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New Amendments to FIFA RSTP Regulations

Shumaker is pleased to share this FIFA news from our colleagues at Globaladvocaten.

maracana-stadium-brazilBased on a cooperation agreement executed between FIFA and FIFPro (the World Players’ Union), in autumn 2017, FIFA amended its Regulations on the Status and Transfer of players, which has had a substantial impact on contractual relationships between clubs and (professional) football players.

Among the improvements agreed upon were several changes regarding dispute resolution between players and clubs, particularly for decisions in cases of overdue payables, as well as new provisions to avoid the abusive conduct of parties, such as players being forced to train alone.

As a consequence, the amended FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players, effective as of 1 June 2018, include a provision that the abusive conduct of a party forcing the other to terminate a contract or amend its terms entitles the other party to terminate the contract with “just cause” (art. 14(2)). This article should tackle the practice of clubs marginalizing players, forcing them to train alone and using otherwise unsavory methods to force players to accept contractual terminations or pay cuts, although a player might be guilty of abusive conduct as well.

Read the rest of this article on Globaladvocaten’s website found here.


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Best Practices for Combating Student Athlete Mental Health Concerns

Young man resting on the stairs after runningOver the last few years, the mental health of athletes in general has become a national conversation with several star players like the NBA’s Kevin Love and DeMar DeRozan speaking out on the subject.[1] It is an issue that is being recognized not just in professional sports, but at the collegiate level.  This prompts the question:  what are universities doing to combat the unique risk of mental health problems that a college atmosphere can create?

In 2016, the NCAA released a document titled “Mental Health Best Practices” in response to these growing concerns.[2] In it, the NCAA outlines what they call, “[F]our key components for understanding and supporting student-athlete mental wellness on the college campus.” These four components include:

  1. Clinical licensure of practitioners providing metal health care
  2. Procedures for identification and referral of student-athletes to qualified practitioners
  3. Pre-participation mental health screening
  4. Health-promoting environments that support mental well-being and resilience

While the promulgation of this document by the NCAA is a step in the right direction, the battle to improve student-athlete mental health is just beginning. For colleges and universities, there are several steps that can be taken to help ensure a successful athletic department both on and off the field.

To start with, schools can choose to implement these NCAA “Best Practices.” The “Best Practices” document is not a regulation that schools must follow—it is simply a guidance document for schools looking to improve student-athlete mental health. By implementing the four suggested practices, schools can show their commitment to the cause and demonstrate an effort to comply with the NCAA’s recommendations.

Second, schools can follow the lead of their students. Across the county, several of the most impactful student-athlete mental health initiatives have been started by the student-athletes themselves. For example, athletes at The University of Pennsylvania have been some of the loudest voices for mental health reform following the highly-publicized suicide of track and field athlete Madison Holleran in 2014.  Penn athletes have been continuously lobbying for full-time therapists to work in the Athletics Building—so far to no avail.[3]

Other student-athletes are working to squelch the stigma of mental health issues with campaigns of their own creation. In early 2018, an Oregon State soccer player started the #DamWorthIt campaign to encourage discussion of mental health issues in the student-athlete community.[4] Many other student-athlete run initiatives can be seen at campuses across the country.

Lastly, schools can implement other mental health screenings mid-season, in addition to the pre-participation screening suggested by the NCAA. Many of the pressures facing student-athletes do not mount until the season begins. Football physicals, for example, occur in the preseason months—long before the pressure of balancing sports and a college course load has manifested. The stress of an underperforming team or a lost position battle also will not manifest until after the season has begun. The implementation of a mid-season mental health screening would give athletic departments a more accurate picture of a student-athlete’s mental health, and in turn allow them to engage treatment options before it’s too late.

Colleges and Universities are no longer in a position to ignore mental health issues. Implementing a strong student athlete mental health program will allow schools to protect their players by providing them with the tools to create a positive college experience. The act of paying due attention to mental health issues could also potentially provide athletic programs with several fringe benefits, including a positive public perception, a potential recruiting tool, and maybe even a better team performance on the playing field.

For more information, please contact an attorney in our Title IX practice group.

This article was written by Katie Dwyer, law student at the University of Tennessee College of Law, with contributions from Dana Drew Shaw. 


[1] Kevin Love, Everyone Is Going Through Something, The Players’ Tribune (Mar. 6, 2018), https://www.theplayerstribune.com/en-us/articles/kevin-love-everyone-is-going-through-something; Tom Schad, Raptors’ DeMar DeRozan details struggles with depression, anxiety, USA Today (Feb. 26, 2018), https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nba/raptors/2018/02/26/raptors-demar-derozan-details-struggles-depression-anxiety/372543002/.
[2] NCAA Sport Science Institute, Mental Health Best Practices (2016), https://www.ncaa.org/sites/default/files/HS_Mental-Health-Best-Practices_20160317.pdf.
[3] Amy Liu, How Madison Holleran’s death has shaped discussions around mental health in Ivy League athletics, The Daily Pennsylvanian (Apr. 24, 2018, 2:54 PM), http://www.thedp.com/article/2018/04/madison-holleran-impact-higher-education-mental-health-penn-upenn-philadelphia.
[4] Lindsay Schnell, Oregan State athletes launch mental health initiative to help students with depression, USA Today (Jan. 19, 2018, 11:18 AM), https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/ncaab/pac12/2018/01/19/oregon-state-athletes-launch-mental-health-initiative-depression-damworthit/1047901001/.
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Handicapping Christie v. NCAA: How will the Supreme Court Vote on PASPA?


The briefing is complete and the oral argument is over in Christie v. NCAA. All that remains is for the Supreme Court to decide the case. How will the Court decide? Will New Jersey blow up the PASPA dam and send regulated sports betting gushing throughout the land? Or will the sports organizations maintain their right to decide how a controlled release of regulated sports betting should occur? Here is my handicapping of how each Justice may vote. But before we look at each Justice individually, there are three meta-aspects of this case that should be considered in handicapping the vote. Continue Reading »

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Reform the Federal Sports Betting Excise Tax “Dilemma”


Now that Congress has passed a budget resolution that sets the stage for fast-track tax reform, here is one tax that clearly should be included in any reform package:

The excise tax on sports betting that is codified in sections 4401 and 4411 of the Internal Revenue Code.  See 26 U.S.C. §§ 4401 and 4411.

The excise tax on sports betting contributes nothing to the national treasury and was never intended to do so.  Rather, Congress included this excise tax in the Revenue Act of 1951 “to facilitate the enforcement of state criminal laws against gambling.”  Note, The Federal Gambling Tax and the Constitution, 43 J. of Crim. Law and Criminology 637, 637 (1953).  Continue Reading »

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Title IX Compliance: NCAA Adopts Sexual Violence Prevention Policy


In August, a formal sexual violence prevention policy was adopted by the NCAA Board of Governors. College coaches, student-athletes, and athletics administrators must now complete education each year in sexual violence prevention. As part of this new policy, the university president or chancellor, athletics director, and Title IX coordinator must attest annually that such education was provided. This also includes a declaration that: Continue Reading »

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Making Sense of College Coaching Contracts


“In addition to the growing financial commitments involved, negotiating college coaching contracts has become a far more complex procedure for both parties due to the non-standardized nature of each process and outcome. Unlike professional athletes and actors that collectively bargain for certain rights, every single coaching contract is a unique agreement unto-itself. Understanding the nuances of such contracts can allow for the creation of a sensible agreement that benefits and protects both sides, without making it a zero-sum game.”
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Supreme Court Finds Cheerleading Uniforms Copyrightable in Landmark Apparel Copyright Case

In the first apparel copyright case ever considered by the U.S. Supreme Court, Star Athletica, LLC v. Varsity Brands, Inc., the high court found on March 22, 2017 that decorative elements of a cheerleading uniform could be protected by copyright law.

Varsity Brands Inc., the country’s largest cheerleading supplier, sued Star Athletica LLC, an upstart rival, claiming that Star Athletica has used several two-dimensional design elements, such as stripes and chevron patterns, in which Varsity claimed copyright protection.

Apparel has typically been beyond the scope of the Copyright Act because it does not protect functional items. However, certain aspects of apparel may be protectable if they are either physically or conceptually separable from the functional aspect of the apparel.  Specifically, the Copyright Act provides protection to these certain aspects of a design “only if, and only to the extent that, such design incorporates pictorial, graphic, or sculptural features that can be identified separately from, and are capable of existing independently of, the utilitarian aspect of the article.”  17 U.S.C. § 101. Continue Reading »