HANDBALL!!! I think… (Part 2)

Football’s handball law has been under scrutiny from pundits, players and fans alike for some years now. Last year, Sports Shorts assessed the controversy of the new handball law, which has continued to depend on interpretation with little uniformity in its application across world football.

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A new post-Brexit system for the transfer of EU players

In a joint statement released last week, the Football Association (“FA”), the Premier League and the Football League (together, the “Stakeholders”) confirmed the Home Office approved points-based system that will apply to all overseas players, including EU nationals, hoping to join an English club from January 2021 onwards.

Following the end of the Brexit transition period, players from the EU will be subject to the requirement to earn Governing Body Endorsement (“GBE”) for the first time.  The FA has published updated GBE criteria for men’s players for the 2020/21 season (“New Criteria”) in time for the January transfer window.

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FIFA takes decisive action in strengthening women’s employment rights

In November, FIFA announced that its Stakeholders Committee (the “FSC”) had approved reforms aimed at strengthening employment rights for female players. These reforms offer necessary protections, such as guaranteed maternity leave, to all female football players playing for a club that is regulated by FIFA. At this stage the changes are only ‘proposed’, but they are expected to be approved by the FIFA Council this month.

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Concussion in football

mri scanOn Sunday evening, a clash of heads between David Luiz and Raul Jimenez in the Premier League match between Arsenal and Wolverhampton Wanderers gave public attention (again) to the issue around concussion protocols in football. Alan Shearer considers it a matter of “life and death” as he urged the sport to change the rules on head injuries.

Raul Jimenez underwent successful surgery on a fractured skull whilst David Luiz continued to play (albeit with a bleeding and bandaged head) but did not reappear after the half time break.

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CAS Dismisses Double Amputee’s Appeal in Fight to Compete at the Olympics

A recent award handed down by the Court of Arbitration for Sport has found in favour of World Athletics in its dispute with the US Paralympian 400m sprinter, Blake Leeper, concerning the athlete’s eligibility to run against able-bodied athletes in World Athletics Series competitions as well as next year’s Tokyo Olympics.

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The NBA is back! (It wasn’t gone for long)

Basketball and money on lawnAfter a very short off-season (71 days to be exact), the NBA is gearing up to commence the new 2020/21 season on 22 December with a 72-game regular season schedule. In the interim, fans can enjoy the NBA Draft and an unusually short free agency period.

In order to facilitate plans to begin a new season, the NBA’s Board of Governors (made up of the 30 NBA team owners) and the players approved the plans by majority, including changes to the collective bargaining agreement (CBA).

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Nikolay Bodurov vs Esteghlal: FIFA DRC considers ‘force majeure’ effect of COVID-19

Following the near global suspension of football activity, many clubs were put in the unfortunate position of being unable to satisfy their existing contractual obligations as significant revenue streams from gate receipts, sponsorship and broadcast were all severely impacted.

FIFA has recently published a decision which concerns the extent to which the global pandemic has caused a ‘force majeure’ event and whether that gave rise to a viable argument excusing a club’s non-payment of contractually agreed salaries.

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United States District Court Delivers RKO as Motion for Summary Judgment is Dismissed

A recent United States district court decision on copyright infringement has brought the issue of recreation of tattoos in video games back into the spotlight, and has cast doubt on an earlier ruling from another district court in a different judicial circuit.

The gravamen of the case was the digital depiction of five tattoos on professional wrestler and current WWE champion, Randy Orton, in the “WWE 2K” professional wresting video game series.  The plaintiff, tattoo artist Catherine Alexander, filed the lawsuit against the defendants (collectively, “Take-Two”), who develop the WWE 2K video game series and sought to recreate Orton’s tattoos in a digital format.  While Take-Two had obtained permission to use Orton’s likeness in the video game, Alexander claimed copyright infringement pursuant to 17 U.S.C., § 501 with respect to Orton’s tattoos, and argued that her consent to include Orton’s tattoos was required, but was not provided.  Importantly, Alexander had earlier registered copyrights for each of the tattoos at issue.

Alexander filed a motion for partial summary judgment on the issue of copyrighting, and Take-Two filed its own cross-motion for summary judgment, arguing that Alexander’s copyright claim was insufficient as a matter of law, and requested that the Court dismiss the claim accordingly.  Judge Staci Yandle in the US District Court for the Southern District of Illinois (Seventh Circuit) granted Alexander’s motion, but denied Take-Two’s motion.

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Messi scores goal in trade mark dispute: registering celebrity names as trade marks

The Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”) has ruled that, after a decade-long legal battle, football ace Lionel Messi has the right to register his name as a trade mark.

This interesting case confirms that celebrity names are registrable as trade marks. However, whilst there are some advantages to seeking such protection, there are also some risks that need to be taken into account.

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Breaking stride? Elite running shoes back in the spotlight

New records

Issues surrounding athletics footwear returned to the spotlight this month as two athletes wearing new models of Nike running spikes ran in world record times at an event in Valencia, Spain.

Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei and Ethiopia’s Letsenbet Gidey broke the men’s 10,000 metre and women’s 5,000 metre world records respectively wearing Nike’s ZoomX Dragonfly shoes at a meeting in Valencia, Spain.

Meanwhile, men’s marathon world record holder and Nike poster-boy Eliud Kipchoge completed the London Marathon wearing Nike’s Alphafly NEXT% shoes – the first time he has worn a version of the controversial shoes in an official race. Despite being surprisingly beaten to victory by Shura Kitata, it was notable that Kitata was also wearing Nike shoes (albeit from the Vaporfly range).

The four fastest official times in men’s marathon history have been set by athletes wearing the shoes since Kipchoge set his world record of 2:01:39 in September 2018.

Commentators are asking: is it still possible for runners wearing competitor brands to compete with Nike-sponsored athletes at the top level? Critics argue that Nike’s range of high-specification shoes – including the Dragonfly spikes for track races and Vaporfly and Alphafly ranges for road running – offer their athletes an unfair advantage. Among other features, the shoes’ soles include a spring-like carbon-fibre plating that assist with stabilising the shoe and directing momentum forwards during each stride.

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