Application of law in the field of sports is very essential in order to maintain the decorum and sportsmanship of the athletes and sports persons.
Sports law touches on a variety of matters, including contract, tort, agency, antitrust, constitutional, labor, trademark, Sex Discrimination, criminal, and tax issues. Some laws depend on the status of the athlete, some laws differ according to the sport, and some laws vary for other reasons.
Importance of sports:-
- Sports is an essential part of livelihood as it promotes good health and creates greater life expectancy.
- Sports provides people a means to showcase their talents.
- Some people make their careers in various sports and hence earn their living.
-Sports helps in the personality development in form of values like discipline, teamwork, ambition and so on.
- Sports is a major source of recreation for people all over the world.
- Sports also helps in the growth of the economy.
Hence providing a proper, healthy sports environment through law becomes a backbone for carrying out every small and large sports event.
Sports laws in India :-
There is no specific legislative body for regulating sports and it’s events in India. The Ministry of Youth and Sports affairs is the decision making body overall India. The ministry creates infrastructure and fulfills the requirements for both national and international events.
The Ministry of Youth and Sports affairs is presently headed by Kiren Rijiju. The ministry also gives national annual sports awards like Rajeev Gandhi Khel Ratna award and Arjuna award.
A sports governing body is a sports organization that has a regulatory or sanctioning function. Sports governing bodies come in various forms, and have a variety of regulatory functions. Examples of this can include disciplinary action for rule infractions and deciding on rule changes in the sport that they govern.
Governing bodies have different scopes. They may cover a range of sport at an International level, such as the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee, or only a single sport at a national level, such as the Rugby Football League. National bodies will largely have to be affiliated to international bodies for the same sport. The first international federations were formed at the end of the 19th century.
The other bodies governing sports in India are :-
- National Sports Policy- responsible for advancement and promotion of sports and grant incentives to sports federations.
- Sports Law and Welfare Association of India- has goals in understanding, advancement, and ethical practice of Sports Law in India for the promotion of Sports, by bringing Legal Practitioners and Sports persons together.
- Sports Authority of India- has role in coordination of various sports events in India.
- The Sports Broadcasting Law in India-
Has objective to provide access to the largest number of listeners and viewers, on a free to air basis, of sporting events of national importance.
Any illegal practice carried out by any player is catered to by the respective governing body in that sports. However, when the illegal practice is carried out by the governing body, anyone of the members or players can lodge a complaint in court requesting for necessary action.
Legal issues in the field of sports:-
1. Ethical issues –
.Usage of unfair means in the field of sports is a legal offense. Violence in between any event is not tolerated. Creating violence destroys the prestige environment of any sports.
.Unethical practices of over competition is also not encouraged . Over competitiveness may give rise to jealousy and adaptations of unfair means.
.Bribing in sports is also a major offence. Taking money or favour in any form to perturb the sportsmanship is very unfair.
.Use of steroids and performance booster drugs to enhance performance is also a legal offense.
Match fixing and betting are one of the worst problem faced in the field of sports.
.Lying about the right age or weight and competing in a wrong category is also an offense which should not be committed.
Preferance given to any team or player or any country is highly disappointing as it pollutes the sportsman spirits of the player. Bias because of any reason should not be allowed. A fair and unbiased judgement is the true reward to hardwork.
Cricket is a sports which has a major importance in our country. Enough aids and support is not provided to other sports.
3. Gender discrimination –
Discretion based on gender is a common issue in sports but should not be practiced anywhere. Women should be given equal opportunities to participate and showcase their talents. Transgender men and women should also be given equal participation in every sports.
Many women sports person like Geeta Phogat faced gender discrimination despite of being an asset to the nation.
4.Professional sports leagues, acknowledged that professional athletes have the right to form unions, or “players associations.” It is now common for these professional players associations to call for work strikes in order to apply pressure to owners, usually while negotiating salary standards for the league.These strikes should be highly discouraged and should not be allowed to destroy the vibe of any sports.
- One common issue related to sports law have to do with contract negotiations. Players hire agents to represent them in negotiations of multimillion dollar player contracts, trades, promotional deals, etc. Cities negotiate for franchise rights to have a resident team. Stadiums have a stream of commercial contracts with vendors for food and merchandise. Media companies contract for broadcast rights. Obviously, there are many other types of contracts involved in sports law, as well.
- Any personal or political or social agenda should not be put in place of success of any sports or individual player.
- Enough financial support should be given for the required equipments to each and every player from the initial. Many talented players fear to pursue sports due to lack of monetary beneficiaries required for the sports.
Players like Mary kom, Milkha Singh did not have enough financial aid to pursue sports.
- Many mergers of clubs occur from time to time.These occur especially when due to lack of equipments and money a club is unable to continue with the sport. This is a huge demotivating factor especially for the fans who give their heart and soul for boosting encouragement.
Example:- Mohun bagan football club merged with ATK club.
Remedies For The issues :-
- Every player’s problem should be catered to. They should be given access to doctors, psychiatrists, physiotherapy to reduce the pressure they go through every day. This is solve problems related to unethical practices.
- The government should give financial incentives to talented players so that they fearlessly pursue sports as their career.
- Drug or dope tests should be intensively carried out. Betting and matching fixing should be controlled.
- The judiciary should be well equipped to intricate sports related cases.
More advocates should be encouraged to practise sports law. Only renowned firm is Khurana and Khurana who practice sports law.
5.Sports authorities in India should not have
Unreasonable and complex dispute solving mechanism which will make them unapproachable.
- The Sportsmen can resolve a problem with help of private Arbitration or submit the dispute to Dispute resolution bodies like ICC, FICCI etc. These institutions have a panel of arbitrators from amongst whom the Arbitrator or mediator is appointed. They can help in resolving any issues.
For Sports and Sportsmen to flourish, Sport law needs to flourish in India; the intervention of the Legislature is must. India need to understand that sports is no more an insignificant array of sportsmen battling for top position but it also involves intricate legal issue and the entire career of the sportsmen is at stake. There is a distinct legal system emanating from this field and should be given adequate attention. Sports law should form part of the course curriculum for law students.
Sports Law is definitely a rewarding profession. Attempt should be made to ameliorate the sporting environment with the aid of law. Sport is not limited to recreation alone but is a matter of National pride. The emergence of Indian Premiere League and Indian Cricket League has started to raise very important issues regarding Competition Law in the recent times. This adequately demonstrates the need to improve Sports Law in India. Khurana and Khurana is actively involved in Sports Litigation as well as Sports Law arbitration.
SAYAN MUKHERJEE, UNIVERSITY OF CALCUTTA, DEPERTMENT OF LAW, HAZRA CAMPUS