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, once again proving that sport can be deployed as an instrument of diplomacy.

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 and, more generally, the role that sport can play in advancing harmony and peace.

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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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Is a salary cap the answer to Team Sky’s dominance in cycling?

Sports Shorts has previously covered the idea of introducing a form of a salary cap in football after Aleksander Ceferin, the UEFA President, suggested that the greatest problem facing football is “the competitive balance between teams”.

The idea of balancing competition by imposing a salary cap system is now being discussed amongst the cycling community after Team Sky’s recent dominance in the sport.

Team Sky launched in 2010 and won the 2012 Tour de France with Bradley Wiggins, followed by victory the next year through Chris Froome who went on to win the Tour de France in 2015, 2016 and 2017. Team Sky won this year’s race with Geraint Thomas, which signaled their sixth Tour de France triumph within seven years. Froome also won Team Sky’s first Vuelta a España in 2017 (becoming the first British rider to win the race) and its first Giro d’Italia this year.

It is no secret that Team Sky are dominating the sport. Chris Froome himself admitted in 2016 that, “If I was riding for a small team it would be very different.”

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I’m stumped: Bowler denies batsman maiden ton but gives opposition the win

You are a bowler playing in a Somerset Cricket League fixture. The batting team needs five runs to win but giving up two runs will provide the batsman his maiden ton.

Do you:

  1. Bowl the ball, try to get the batting team out before they make five runs; or
  2. Throw the ball to the boundary? This concedes five runs so the opposing team win and denies the batsman his maiden ton.

Option B was the unusual decision made by a player from Purnell Cricket Club in a match against Minehead Second XI. Although the reasons for him doing so are unclear, as a result he received a nine game ban from playing in the league.

The Somerset Cricket League’s Disciplinary Committee reviewed the incident and reached this decision on the basis that (1) his actions were against the spirit of the game and (2) the player had brought the league, his team and the game of cricket into disrepute. These grounds are detailed in the SCL’s Rules for the Season 2018, which is taken from the England and Wales Cricket Board’s Model Discipline Regulations. The relevant details of which are:

The Spirit of Cricket

1.2 Spirit of Cricket

Cricket is a game that owes much of its unique appeal to the fact that it should be played not only within its Laws, but also within the Spirit of the Game. Any action which is seen to abuse this spirit causes injury to the game itself. The major responsibility for ensuring the spirit of fair play rests with the captains.

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20 million to one – the FIFA eWorld Cup

Traditionally during the British summer months, sports other than football get to dominate the headlines through the game’s summer break.

Despite recent events in Russia lengthening last year’s football season, this weekend saw a number of non-football related events take the sporting headlines:

One other major event, however, was football related, as Saudi Arabia’s Mosaad ‘Msdossary’ Aldossary, was crowned winner of the 2018 Fifa eWorld Cup in London, securing himself a $250,000 prize as a result.

The rise of gaming and eSports has been covered in some detail on this blog. Yesterday’ event was yet further evidence of its exponential growth.

How many tournaments can claim a winner narrowed down from over 20 million entrants? This is how many entered this year’s tournament in November last year with Aldossary claiming victory at the Grand Final at the O2 in front of a crowd of hundreds.

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A turn of fortune for AC Milan as CAS partially uphold Financial Fair Play Appeal

On 27 June 2018, UEFA’s Adjudicatory Chamber of the Club Financial Control Body (“CFCB”) issued a decision to exclude AC Milan from participating in the next UEFA club competition for which it would otherwise qualify in for the next two seasons.

This meant that AC Milan would be prevented from competing in the Europa League next season, for which the club had qualified.

The CFCB found that AC Milan contravened Financial Fair Play (“FFP”) rules, in particular the requirement for clubs to break-even, balancing the club’s spending with its revenues. This rule aims to restrict clubs from accumulating debt. The CFCB is an independent branch of UEFA and reviews the last three years’ worth of club finances in order to assess whether clubs have complied with the break-even requirement.AC Milan has experienced some difficulty in recent years in re-establishing its dominance in European competitions and at home in Serie A. Deloitte’s Football Money League report in 2017 revealed AC Milan’s total revenue for the season was €191.7m, the 22nd highest of a football club that year. The report notes:

AC Milan’s departure from the top 20 is their first and is remarkable given they had been in the top ten in every edition up to and including 2012/13.”

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Sam Warburton’s retirement from rugby union. What will the sport learn from this?

Two weeks ago former Wales and British and Irish Lions captain Sam Warburton retired from rugby at the age of 29. He has struggled with a long list of rugby related injuries, most recently having knee surgery in December 2017 and neck surgery in September 2017 and following which he claimed, “my body is unable to give me back what I had hoped for on my return to training”.

When one considers the retirement of this young player, who chose to prioritise his long-term health and wellbeing, together the growing rate of injuries and concussions in the sport, will it provoke changes within rugby’s regulations to make it safer?

As part of the Professional Rugby Injury Surveillance Project, the annual injury audit of rugby union analysed injury trends. It found for example that the average time taken for players to return from injury in the 2016-2017 season was 32 days. This was the first time this figure had risen above the expected upper limit of seasonal variation. Further, concussion was the most commonly reported match injury, at 22% of all match injuries. The average time taken for players to return from medically diagnosed match concussion was 18 days and this was a rise on the previous year. Continue Reading

What is biomechanics and how is it useful in athletics?

On Sunday the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) released 38 reports as part of the largest ever biomechanics study in athletics. For those who haven’t heard of this term before, biomechanics is essentially ‘the physics of sports’. It is the science of analysing human movement and examples include analysing how a swimmer’s hand positioning affects their propulsion or how a tennis player’s positioning affects the strength of their shot. At sport’s highest levels where milliseconds and millimetres can determine who is a medallist, this area of research should enable athletes to perfect finer details and improve overall performance. Biomechanics reflects the rise in the use of technology and athlete data we are seeing throughout various sports.

Alongside the thousands of spectators present at last year’s IAAF World Championships in London were 49 high speed and HD cameras. Their recordings were analysed by the IAAF in partnership with Leeds Beckett University. In their results, the reports evaluate the movements of the world’s top athletes such as Usain Bolt, Mo Farah and Allyson Felix. Taking the Men’s 100m report by way of example, it goes into meticulous detail down to measuring the angles at which various parts of the eight finalists’ bodies were positioned at touchdown and toe off (i.e. when their foot was in contact with the ground and when that same foot was in the air). The detail can seen in the figures below.

More somewhat digestible data was produced, for example, athletes’ mean speed over each 10-metre split and their mean step length over 100 metres. From this, athletes and coaches can gain a useful insight into the movements of the world’s best athletes, and competitors can try to replicate the same biomechanical movements in their events to improve their performance.

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WADA issue statement to ‘clarify facts’ of the UCI decision

Last week Sports Shorts considered the UCI decision to close the investigation against four time Tour de France winner Chris Froome. In the wake of that decision, criticism of Froome and the decision was still present with the Team Sky rider being booed at the team presentation. Froome ultimately did not get off to the best start at the competition crashing into Richie Porte on the first day.

It appears that suspicions remain in relation to the events that have led to the case being dropped, which can only have be compounded by the closed door process that led to that decision. In the light of this, WADA decided to publish a statement last night on 11 July 2018 to “clarify elements that have been subject to much speculation and misinformation.”

The WADA statement was split into two sections, section one being “The substance, the test and the science” and section two “The process”. The key elements of the statement are summarised below.

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