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.


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”…


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.


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.


  • 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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Lance Armstrong pays $5 million to settle $100 million US Government Law Suit

Lance Armstrong has agreed to pay $5,000,000 to settle claims that he defrauded the federal government by using performance-enhancing drugs at the time that the US Postal Service sponsored his cycling team. It is reported that the US Postal Service paid Armstrong and his cycling team as much as $40,000,000 as part of the sponsorship.

In 2013, Armstrong admitted that he had used banned substances whilst competing in a number of cycling races, which includes seven Tour de France titles from 1999 to 2005. The United States Anti-Doping Agency investigated Armstrong and stripped him of all of his Tour de France titles, concluding that he had in fact been doping during this period.

Armstrong was accused of misleading the US Postal Service, which is a government institution and thus purported to damage the brand and reputation of the institution.

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Out of the Woods – the return of Golf’s biggest star and its impact on the sporting world

This year’s Masters tournament marked Tiger Woods’ first return to the major championships in three years. Although the primary aim was pursuit of his fifth Green Jacket and 15th major title, the fresh round of excitement and buzz brought about by the iconic golfer’s return has sent the sporting world into a frenzy, generating huge brand exposure in the process. Sports Marketing Agency Nielson Sports quantified “the Tiger Effect” in its release of new industry data of golf’s man to watch.

Nielson Sports highlighted the bump in airtime for Woods and his sponsors during the PGA Tour where he received a staggering 583 minutes of branding exposure which accounted for nearly double the amount of time on screen compared to 320 minutes of other top 10 golfers. Teamed with the fact that the Masters is a “clean course”, this amounted to a lucrative win for the brands representing Woods on his clothing and equipment.

Woods’ comeback clearly still packs a powerful punch evidenced by the two million increase in television viewership over the four Golfing events this season where Woods ranked within the top 25. This equated to an impressive increase of 93% more fans and viewers tuning in compared to the same events last year.

Furthermore on the social media front there have been 3.5 million posts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter that mention Tiger Woods from 1 January to 30 March 2018. Interestingly, 71 per cent of Tweets mentioned Woods during the Valspar Championship, with just five per cent mentioning winner Paul Casey all in all.

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UEFA charge Liverpool over fans conduct in Champions League

UEFA is investigating the conduct of Liverpool fans over the two-legs of Liverpool’s Champions League quarterfinal fixture.

UEFA has charged Liverpool under Article 16(2) of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations, which provides:

However, all associations and clubs are liable for the following inappropriate behaviour on the part of their supporters and may be subject to disciplinary measures and directives even if they can provide the absence of any negligence in relation to the organisation of the match:

  1. The invasion or attempted invasion of the field of play;
  2. The throwing of objects;
  3. The lighting of fireworks or any other objects;
  4. The use of laser pointers or similar electronic devices;
  5. The use of gestures, words, objects or any other means to transmit a provocative message that is not fit for a sports event, particularly provocative messages that are of a political, ideological, religious or offensive nature;
  6. Acts of damage;
  7. Causing a disturbance during national anthems;
  8. Any other lack of order or discipline observed inside or around the stadium.

In the first-leg of the quarterfinal, Liverpool fans flooded the gates of Anfield to welcome the opposition team bus. Fans were seen throwing objects at the bus, prompting UEFA to charge Liverpool for acts of damage and crowd disturbances under Article 16(2) whilst the lighting of fireworks and flares and the throwing of objects during the game also prompted UEFA to charge Liverpool for its fans conduct.

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A pro-active approach to doping – raising the bar at the Commonwealth Games

The 2018 Commonwealth Games are currently taking place on the Gold Coast of Australia.

With doping still at the forefront of discussions in world sport, especially athletics, the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (“ASADA”) implemented a pro-active approach to doping in advance of the Commonwealth Games. More than 3,000 tests were conducted by the ASADA in an effort to identify and remove athletes who may be cheating.

In essence the programme removed ‘cheats’ before the Games began.

The ASADA Chief, David Sharpe, explained:

if you don’t [remove athletes before they arrive at the Games], clean athletes might not have their chance to stand on the podium and hear their national anthem”.

The approach was not a matter of imposing a general blanket of tests but rather it was intelligence-led. The tests targeted certain athletes instead of implementing a purely random selection of tests. This led to three Australian athletes being caught before the Games and subsequently prevented from being selected for the Games and competing.

Since the Games commenced, not a single athlete has been found doping. Tests have been conducted during the course of the Games but no adverse findings have been made.

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