The Faculty of Law and Political Science (FLPS), in collaboration with the SADER Foundation, held a workshop titled, “Sports Law Platform Workshop,” at Notre Dame University-Louaize’s (NDU) Friends Hall. Representing SADER was the director of the organization, Attorney Rany Sader, with the guests of honor, Attorneys Rosalia Ortega Pradillo, Jim Sturman, and Ralph Charbel. FLPS Dean, Dr. Dany Samaha, gave the opening address, followed by a speech from NDU President, Fr. Bechara Khoury. The event was moderated by the Director of Affairs and Protocol, Mr. Majed Bou Hadir. Additionally present were Vice Presidents, Deans, faculty members, staff, students, and legal figures.
The gathering took place in preparation for the launch of the Middle East Sports Law Platform, the first in the region and the first trilingual one of its kind worldwide, accommodating Arabic, English, and French speakers. The Platform is a response to the rise of sports decisions rendered by judicial and arbitral tribunals in mainstream media and the lack of defined legislation therein. Given that sports law is a young legal area, with a limited number of practicing sports law professionals, such legislation and subsequent implementation remain undetermined in the Middle East.
Samaha introduced the international speakers Pradillo and Sturman in his opening word, the former being a sports law attorney in Spain, and the latter a criminal lawyer holding the title of King’s Counsel (KC) in the UK, as well as Lebanese sports lawyer Charbel. In addition, Samaha underlined the importance of the round table discussion between the attorneys on the issue of sports legislation.
The Father President thanked the efforts of the Faculty and SADER in promoting the Platform, citing an unfortunate lack of sportsmanship among younger generations, where they should instead be embodying the values and virtues instilled by sports: teamwork, discipline, and physical well-being. Fr. Khoury said of the attorneys at the event: “Their presence on our campus today is a testament to the importance of interdisciplinary learning and the value of bringing together professionals from different fields to share their expertise.” By gathering for the discussion and workshop, “we foster awareness and intellectual exchange, thereby creating an environment that encourages innovation, creativity, and the pursuit of knowledge.”
Sader moderated the discussion, providing context for how the Middle East Platform emerged as a project: “Sports law resulted from the industrial complex of sports in Lebanon and its weaknesses.” The guests were thus invited to give a background on how sports law has developed over their careers, how legislation is implemented, and what a platform such as SADER’s can contribute.
Pradillo entered the niche because it combined her passion for both sports and law. Over the past two decades of her career, she witnessed the development and expansion of the field in Spain and the subsequent changes on a legal level. Sturman, on the other hand, is a criminal lawyer and explained that sports law is not yet a legal field of specialization in the UK. However, though there is no codified laws regarding sports, this is largely attributable to the fact that illicit, illegal, and/or criminal activity in athletics is dealt with as any other case. In Lebanon, Charbel’s experience as a sports attorney began with his involvement as a sports journalist and commentator, prior to entering the legal field.
The lack of codification is a central issue in sports law, with Sader pointing out the ambiguity this presents on a legal level: if there is no codification for sports law, and instead issues are approached according to the bylaws of individual federations, this results in a lack of unity in the area. Pradillo commented that the necessity for codification largely depends on the efficacy of the legal system as a whole, giving the example of Spain, which codified sports law in 1995 and includes penalties and taxes among other legal actions. The reason for this codification, according to Pradillo, is to ensure legal action with precise processes and definitions, working in tandem with public law and federation bylaws.
Sturman similarly referenced the functionality of the justice system of a country in whether or not codification becomes necessary. He asserted that legal proceedings must be fair irrespective of federation bylaws, though this might be an obstacle in taking cases to public court. Nevertheless, his experience has shown that the UK’s justice system is not in need of codification, and the matter should be taken instead on a country-by-country basis.
Charbel, in contrast, advocated for sports law codification in Lebanon and the Arab world, as whatever legislation is currently present is vague, making legal action difficult to take on. He explained that in the case of Lebanon, private laws of clubs could dictate that a club is an independent entity, and thus certain laws may not be able to lead to legal action. Instead, Charbel offered, a balance of maintaining the integrity of public law while considering bylaws of clubs in Lebanon must be undertaken.
The Platform is thus a step towards increasing the awareness of existing sports law in the Middle East, as well as updating its users on the latest news regarding legal cases and changes to legislation. The Platform additionally provides full access to various existing sporting regulations for national and international federations, decisions rendered by judicial and arbitral tribunals worldwide, and data and publications written by experts in the field.
The purpose of the Middle East Sports Law Platform is thus to increase awareness of sports legislation among fans and potentially implement the changes necessary to define not only sports law legislation, but the specific legal processes to be implemented. All these efforts are oriented towards decreasing corruption in individual sports clubs and federations, as well as ensuring that justice is being sought on all levels.