Research Handbooks in International Law series
Edited by James A.R. Nafziger and Stephen F. Ross
Chapter 1: International Sports Law
James A.R. Nafziger I. INTRODUCTION Law, like politics, has accompanied sports competition throughout history, and this law often has had a unique status. For example, the ancient Olympic Games relied on ad hoc ofﬁcials – essentially judges – who were equipped with special sanctions to enforce both the rules of the game in a particular contest and the organizational rules of the Games as a whole. Notice to both the participating city-states and athletes of their obligations took the form of statues dedicated to Zeus (called zanes) that were ﬁnanced from ﬁnes imposed on city-states and placed as reminders near the entrance to the stadium.1 Two millennia later, in the eighteenth century, a court in Tuscany denied relief to owners of property damaged by stray balls from a traditional ball game. The court reasoned that sports took priority over torts because regularly scheduled public amusements created legal servitudes on neighboring property.2 Today, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) struggles with a similar issue within the European Union, namely the extent to which sports activity is ‘special’ or has ‘speciﬁcity’ and is thus subject only to its own legal regime beyond the regulatory competence of the European Union.3 The contemporary legal regime governing sports blends normal rules and procedures transcending sports activity – general contract and tort law, employment law, competition (anti-trust) law, and so on – with a distinctive and coherent body of what has come to be known as ‘sports law.’ The justiﬁcation for a specialized regime of law is...
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