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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - International Dispute Resolution

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | Faculty of Law | International Dispute Resolution | Events | 2019/2020 academic year | Dr Antonida Netzer and Olga Hamama on Sports and Dispute Resolution, 13 December 2020

Dr Antonida Netzer and Olga Hamama on Sports and Dispute Resolution, 13 December 2020


On Friday, 13 December 2020, the IDR LL.M. class had the privilege to attend an insightful lecture on ”Sports and Dispute Resolution”, bringing together Dr Antonida Netzer, Counsel at the German Arbitration Institute (DIS) in Berlin, and Ms Olga Hamama, co-founder of V29 Legal - Duve Hamama Rechtsanwaelte – PartGmbB, a law firm specialising in sports dispute resolution based in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.

Dr Netzer has been associated with the German Court of Arbitration for Sport, which has the advantage of administering arbitration proceedings related to contractual, commercial, corporate or disciplinary disputes, besides having numerous cooperation agreements with various national sports associations. Ms Hamama has been involved in numerous arbitration proceedings before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), besides advising clients on other sports-related matters, such as governance and transfer issues.


With this background, the lecture was kickstarted by Dr. Netzer, who began with the economic, political and social importance of sports. She engagingly explained how sports law can be considered as an independent substantive area of law and how lex sportiva (sports law) is different from the lex ludica (formal rules of sport) and  the lex arbitri. She also elucidated the pyramid structure of sports, consisting of governing bodies such as supranational organisations such as the IOC, international associations like FIFA, IAAF, FIBA, continental associations such as the UEFA, as well as national sports federations like the DFB. She went on to analyse the legal classification of international sport associations and their main characteristics. Dr Netzer also touched upon two key principles, namely the “principle of non-intervention” implying extensive freedoms of the sport associations, and the “principle of one place” whereby there can be only one national sports federation for one sport per country. This led particularly well into the discussions on the CAS jurisprudence of Kenya Football Federation v. FIFA (2008) and the case of European Commission v. International Skating Union (2017). The lecture then shifted to sports dispute resolution with Dr Netzer studying the issue from a wider lens by explaining how the dispute resolution system functions within associations such as the German Football Federation (DFB), UEFA, FIFA and the IOC.


After Dr Netzer’s presentation on the sports governance structure and dispute resolution, Ms Hamama took the podium to discuss the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and the anti-doping regulations. She began by giving a brief historical overview of the CAS from its creation until 1994 and how the Elmar Gundel v. International Equestrian Federation judgment led to a major reform of the CAS resulting in the creation of an “International Council of Arbitration for Sport” (ICAS) and subsequently the “Paris Agreement” of 1994. Other major changes included the creation of two arbitration divisions (Ordinary Arbitration Division and Appeals Arbitration Division) in order to make a clear distinction between disputes of sole instance and those arising from a decision taken by a sports body and finally, the CAS reforms being enshrined in a “Code of Sports-related Arbitration”. Ms Hamama then gave a peek into the anti-doping regulations including the characteristics of the sanctions in the World Anti-Doping Code (WADC) and the functioning of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).


After having demonstrated the incredible importance of the anti-doping regulations, Ms Hamama took the students on a journey to the nearly 10-year-old legal history of the Pechstein Saga. She explored the intersection between human rights and sports arbitration and in particular, the right to a public hearing  in sports cases and explained how the European Court of Human Rights’ judgment in the case has made public hearings at the CAS inevitable now. She closed the topic by shining a light on match-fixing. She argued that sports governing bodies have been so concerned with doping that match-fixing has not been sufficiently addressed. Much like how anti-doping rules have been significantly developed over time, anti-match-fixing laws also need to be made far more robust. The fascinating lecture was brought to an end by looking forward into the future of sports disputes resolution in the era of digitalisation. Ms Hamama concluded that online dispute resolution can be used for resolving sports disputes by illustrating the example of the use of online dispute resolution by the Basketball Arbitral Tribunal.

The intensive but rewarding lecture facilitated discussions and exchanges over sports law and gave the students an opportunity to engage with the two distinguished speakers who were able to share their wealth of experience and knowledge on the subject.


Arpit Kumar Mallick, IDR LL.M. Candidate