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The Sports Lawyer: ‘Serie A has had enough headaches with crowd trouble and fixing. The last thing it needed was a strike’

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THE SPORTS LAWYER is actually a posse of Britain’s brightest lawyers, from the Sport & Media team at the UK law firm, Thomas Eggar, who will be contributing features, analysis and insight on a regular basis on the key sports law issues of the day. In TSL’s latest column, Andrew Nixon discusses the International Olympic Committee’s ban lift on Ghana and the temporary collective contract for Serie A players.

 

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By Andrew Nixon

9 September 2011

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has lifted a ban on Ghana which looked likely to prevent the nation competing in London 2012.

The ban was put in place because the IOC had reason to believe the Ghanaian government had become involved in the running of the Ghana Olympic Committee (GOC), and there was evidence of the government forcing through appointments within national sports federations. One such issue arose with the election of former triple jumper Francis DoDoo to the role of GOC president. It was alleged by Benson Tongo Baba, the former president, that the government had interfered with the elections to force Mr DoDoo’s presidency through.

The reason the suspension has been lifted is down to the passing of a new sports bill by the Ghanaian Parliament, which was designed to prevent government interference in the running of sport. The IOC appears to be satisfied that sufficient parliamentary measures are now in place.

Comment

The right to compete in the Olympic Games means a lot to the majority of nations, and that parliament passed a new sports bill to fall into line with the Olympic Charter illustrates the power the IOC can have over governments just through threat of not being able to compete in the Games. Compatibility with the Olympic Charter is a prerequisite of any nation’s entitlement to be part of the Games, and the IOC is not afraid to adopt a robust approach if it believes the Charter is being undermined.


Serie A strike called off

The Italian Players’ Association and the League have signed a temporary collective contract which has cleared the way for the season to commence. Collective contracts usually last for three years; however, this agreement will expire in June 2012.

Crucially, the agreement is contingent upon reaching a resolution on the issue of the rights of players to train with the first team squad. The clubs want the clause to state that they can compel players who are not part of the team’s plans to train away from the first team, or in the alternative accept a transfer.

The other major issue related to a new solidarity tax in Italy that would have applied to high wage earners, such as Serie A players. This was part of the Italian government’s austerity package; however, this issue has now been eradicated.

Comment

The conflict between the players and the League has been ongoing since June 2010, when the last collect contract agreement expired. Last minute agreements avoided two potential strike dates last season, and the temporary collective contract has at least held matters over until the end of next season.

It is to be hoped that a long term resolution can be reached. Italian football and Serie A has suffered numerous set backs in recent years, including crowd trouble and allegations of match fixing. The League’s slide down the list of European leagues was reflected in this summer’s Deloitte report. The last thing it needs is more strike action.

Andrew Nixon is an Associate in the Sport and Media Group at Thomas Eggar.

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