Handbook on International Sports Law

Handbook on International Sports Law

Research Handbooks in International Law series

Edited by James A.R. Nafziger and Stephen F. Ross

This Handbook presents a comprehensive collection of essays by leading scholars and practitioners in the burgeoning field of international sports law.

Chapter 8: Adjudicative Technology in Sports

Simon Gardiner

Subjects: law - academic, comparative law, private international law, sports law


Simon Gardiner INTRODUCTION Judges, on the one hand, and sports umpires and referees, on the other, share many similarities. They all hold positions of power and responsibility in the adjudicative roles that they perform. They are applying both specific written laws and rules and more abstract principles. Their rulings are ‘interpretations’ of how the laws/rules should be applied to a determined factual situation. They also both assume something of a solitary and detached role; their function is to be one of objectivity. Within liberal democracies, both for the legal judge and the sporting umpire or referee, the ‘rule of law’ and all of its inherent values is an overriding guide to their deliberation: there should be a lack of bias, everyone is equal in the eyes of the laws/rules and participants must accept the rules and norms of conduct. However, it is unclear to what extent those subject to adjudication should also have some recourse. This is where perhaps some distinctions can be drawn. Rights of appeal in the law are not an absolute right but a privilege: there is finality in what circumstances legal decisions can be reviewed. In sport, there is a powerful discourse that, contrary to any specific provisions in sporting rules, the decisions of officials are absolute and decisive. For example, in cricket, the traditionally white-coated umpire is constructed as the ‘man in white is always right’ (even when he gets a decision wrong). Within the preamble to the Laws of Cricket, it...

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