As you are well aware, the sports industry is vast in scope and diverse in nature and generates billions of naira annually. Stakeholders include athletes, other players, coaches, referees and officials; leagues; governing bodies of the sports industry; athletics administrators; educational institutions; and sports facility owners and operators; more broadly it stretches to also include sports broadcasters; sports equipment manufacturers; sports medicine care providers; businesses that sponsor athletic events or athletes; and concessionaires who serve food and drink to spectators at games as well as the spectators themselves.
All these stakeholders require one form of service or the other which a legal practitioner is most suited to provide.
Sadly there is no coherent and properly articulated platform for the engagement of lawyers to provide these services, consequently many of these stakeholders went with non-lawyer agents when they could have had the benefit of the extra knowledge, sophistication and standard of professional ethics of lawyers who practiced sports law.
Enter the Sports Lawyers Association
The Sports Lawyers Association of Nigeria (SLAN) was established in February 2013 by a couple of athletes, sportsmen and women, sports administrators and enthusiast who happened to be Lawyers.
The Association has recently taken a more formal shape (incorporated at the Corporate Affairs Commission 2016) and is made up of professionals involved in Sports Law activities, with a membership consisting of legal practitioners, sports administrators and athletes, law teachers and law students across the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The principal objective of the Association is to challenge and inspire legal practitioners to create and expand practice opportunities in the field of sports and recreation.
Further objectives include:-
I. providing educational opportunities and disseminating data and information regarding specific areas of sports law;
II. creating a forum for practitioners representing athletes, teams, leagues, civic recreational programs, educational institutions, and other organizations involved in professional and amateur sports;
III. fostering the discussion of legal problems affecting sports law and promoting the exchange of a variety of perspectives and positions;
IV. Getting practitioners informed on the legal principles and transactional aspects of sports law;
V. to foster excellence in the practice of law in these fields.
VISION: To create, educate and enhance interest in legal issues in sport.
MISSION: To advance the practice of sports law and foster excellence in service delivery while expanding practice opportunities for members.
LONG TERM STRATEGIC GOALS:
1. Foster developments that further the recognition of sports law as a legitimate area of academic study and legal practice.
2. Be recognised and recommended as the organisation of choice for legal issues in the sports industry (by all stakeholders including government, sports administrators; athletes, academics, students and higher institutions).
3. Design and Establish a system for the efficient resolution of sports disputes.
TWO (2) YEAR STRATEGIC PLANS
At the side-lines of the 2016 Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association in Port-Harcourt members present considered and adopted the Strategic Plan as follows:-
The plan set out the following objectives for the next 2 years ending December 2018.
Objective 1: Networking and Information:-
Formalise and provide members with quality annual conference and channel relevant information to members through:-
a) A Quarterly Journal;
b) Regular email newsletters;
c) Design and host a website and
d) Maintain online engagement with members vide the social media.
Objective 2: Events:-
Organise and or support a minimum of four (4) sports law sessions, forums and networking functions every year whether originated by the Association or Members
Objective 3: Stakeholder Engagement:-
Maintain a presence and create value through enhancing understanding and awareness of legal issues in sport by engaging: a) Government ; b) the Media, CSOs with interest in Sports and c) students and academics;
Objective 4: Affiliations with leading international sports law organisations:- Facilitate affiliations with leading international organisations involved in sports law including:
a) international and national sports law associations; and
b) universities throughout the world which offer sports law programs; and foster increased:
c) opportunities for members to attend or be involved in international conferences and contribute to publications;
d) interaction between members and other national or international sports law associations;
e) opportunities for exchange of information between the Association and international or overseas organisations and between members of each; and
f) international membership and recognition of the Association.
Objective 5: Establishment of a Sports Tribunal
Endeavour to establish an Independent Sports Tribunal to enhance fair and efficient resolution of sports dispute first in Nigeria and then the African Continent.
Objective 6: Increasing SLA’s profile:-
Increase SLA’s internal, national and international profile using new and traditional media.
Objective 7: Develop a Membership Certification Program
Design and develop a post graduate level sports and recreation law curriculum to increase the proficiency and skills of members culminating in a professional certification. Certified Sports Law Professional (CSLP).
The Formal Structure
The Sports Lawyers Association is registered at the Corporate Affairs Commission with an Incorporated Trustees comprising the Following Trustees:-
1. Austel Elumelu Esq
2. Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN)
3. Babatunde Fashola (SAN)
4. Abdulhakeem Mustapha (SAN)
5. Onyenkachi Okezie Esq.
6. Okey Obi Esq.
7. Emeka Obegolu Esq.
8. Okwubanego Fabian Ekene Esq.
9. Agabaidu Jideani Chukwuemeka Esq
10. Folarin Aluko Esq.
The membership of the SPORTS LAWYERS ASSOCIATION is open to all legal practitioners (properly licensed to practice in the Jurisdiction where s/he resides) who are interested in and committed to the goals of the Association and who is adjudged by the Trustees to be a fit and proper Practitioner.
There is an associate membership for law students (irrespective of where they are studying law)
An intending member shall signify her intention to join the Association by filing her name, address, other particulars and paying the requisite fees as may be required in the register to be maintained at the Association’s offices.
What is Sports Law?
Sports law refers to a specialized practice focused on legal issues pertaining to the sports industry. Generally it refers more to the target industry rather than a separate body of law, though there are a few unique legal issues only faced by the stakeholders in the sports industry. Common sports law issues include labour law, contract issues, unfair competition and antitrust law, and torts.