Sport and the Law

How does the Law relate to Sport?

Sport is seen by the law as a special area whereby the law and legal systems does not directly interfere with the specific rules in relation to that particular sport.

For example the laws of the game – the rules by which a particular sport is played is not an arena where laws or legal systems will interfere.

The Structure of Sport

The International Governing Body of a particular sport will be the regulator which develops the laws of the game of that sport. These will then be expected to be regulated in the various countries by the National Governing Bodies who regulate the various clubs which play in that particular country.

The International Governing Body will decide on any changes in the rules of how the actual sport will be played, any laws in relation to such things as the movement of players and in some cases disciplinary sanctions whereby they see fit.

If we take the example of English football, the International Governing Body and worldwide regulator is the Federation International de Football Association (FIFA), below FIFA will be the continental confederation which is responsible for the regulation of European Football, UEFA, below UEFA will be the Football Association (FA) which is responsible for the regulation of football in England, below the FA will be the regional Football Associations and the clubs which participate in England – both amateur and professional.

European Model of Sport

This pyramid structure is called the European Model of Sport and is mirrored across many different sports throughout Europe.

Another common feature of the European Model of Sport is the league system which is seen in football in England. The professional game is made up of 4 leagues which operate a system of promotion and relegation through them enabling all teams the potential to play in all of the leagues.

The North American model of Sport

The North American model of Sport is much different to the European Model of Sport as each of the sports are overseen by one main regulator and the leagues are made up of geographical divisions with no possibility of promotion or relegation.

Government Involvement in Sport

Are there any Government bodies which have an involvement in sport?

Despite sport being a separate institute from the Government in the UK there are various Governmental Bodies which have an involvement in Sport within England and Wales.

For example, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) work alongside such governmental agencies as UK Sport and Sport England to decide various policies in relation to sport in the UK and England.

These policies are in relation to such areas as the following:

  • National Curriculum Physical Education Requirements
  • UK Sports Policy
  • Distribution of National Lottery Funding

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For more information on:

  • Are there times when the law does get involved with Sport?
  • Rights of Participants
  • Commercial decisions
  • The Safety of Spectators