers faced so much criticism for the course setup on Saturday this year that they were forced to apologise given similar events the last time the same course hosted the event in 2004.

However, the state of the course was only one of several controversies from the weekend’s play.

Five time major winner Phil Mickelson also received his fair share of criticism after deliberately hitting his moving ball before carding an unheard of 10 on the par 4, 13th hole during Saturday’s third round.

Mickelson had bogeyed the previous four holes in what was turning into a horror round for the leftie who was looking to complete a career grand slam having been runner-up in the event a record six times.

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World Anti-Doping Code: Not Guerrero’s (World) Cup of Tea

The 2018 FIFA World Cup, which kicked off today in Moscow, will be Paolo Guerrero’s first.

He is the captain of Peru’s football team and it will be the country’s first World Cup in 36 years. Yet for months it was feared that Guerrero would not be able to play due to his 14-month ban for testing positive for the metabolite benzoylecgonine, found in cocaine.

World Anti-Doping Code

Cocaine is included in the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) 2017 Prohibited List under the class S6 Substances and it is prohibited in competition, not out of competition. It is a stimulant frequently associated with recreation rather than performance enhancement, and when athletes test positive, their stories typically recount their night out. Sometimes the cocaine enters their system through unexpected circumstances such as a kiss with a stranger who has taken the drug.

Testing positive for cocaine in competition and a resulting breach of the WADC can result in a four-year ban under Article 10.2 of the Code if it can be established that the anti-doping rule violation was intentional. This means the athlete engaged in conduct which he/she “knew constituted an anti-doping rule violation or knew that there was a significant risk that the conduct might constitute or result in an anti-doping rule violation and manifestly disregarded that risk.” If not intentional, the period of ineligibility will be two years under Article 10.2.2.

Yet the period of ineligibility can be eliminated if Article 10.4 of the Code is satisfied, being the athlete establishes “that he or she bears No Fault or Negligence.” This is defined as the athlete “establishing that he or she did not know or suspect, and could not reasonably have known or suspected even with the exercise of utmost caution, that he or she had Used or been administered the Prohibited Substance or Prohibited Method or otherwise violated an anti-doping rule.”

If this is not satisfied, under Article 10.5 the athlete can instead claim a reduction of their period of ineligibility if he or she establishes “No Significant Fault of Negligence”. This is defined as the athlete “establishing that his or her Fault or negligence, when viewed in the totality of the circumstances and taking into account the criteria for No Fault or Negligence, was not significant in relationship to the anti-doping rule violation.”

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Is Scotland better than England at Sport?

A controversial question I know, but let’s looks at the facts:

  1. Cricket – Yesterday, Scotland beat a full strength England side, the number one ranked side in the World, in a One Day International in Edinburgh. The host team scored a record beating 371 runs before dismissing England for 365 with more than an over to spare.
  2. Rugby – In this year’s Six Nations, Scotland comfortably beat England 25-13, to secure a Calcutta Cup triumph and send Eddie Jones’s team into free-fall, a losing run that this weekend extended to 5 matches. In recent years Scotland’s rugby team has enjoyed a significant improvement in the team’s results including victories over Southern Hemisphere opposition and a near miss against the All Blacks, a team Scotland have not yet managed to beat.
  3. Football – The last time Scotland played England at football in a World Cup Qualifier for the 2018 World Cup, Scotland were a kick away from inflicting the only defeat on England during their qualifying campaign. A 93rd minute equaliser from the boot of Harry Kane kept England’s unbeaten record intact.

Add to the above the individual sporting success of the likes of Andy Murray and Sir Chris Hoy and a record medal tally for Scottish athletes at both the Rio Olympics and recent Commonwealth Games, and it is clear that, when it comes to sport, Scotland is enjoying a period of sustained success.

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Which sport is played by 20 million people in more than 70 countries and is not an Olympic sport?

Last month the England netball team won gold in a dramatic win against Australia in the Commonwealth Games. Photographs of the winning team decorated the front pages and England Netball coach Tracey Neville was almost more talked about than her famous ex-footballer siblings. Despite this recognition and its popularity at a grassroots level, netball is still trying to become an Olympic sport.

The International Netball Federation’s (INF) approach

The INF seems to be taking a proactive approach in their attempt to make netball an Olympic sport.

Their website has a statement setting out their position on the Olympic Games. In this statement they talk of how:

  • The INF has been recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) due to netball’s global popularity, strong and effective governance structures and compliance with the Olympic Charter.
  • The INF regularly meets with representatives from the IOC.
  • The INF’s Articles of Associations outline the purposes of the company and, unsurprisingly, their purposes are entwined with the Olympic movement. For example:

2.1 The Company’s fundamental purposes are:

  1. to promote, improve and develop Netball globally, at all levels, in accordance with the ideals and objects of the Olympic and Commonwealth movements, and without any discrimination on the grounds of race, gender, religion, creed, political beliefs, disability, marital status, sexual orientation or trade union activity;
  2. to maintain Netball on the Commonwealth Games programme and to strive for the addition of Netball to the Olympic programme; and
  3. to assume responsibility for the technical control and direction of Netball at the Commonwealth Games and the Olympic Games.

The INF put these words to the test. Continue Reading

A guide to the NBA Draft

The 2018 NBA Draft is around the corner – taking place at the Barclays Centre in Brooklyn on 21 June. The Draft Lottery and the Draft Combine have now taken place, leaving us waiting in anticipation for what is in store on 21 June.

The draft system works in the interests of balancing the playing field between teams. Those who are the lowest ranked in the standings will receive the best odds of being awarded the number 1 draft pick, which effectively means the opportunity to recruit the best prospect from the draft class. In the NBA, 14 teams participate in the Draft Lottery, which involves the teams that did not qualify for the play offs.

This article aims to discuss the intricacies of the Draft process with a specific focus on the NBA Draft and provide an overview of how the system operates. The draft is a unique feature of American sport but plays a crucial role in granting young athletes a clear route to becoming a professional athlete whilst – at the same time – offering weaker teams a first right to the talent pool, levelling the competition in the league.

Eligibility

The NBA negotiates with its players through a Collective Bargaining Agreement (“CBA”) on how the league will operate as well as agreeing the rules governing player contracts, salaries, trades and the Draft.

The most recent eligibility rules for the NBA Draft are found in article X(1)(b) of the 2017 CBA.

The starting point when considering eligibility is that a player must be at least 19 years old during the calendar year of the Draft and, if not deemed an international player, be one year removed from high school.

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Badminton World Federation Ethics Hearing Panel Delivers a Strong Warning to Those Engaging in Match Fixing

The Badminton World Federation (BWF) has handed out 20 and 15 year suspensions to two leading players after finding them guilty of match fixing.

Badminton has been hit by a few scandals before, with one of the most well-known names in the sport, Lee Chong Wei, banned for eight months for doping in 2014. Yet this recent decision is the first time the Ethics Hearing Panel has been referred a case on match fixing.

Undoubtedly the BWF have made an example of the two Malaysian players involved, delivering career-ending bans.

Zulfadli Zulkiffli received a 20-year suspension from playing badminton and from performing any function within the sport together with a fine of USD 25,000. Tan Chun Seang received a 15-year suspension from badminton, from performing any function within the sport and a fine of USD 15,000.

Tan was found to have committed 26 violations of the BWF’s 2012 Code of Conduct in relation to Betting Wagering and Irregular Match Results (2012 Code) which applied at the time of the offences. Zulfadli was found to have committed 27 violations of the 2012 Code and four violations of the 2016 Code of Conduct in relation to Betting Wagering and Irregular Match Results (2016 Code).

Taking the more recent 2016 Code by way of example, the following are considered offences (Covered Person includes any player who enters or participates in any badminton competition, event or activity organised or sanctioned by the BWF or any governing body. It also includes coaches and management representatives):

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Turkish Football Federation Issues Record Breaking Sanction to Arda Turan for Match Official Abuse

As the Turkish Süper Lig draws to a close a record 16 match ban (i.e. the rest of this season and 14 games in the following season) has been given out to Barcelona loanee Arda Turan for pushing a match official during a heated 1 – 1 draw between İstanbul Başakşehir and Sivasspor.

After the linesman failed to give a freekick for a tackle on Turan, the player approached the official, exchanged heated words and pushed him. The referee saw the offence and immediately sent him off pursuant to Law 12 of the FIFA Laws of the Game which governs ‘Fouls and Misconduct’:

Sending-off offences

A player, substitute or substituted player who commits any of the following offences is sent off:

  •  denying the opposing team a goal or an obvious goal-scoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball (except a goalkeeper within their penalty area)
  •  denying a goal or an obvious goal-scoring opportunity to an opponent whose overall movement is towards the offender’s goal by an offence punishable by a free kick (unless as outlined below).
  •  serious foul play
  •  spitting at an opponent or any other person
  •  violent conduct
  •  using offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures
  •  receiving a second caution in the same match

The matter was subsequently referred to the disciplinary committee of the Turkish Football Federation which decided to hand Turan a 16 game ban – 10 for physically assaulting the official, three for verbally insulting him and a further three for threatening behaviour. This was in addition to a 39,000 lira (£6,772) fine. This beats the previous ban record in Turkey of 11 games, given to Raul Meireles for spitting at referee Halis Ozkahya in the 2012/2013 season.

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England Tour of South Africa 2018 – “Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue”

Eddie Jones yesterday announced his squad to tour South Africa this summer following a lack lustre Six Nations campaign.

Whilst it is safe to say Jones’s honeymoon period as England coach is now over his selections have the ring of a bride to be – “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue”…

Old

Jones has decided to rest a number of players after a heavy season following last season’s Lions tour. Notable absentees include Captain Dylan Hartley, who is given time to recover properly from a further concussion injury sustained playing for England against Ireland in March, Jonathan Joseph and Anthony Watson to name but a few.

In light of those rested, Jones has given a first call up since 2015 for in form Danny Cipriani who first played for England some 10 years ago. At only 30 years old Cipriani will be hoping his form will gloss over past off field misdemeanours that have seen his International career falter.

New

There are eight uncapped players in the 34 man squad with call ups amongst others for 20 year old Saracens back rower Ben Earls, 21 year old Wasps flanker Jack Willis and 23 year old second row Jonny Hill from Exeter.

Jones’s willingness to experiment with youth will no doubt go down well with those who fear there is a lack of depth in the current squad in the event of injury and when the current crop of senior player retire.

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UEFA bans FC Sion from competing in UEFA competitions for two years.

UEFA, the governing body for European football, has issued a stark warning to European clubs not to breach its licensing rules and regulations.

The UEFA Club Financial Control Body Adjudicatory Chamber (the “Adjudicatory Chamber”) imposed a €235,000 fine on FC Sion as well as a two year ban on competing in UEFA competitions for breaching the UEFA Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations (2015 edition) (the “CLFFP Regulations”). This decision should certainly serve as a “sufficient deterrent” to discourage other clubs from breaching these rules.

Facts

  • FC Sion play in the Swiss Football League (“SFL”) and competed in the third qualifying round for the 2017/18 Europa League competition before being eliminated in the same round.
  • The Investigatory Chamber of the UEFA Club Financial Control Body notified the SFL that it was performing a compliance audit to determine whether SFL-affiliated clubs had fulfilled their obligations as defined in the CLFFP Regulations i.e were licences for participation in UEFA competitions correctly awarded?
  • Independent auditors indicated the existence of an overdue payable owed by FC Sion amounting to €950,000 towards FC Sochaux in France’s Ligue 2 as at 31 March 2017. This was subsequently paid by FC Sion on 7 June 2017 but was unpaid as at 31 March 2017.
  • The SFL conducted disciplinary proceedings against FC Sion to determine whether the club submitted potentially misleading information as part of its licensing documentation, as it did not submit the existence of the overdue payable. The SFL found that the club did not intend to mislead the SFL but it did submit incorrect licensing documentation, imposing a fine of CHF 8,000.
  • UEFA’s Investigatory Chamber considered the issue and held that FC Sion did not fulfil the Club licensing criterion defined in Article 49(1) of the CLFFP Regulations. This means that FC Sion did not fulfil the admission criterion for the Europa League and so should not have been eligible to compete in the competition.
  • The matter then came before the Adjudicatory Chamber.

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