The article 'Global Governance of Sports Law' presents an overview of the significant transformation in recent decades, marked by the rapid commercialization and globalization of sporting events.

The article 'Global Governance of Sports Law' presents an overview of the significant transformation in recent decades, marked by the rapid commercialization and globalization of sporting events. This article delves into the complex web of international regulations that govern sports, examining their evolution and their profound impact on the modern sporting ecosystem.


International sports federations are the main targets of legal regulation as sports become more global. These organisations are the global governing bodies of sports. Such organisations have constitutions and bylaws. They can have significant monetary and social implications and impact players' careers. As a result of their autonomy, they are independent of national governments. It is crucial to determine who controls and regulates the actions of these organizations. While international sports federations often have a degree of autonomy and some legal protections, they are not the only international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to claim legal immunity.

Important Aspects of Sports: An Overview

What is the "Sports Law"? Many people have asked this question. A person stumbles when answering this question. This hesitation could be explained by a difficulty in articulating the goals of this fascinating field of law.

Evolution of Sports Law

i. Traditional Position: Nonexistent

Many years ago, it was wrongly believed that sports law consisted of a mixture of sub-fields within the legal profession. The view was that sports law is not an independent set of laws, but relies on the wider legal framework. The authors of a popular textbook about "sports laws", in this context, made the controversial claim that the term "sports law" was misleading. Sports law is the simple application of legal concepts to sports business.

ii. Moderate Position, where things started shaping up

However, in recent decades sports fans and scholars have started to question this traditional method. As a sector that is rapidly growing, they believed sports needed solid legal support to continue its success. The increase of sports law and competition lawyers has led to a change in attitude in the legal profession. Professor Burlette Carter, one of many legal luminaries to push for the recognition of sports law as a separate speciality, is just one. She said that the transformational process of sports law parallels increased attention by law faculties on sports, as well as the increasing importance of sports regulation for participants, organizations, and communities. These changes, she said, would turn sports law into a separate field of study. The rise of independent regulatory bodies on the federal, State, and Nonprofit levels has contributed to this shift.

The Principles of sports law can be applied by national courts. The concept of global sports law, on the other hand, is a defence against local jurisdictions. Lex sportiva is a term that has been used by some writers to refer to globalisation in sports law. In this sense, the phrase "global sports law" can be considered synonymous. The term "global sports law" is used to draw attention to the reality that international sports federations are still regulating themselves behind it. It is argued that both domestic and international sports law shouldn't be involved. It is therefore against the rule of law to control sports at a global level.

iii. In Recent times

Sports law is now a separate subset of the legal profession. Others believe that sports include a wide range of activities. It includes the broadcasting and regulation of sports around the globe, as well as the different types of sports. In order to do this, it is necessary to use some kind of substantive law. Sports law is often seen as a mishmash of laws and practices, not based on any specific principles. This statement is true for the majority of substantive legal fields.

The criminal and civil laws have a common but distinct basis. Take an example of the Criminal law, its primary goal is to punish wrongdoers. It is classified, however, as a universal standard of accountability for everyone. The legal jargon will overlap. Sports law is not just taught in law schools around the globe, but it's a popular speciality among lawyers. The sports industry has become a multi-billion dollar business. The law has helped to transform sport from an activity of leisure into a lucrative and sophisticated industry which provides protection and safeguards to players.

Comparing International and Global Sports Law

It's crucial to distinguish between "international" and "global" sports law. International law focuses on the relationships between sovereign countries. International sports law is the collection of concepts from international law which are applicable to sport. The concepts of international sports law go beyond public international law, and the rule of law provides additional protection in sports. The Western democracy's constitutional protections are based on these concepts. The preliminary list could include things such as regulations that are simple to understand, fairness in disciplinary proceedings, absence of arbitrariness or illogic conclusions and objective criteria when making decisions.

These broad legal concepts are based on the rulings by national courts on sports law. Global sports law could be viewed as an independent transnational legal system created by global private entities that oversee international sports. It is first a contract, with binding powers derived from the agreement to submit to international athletic federations' authority and jurisdiction. Second, it doesn't fall under any national legal system. Teubner said it best: "Global law without a State."

International sports federations have created a set of unique transnational standards based on their interpretations of the rules and regulations. It is a legal system independent of any other that exists on a global scale. It means domestic courts or governments do not have jurisdiction over sports federations. They can only be controlled by their own institutions or the ones they have created or recognized outside. Most forms of law enforcement are immune to them.

This divide in international sports law reflects Houlihan’s concept of globalized and internationalised sport. In his opinion, ‘internationalised sport’ is built on nation-states, just as is international law. Many countries provide funding for international televised sporting events and control the activity at the local level. The teams in "globalized sport", sometimes called "sport without state," often take their names from corporate sponsors, rather than nationalities. This is true of professional road racing and Formula One motorsport. Standardising sports on a worldwide scale homogenises an industry and reduces regional and national variations. Sports rely on corporate sponsorship instead of government funding.

Beloff’s lex sportiva proposal is ambiguous as to its intended meaning. It could be interpreted to mean international sports law or even global sports law. He makes arguments in his lex sportiva definition that support the idea of an independent legal system operating outside the scope of national law systems. For the purposes of this analysis, I'll assume he means my description of lex sportiva, which is a global sports law. In lex sportiva, the notion of lex-mercatoria has been referred to on purpose. There is an extensive body of literature on lex mercatoria.

International Sports Law and Governance

What is the origin of these fundamental ideas? One possible explanation is the jus commun, or customary international law. Mertens enumerates principles such as "pacta est servanda", equity, the doctrines of proportionality and personal liability, as well as the doctrine of clausula recus sic statibus as universal laws that sports federations are required to adhere to. These can be enforced and are expected by all legal institutions with jurisdiction. International sports federations are unable to choose their interpretation or use because of the widespread application. They are restricted in their freedom.

The international sports organizations have their own laws and regulations. They have their own regulations all over the globe. These are international laws that exist independently of any sovereign states. They create "international governance" for sport. Do the norms that result from global governance have a defining quality? Are these regulations lex sportiva, and thus exempt from national law? Do international sports governing bodies operate within their legal system? In order to answer these questions it is important that we examine the terminology of the sport in detail.

Sports rules can be divided into 4 main categories:

1. The rules of play. Each sport has its own set of technical and legal rules. They are usually set by organizations such as the International Olympic Committee. They are the foundation of the sport. They can't be defeated in the course of normal play.

2. Second, morality and sportsmanship. They regulate more questions of honesty and justice than formal formalism. These norms address behaviours that are in violation of what is commonly called the "spirit of the game." These concepts can be a problem when sports organizations are brought before the court. Every sport has its unique "legal" order, with all its peculiarities. Even when controlled by international sports federations this still remains an internal lex speciis and is not unique to the global.

3. The third is the international sports legislation. It acknowledges that there are universal laws which should apply to all sports. The 'rule of law' is established in sports by including basic safeguards such as due process and a right to a fair hearing.

4. International sports law is the fourth area. Below are the concepts that derive from private contract orders established by rules and regulations of international sports federations. These concepts have their own personality.

Global Sports Law and Independence

This Part discusses the idea of international-globalised sports law as an independent body of law. International sports federations are yet to rely on an independent lex sportiva in order to assert their independence. This claim of a separate legal status is rooted in international law. Four main points are being raised.

This argument takes on its most extreme form when it asserts that international sports governing bodies are exempt from any legal liability. The same protection as that which English unions enjoyed between 1906 and 1982. Their immunity is due to the transnational nature and unique administration of sports federations. International customary law gives the International Olympic Committee several of these diplomatic immunity aspects. International customary law recognizes that the International Olympic Committee is almost like a sovereign state. Nations are therefore not subject to domestic court proceedings based on international law.

The Amateur Sports Act, of 1978 gives the USOC its authority as "the national Olympic Committee in relation to the International Olympic Committee". The Charter of the International Olympic Committee implicitly gives its actor status' In Rule 1 of the Olympic Charter the International Olympic Committee has been referred to as "the supreme power of the Olympic Movement", and in Rule 9.2 it is "the last authority on all questions concerning the Olympic Games". The international legal personality of the International Olympic Committee has caused some controversy. They are considered a global non-governmental organization. The ability to engage in international law duties, and have international interactions with others like nations is what international legal personality has traditionally been defined as.

In terms of the second claim, the international athletic federations' greater level of regulation is more limited than an absolute exemption. They ensure that their sport is the most important on the global stage by establishing conventions which build on each other. They are claiming that the athletes' primary responsibility is to adhere to the policies of their organization, rather than follow the laws of their country. Legal pluralists are drawn to lex sportiva by this assertion. Legal pluralism is often characterized by the assertion that there exist several legal systems within a single nation-state. This argument implies or explicitly that the national law allows for a parallel system to be legitimate in some way. Lex Sportiva is different from national law because it prioritizes the rules established by international sports organisations.

This interpretation holds that an international sports organization has the power to create binding international law by adopting its own rules and regulations. Domestic courts around the globe will uphold this law. However, the English judiciary seems to disagree with this view.

Cooke v. FA, 1972: When the Court found that a national football association had engaged in restrictions of trade, it was clear that the "binding authority" of FIFA rules could not be used as a defence.
Lord Denning stated in Reel v. Holder: "We are not concerned about international law or sovereignty." We are only concerned with how IAAF regulations will be interpreted.

Lex Sportiva can be viewed as an international order that domestic courts must obey. The lex sportiva establishes global norms and guidelines that set the limits of each organization's regulatory authority. It establishes, in other words, the limit beyond which legislatures and courts may not interfere with the activities of national and international sports federations, to the extent they act as agents for the former.

Lastly, the international sports federations assert their independence in handling conflicts. In order to have the last word on the matter, they prevent athletes from going to national courts. You can go about it in a number of ways. Rules may stipulate that in certain circumstances, a judge’s decision is final. These terms are called "exclusions clauses" in the sports world. Arbitration private can be used to settle disputes. Most often, an arbitration group is formed by the International Sports Federation or, more recently, the Court of Arbitration for Sport to listen to complaints. It may then be legal to question the independence of the arbitral group or whether the arbitration rules were required. The athlete's acceptance of the rules can be challenged in both cases.

Athletes must first sign contracts that state they won't sue international sports associations before they are allowed to compete at international competitions. The last three Olympic Games have used these exceptions. The plans are designed to establish a system of private justice that regulates sports without being subject to court oversight or interference. This plan strips athletes of their protection under national law and exposes them to the unfair decisions taken by international sports associations.

In the ideal scenario, they can take their case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. All other cases will be handled by an arbitral panel selected by and established by the sports organization.

Position in India

In the last few decades, Indian sports have become a multibillion-dollar business. In response, the government established the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. The Indian government split its Department of Youth Affairs into two in April 2008. Each organization was led by a secretary.

In the Olympic Charter, it is stated that Indian sports federations operate independently of the Indian Government. Indian Olympic Association is responsible for representing India and supporting Indian sports in other countries. The Board of Control for Cricket in India is an example of a governing body for sport. The world's governing authority is often very closely associated with the governing body for a particular sport. Sports clubs and associations may register under the Societies Registration Act XXI of 1860 in order to be legally recognized. Direct grants are provided by the government, in either cash or indirect grants like tax exemptions. A sports club that wants to receive money from the federal government must employ an independent monitor who will oversee its activities.


Sports Law is a relatively new and developing body of laws, but it can influence an industry worth billions of dollars. This sector impacts millions of people all over the world. The spirit of competition is also preserved. Sports law experts' opinions can influence how people perceive the subject. Simply put, it's clear that the area of sports law deserves the level of attention now being given to it. You will gain a thorough understanding of sports legislation if you read this series of articles. At the core of lex sportiva (international sports law), is an argument in favour of self-regulation, or for a private system to govern and administer justice.


[1] Global Overview of the Sports Law, Available Here

[2] Is There a Global Sports Law?, Available Here

[3] Nafziger, J. 'Globalizing Sports Law,' Marquette Sports Law Journal 9 (1999), 225, 237

[4] Globalisation and Sport Policy, Available Here

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Sanjoli Verma

Sanjoli Verma

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