As Christmas approaches, the past fortnight has been particularly busy for the world of sport.
As Premier League and EFL clubs choose to host festive fixtures despite continued disruption from COVID-19, this latest Sports Ticker for 2021 features the controversial final of the F1 season, the launch of the NFT of World Rugby and the formation of the Women’s Rugby Association. We’re also looking at a potential legal loophole on pitch invaders in women’s football, diplomatic boycotts of the 2022 Winter Olympics, as well as Arctos Sports’ private equity investment in the NHL.
As always, if there are any issues you would like more information on (or if you have any questions or comments), please let us know or contact your usual contact at RPC. The RPC Sports group wishes you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Mercedes curbs appeal for controversial season finale
The F1 season ended in drama in Abu Dhabi, as Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen snatched the win from Mercedes AMG Petronas’ Lewis Hamilton on the final lap. The two drivers were tied on points before the race for the winner. However, the result was marred by the controversy surrounding the decisions of race director Michael Masi, particularly regarding Masi’s compliance with the FIA Sporting Regulations. Despite Mercedes’ frustrations with the outcome of the race and the stewards’ subsequent decision to dismiss Mercedes’ protests, the Hamilton team ultimately decided not to appeal to the FIA International Court of Appeal. . This was apparently, in large part, the result of the governing body’s promise to conduct a detailed analysis of events and undertake a review. It was especially interesting to see how well equipped Mercedes was for a possible dispute, having flown a sports QC – which was ultimately necessary in the most pressurized environments.
Creation of a new women’s rugby association
The first women’s rugby union was formed to support the players of the Allianz Premier 15s. An apparent catalyst for the new association was Wales and Bristol flanker Alisha Butchers, who had to fund an operation to repair damage to ankle ligaments earlier this year. The Women’s Rugby Association (WRA) was formed with the stated purpose of providing a collective voice and support for Premier 15s players. In supporting players, the WRA intends to offer advice in negotiating player contracts and trade deals, and will advocate for the implementation of increased and consistent medical and social arrangements across the league. Co-founder of the association, former England full-back and World Cup winner Danielle “Nolli” Waterman has been appointed CEO, which will also be governed by a players’ council made up of one player from each Premier club. 15s.
Technicality allows pitch invaders to avoid repercussions
Chelsea’s Women’s Champions League game against Juventus took an unsightly turn as a spectator invaded the pitch in stoppage time. The pitch invader, who wandered the pitch trying to take selfies with players, was knocked to the ground by Chelsea star Sam Kerr. While Kerr was subsequently booked, the incident exposed what appears to be a worrying loophole in the law, which left the Chelsea invader without penalty under current law (the spectator was suspended by the club ). Under Section 4 of the Football (Offenses) Act 1991, it is an offense punishable by arrest if a fan enters the playing area in addition to a fine of up to 1 £ 000. However, the law only applies to “designated matches” – the definition of which, surprisingly, still does not include any women’s matches. A group of MPs, including Tracey Crouch, subsequently wrote to the Under Secretary of State for Sports in an attempt to fill in the gaps.
World Rugby attempts to launch the NFT
Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are obviously on everyone’s lips as 2022 approaches, and World Rugby has not wanted to miss the mark – by announcing a “request for information process” for interested parties to join its Digital Collectibles initiative and co-develop NFT. Collectibles and digital experiences will be supported by the blockchain network and prospectively allow existing and new fans to purchase collectibles, fan tokens, collectible cards and selected moments from the Men’s and Women’s World Cups. . The initiative aims to try and cultivate a more digital native fan base, expanding the sport of rugby beyond its more traditional fan base and enabling fans to participate and stake their property in digital assets. unique.
Diplomatic boycotts of the 2022 Winter Olympics
The Beijing Winter Olympics are fast approaching; However, the games are already facing far-reaching challenges – with many major countries announcing diplomatic boycotts. The UK and Canada recently announced that they will join the boycott, which was launched by the US and Australia last week, apparently over alleged human rights issues involving the Uyghur population of China. . This means that diplomatic representatives from boycotting countries will not be present, but does not prevent athletes from competing for their respective nations. Olympic boycotts are also fueling the sport’s fire, with the Women’s Tennis Association also suspending all tournaments in China over concerns over the safety of Peng Shuai, who has made allegations of sexual abuse by Chinese political leaders.
… And finally, private equity investing in sport has been a constant theme in 2021. We featured private equity investments in IPL (symbol 50), professional tennis (symbol 40) and the Six Nations (symbol 34). The NHL appears to be the latest professional sports association to host private equity investments with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Minnesota Wild reportedly selling minority stakes to Arctos Sports Partners. The NFL is the only major men’s professional sports competition in the United States without institutional ownership provisions, with the NBA, MLB, and MLS changing all of their ownership rules to allow for such an investment. Could 2022 be the year…?