An interview with Christophoros Florou regarding Sports Law
1. Sports law is broadly used as term that includes different aspects of law. How will you describe this field and what kind of legal services does it comprise?
Sports are a significant part of our lives, contributing to our entertainment, health and relaxation from the intense and onerous pace of everyday routine. Moreover, it promotes social interaction and strengthens relationships, thus enhancing team spirit and cooperative skills.
However, the rapid commercialisation and dissemination of sports among citizens and in particular, professional sport requires the involvement of law in situations where disputes arise between the parties, namely between athletes or between clubs. The world of sports, in an effort to address the problems arising in the sport society, has established rules regulating and governing sport activities and events both at an individual, collective and national level. Therefore the legal services that the term of Sport law comprise are, inter allia, the preparation and inspection of legal records regarding the sport activities of the sport stakeholders, such as professional agreements for the employment of professional athletes, transfer agreements and/ or rights agreements. Furthermore, the representation of the sport people or Clubs in front of the relevant sports’ judicial authorities for any dispute, constitutes another legal service that provided by the Sport Lawyers within the term of sport law.
2. What are the legal and commercial issues in the sports sector that can arise?
The legal and commercial issues in the sport sector can arise are related to any commercial business in our days. Because of the rapid commercialisation and dissemination of sports may arise legal issues such as employment disputes between the athletes and their Clubs or disputes between the Clubs in relation to the transfer of a player from one Club to another. Also there are legal issues between the sport world and the commercial people who make business within the sport world such as advertising and sponsorship aspects. Furthermore, there are a lot of disciplinary issues concerning the athletes and the clubs, which may arise after the breach of disciplinary regulations of a National or an International Association. For example a very usual legal issue is the doping subjects in relation to the athletes.
3. How vast is the demand of athletes and sport teams in Cyprus to consult a lawyer for the various matters that occurs such as IP rights, contracts etc?
I believe that in our days is essential for a sport person or sport team in Cyprus to consult a Sport Lawyer for its every day transaction, since the sport level in Cyprus has been upgraded during the last years and this is mean that the commercialisation and dissemination of sports in Cyprus has been developed as well. Therefore, the sport world of Cyprus deals with huge transactions every day with entities in Cyprus or from other countries and this mean that they have to be legally protected in the context sport. This why I use the term of Sport Lawyer than the term of a Lawyer since the word of sports deals with more sensitive legal aspects.
4. How would you characterize the sport industry in Cyprus? Is the government offering the support and funds Cyprus’ athletes need?
The sport industry in Cyprus is rapid commercialize and develop in many fields of sport, but in particular the football industry. This is proved by the development of many football academies which are working in more professional manner and are connected with well recognised football Clubs from Europe. I believe that there are efforts made by the relevant sport authority and the athlete associations of the island in order to improve the sports industry; however the Government’s support to the athlete people of Cyprus is still insufficient.
5. From which sport field do you mostly receive cases and which sports are less keen in consulting a lawyer for their interests?
As I have said above the football industry is the most commercialised and dissemination sport in our days. Therefore, there is the demand for legal consulting in relation to the daily transactions between the Clubs, the Players and in general between the football stakeholders. Because of the commercialization of the football industry. It has as a result the arising of disputes between the football stakeholders and therefore, we mostly receive cases from the football industry in order to represent them in from the national or international judicial bodies, such as the FIFA Dispute Resolution Chamber and the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS).
6. Sports law is at a crossroad of other industries such as iGaming, gambling and other eSports. What are the main differences in dealing with real Sports and eSports matters and how is the rapid development of new technology and digital media affecting the sports industry?
The main differences in dealing with real Sports and eSports matters is that in the first case we are dealing with the real sports people’s legal issues which may affect them personally, such as labour issues or injuries that may affect their whole sport career and this make more sensitive the Sport’s lawyers’ approach into this case. On the second case we are dealing with e-sport people, such as e-players, which in reality they do not affected directly but they are only affected in commercial manner.
The rapid development of new technology and digital media and in particular of the e-sport world affects positive the sports industry since it is based on the real sport stakeholders, such as athletes, Clubs etc and this mean that there is a huge advertise of the sport people and also there are financial benefits to the sport industry, such as sponsorship and the rights of use, which contribute to the development and the improvement of the sports. The e-sport industry starts to develop in Cyprus as well, but it is still at beginning levels.