Meet Gabe Pennington – Corporate lawyer by day and Touch World Cup 2024 England Captain in his spare time!

At Squire Patton Boggs, we pride ourselves on having a Sports and Entertainment team comprised of remarkable individuals, and today, we are thrilled to introduce Gabe Pennington, Corporate associate in our Manchester office, who will be Captaining the England Mixed Team at the Touch World Cup 2024, taking place 15-21 July in Nottingham, UK.

In his day job, Gabe advises on national and international transactions, including mergers and acquisitions, private equity, corporate reorganisations and restructuring, shareholder arrangements and general corporate advice, and in his spare time, Gabe balances his demanding legal career with his passion for sport.

But how does he manage to excel in both arenas? He shares his journey and tips for striking the perfect work-life balance. Read on to find out more.

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Paris Olympics & Paralympics – Part 1: Pre-Games Spotlight

The cloud of Covid-19 (which loomed so large over Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022) has thankfully dissipated, but the lead up to the 2024 Olympiad in Paris (the “Paris Games”) has nevertheless been punctuated by logistical and legal challenges. 

Hosting the world’s largest multi-sport international event – attended by thousands of participants, support personnel, officials, media representatives and spectators – inevitably presents practical and operational complexities.[1] When you throw in the existing geo-political climate, medical/environmental considerations, social activism and the overarching quest for many athletes to reach the pinnacle of competition, it is inevitable that lawyers will be involved (to some degree).

In this article, I address some of the key legal talking points that have dominated the build-up to the Paris Olympics and Paralympics. In part 2, to follow, I will then consider the legal issues that might expect to arise once the Paris Games formally commence on 26 July 2024.

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First Major US Lawsuit Against University Head Coach and Boosters Over Alleged Failed NIL Deal

Former University of Florida (“UF”) recruit Jaden Rashada (“Rashada”) has filed a lawsuit against the University’s head football coach, Director of Player Engagement & NIL, boosters, and the company that partially funded an alleged failed NIL deal.

Rashada claims that the UF head football coach, amongst others, defrauded him out of millions of dollars in NIL money, asserting fraudulent misrepresentation, fraudulent inducement, aiding and abetting fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud, negligent misrepresentations, tortious interference with a business relationship or contract, aiding and abetting tortious interference, and vicarious liability. 

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How Sports Clubs and Governing Bodies are Protecting Their Officials and Athletes

Former Arsenal Manager, Arsène Wenger famously said “We have gone from a vertical society to a horizontal society where everybody has an opinion about every decision you make, and everybody has an opinion on the Internet straight away.”[1]

In 2024, Wenger’s words could not be more relatable. The internet has many wonderful features. It allows us to share, create, inspire, generate income, raise awareness, and meet new people. It has given us access to things that Wenger wouldn’t have even thought about when he made that statement but, in 2024, the internet and social media permits direct access to sports men and women that we do not know and may never meet. And it is that direct access, wrapped in a cloak of internet anonymity, coupled with the belief that there will be no consequence for what is said or done online that has led to a dramatic growth in online abuse over the past decade.

What does this look like in reality?

Remember the classic saying, if you haven’t got anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Well, it appears online, we are not all playing by the same set of rules.

Ahead of the UEFA Euro 2024 tournament in Germany, instead of focusing on the beautiful game, the England squad have been briefed on the threat of online abuse. Police officers have reassured players that they will “take seriously” any abuse during the tournament. [2]

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Timely reminder from the ASA to avoid falling foul of advertising codes during UEFA Euro 2024

Football in the middle of a stadium.

As we’re gearing up for an exciting summer of sport, the attention of many football fans will be drawn to the kick-off of the UEFA Euro 2024 Football Championships in Germany. Many businesses will be looking to take advantage of the hype and interest in the tournament, particularly if England can progress deep into the knockout stages, as many will hope they can.

In light of the advertising and marketing opportunities that the tournament presents, the Advertising Standards Authority (the ASA) has published guidance to remind marketers of key issues to consider in order to avoid breaching its advertising codes, namely: the broadcast advertising code (the BCAP Code), covering adverts shown via broadcast media; and the non-broadcast code (the CAP Code), covering adverts shown via any other media (together, the Advertising Codes).

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Women’s Sports Still Rising in the US – and Another Record-Breaking Year for Women’s Basketball

In the spring of 2023, we reported from the US that women’s sports were on the rise.  Just one year later, that incredible momentum not only shows no signs of stopping – similar to the growth we have reported in the UK.  From the record-shattering viewership of  the NCAA women’s basketball tournament, to increasing opportunities for team sponsorships and greater prime-time media coverage, women’s sports have caught the attention of brands, companies, and fans around the world it’s climbing to new heights.

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Women In Sports Law London Breakfast Panel

Squire Patton Boggs and Women in Sports Law were delighted to co-host a breakfast panel event in London on 9 May 2024, showcasing four esteemed women working in the sports industry. The panellists included Edwina Haddon (Senior Counsel, Chelsea Football Club), Janice Shardlow (Director of Governance, Commonwealth Games Federation), Julia Lowis (Senior Legal Counsel, International Tennis Integrity Agency) and Catherine Ure (Legal Counsel, Red Bull Racing).

The thought-provoking and lively discussion included:

  • What initially attracted each panellist to sports law, and how they ultimately made it into the profession and their current role
  • Tips and tricks for women seeking to move into and upwards in sports law
  • Career challenges they have faced and how these were overcome
  • Current role and their typical working day
  • The dynamics of working in a male-dominated industry

Our panellists highlighted their differing professional backgrounds and career routes, and explained how they overcame various challenges in order to achieve their career goals (both personal and external hurdles). They also highlighted some key skills for success, how perseverance and resilience are vital, and the importance of a strong and intentional professional network. 

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Women’s Sport Round Up (UK)

On Leap Year Day 2024, Squire Patton Boggs held its inaugural women’s sport symposium, Leap into the Future of Women’s Sport.  Bringing together key figures from across the sports industry, the Symposium focussed on what is next for commercialisation, investment and growth, and maternity and parental policies.  For a flavour of the talking points, please see our recent blog on commercial rights in women’s sport.   

In the weeks following the Symposium, we have already seen some further leaps forward for this fast-moving industry.  The following is a round-up of some of the most recent developments in:

  • Women’s Rugby
  • Women’s Cricket
  • Women’s Football

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Women’s Sport Symposium: Panel Session – Commercialisation of Rights

Our dedicated Women’s Sport Group hosted its inaugural Women’s Sport Symposium on 29 February 2024 to discuss key issues across the women’s sporting landscape. Amongst other topics, a panel of key figures and experts, which was chaired by Sarah Butler (Founder of Sports Business Connected), discussed the pertinent issue of the commercialisation of women’s sports rights.

Key Opportunities and Challenges

Women’s sport, and the commercialisation of its rights, is at a crucial crossroads in its development. The exponential growth in the viewership and visibility of women’s sport in recent years has been widely reported and rightly celebrated. As covered in a previous Sports Shorts blog post, 2023 was another record-breaking year with 46.7m people tuning in to watch women’s sport on linear TV, surpassing the previous record set in 2019 by nearly a million.[1] Women’s elite sport is also predicted to break through the billion-dollar barrier and generate global revenues in excess of $1bn for the first time in 2024.[2] Whilst the numbers make for great reading and present numerous opportunities, they also bring with them certain challenges.

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Afghanistan Cricket: An ICC Conundrum

On 19 March 2024, Cricket Australia (“CA”) announced its decision to withdraw from their three-match men’s T20 series against Afghanistan because of the ongoing restrictions on women and girls in the country. This will be the third bilateral series that CA have declined to play against Afghanistan since the Taliban returned to power in August 2021. In March 2023, CA cited the “marked deterioration in human rights for women and girls” for not playing a scheduled ODI series, and the Australian Government has since advised that conditions are “getting worse”.[1] Once again, this has thrust the spotlight on Afghanistan’s continued status as a Full Member of the International Cricket Council (“ICC”) and whether more national cricket associations should be following CA’s lead by taking matters into their own hands.

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