Centre for Sports Law Research


Centre for Sports Law ResearchIntroduction

The Centre for Sports Law Research is engaged in funded consultancy for both public and private bodies on issues relevant to the legal regulation of sport. The Centre has a particular focus on the intersection between sport and European law, but is also engaged with questions on both global and national levels.

Centre staff have produced reports and expert advice for a number of bodies, including the European Parliament, the European Commission and the House of Lords. Centre staff regularly give papers at professional and academic events worldwide.

The Centre welcomes proposals for collaborative ventures.


Full-time members

The Director of the CSLR is Professor Richard Parrish, Jean Monnet Chair of EU Sports Law and Policy. Co-ordinating CSLR activities is Adam Pendlebury with other full-time members being Dr Andrea Cattaneo and Dr Leanne O’Leary who is a member of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) panel of arbitrators.

Practitioner Members

We are delighted to have worked with some of the most notable sports law practitioners in the UK and abroad. Currently, we work with Steven Flynn, Barrister at Kings Chambers Manchester, Nick Harrison, Barrister at 18 St John Street Chambers Manchester, Gareth Farrelly, Solicitor at Bermans and CAS arbitrator, and James Pearson, member of the renowned Brabners sports law team.

Academic Members

Our Centre regularly collaborates with universities from across Europe. We are delighted that two leading academics are members of the CSLR. Professor Carmen Perez Gonzalez from the University Carlos III (Madrid) and Professor Vanja Smokvina from the Faculty of Law, University of Rijeka are long standing collaborators with us.

Alumni Members

A number of our former students have gone on to work in the sports industry. Gareth Farrelly (LLB) is a solicitor at Bermans, member of the Football Association’s Regulatory Commission and a CAS arbitrator. James Pearson (LLB) is a solicitor working within the Brabners sports law team. Dr Alexandre Mestre (PhD) is a sports lawyer in Lisbon and former Secretary of State for Sport in the Portuguese Government. Dr Roberto Branco Martins (PhD) is a sports lawyer in the Netherlands and General Counsel for the European Football Agents Association. Dr Andrea Cattaneo (PhD) is an academic at Edge Hill University. Dr Peter Coenen (PhD) worked at the University of Maastricht.


The Centre is engaged in funded external consultancy within its fields of expertise, and has a number of international partners with which projects requiring external expertise can be completed. To discuss a proposal and costings, please contact the Director, Professor Richard Parrish.

The Centre has undertaken the following consultancy activities:

Research in Action

The Centre for Sports Law Research at Edge Hill University has been at the forefront of developments shaping the content and direction of EU sports law and policy and influencing standards in international sports governance. Below are a selection of some of our activities.

Influencing International Sports Governance

Dr O’Leary is a specialist in international sports governance and labour relations in sport. Her monograph, ‘Employment and Labour Relations Law in the Premier League, NBA and International Rugby Union’, was published by Springer in 2017. Her expertise means that Dr O’Leary is in high demand from sports bodies wanting to adopt the highest standards of governance in their sport.

Dr O’Leary has conducted a review of disciplinary procedures for an international sports federation. The review led to the sport implementing a new disciplinary procedure to secure the independence and impartiality of its judicial function. Dr O’Leary has also developed a constitutional guidance document which has helped shape standards within the member national associations and the regional federations. She has also facilitated workshops on integrity matters for the international federation.

Dr Cattaneo has presided over a dispute as mediator for the Amateur Swimming Association. Dr O’Leary sits on England Boxing’s Safeguarding Review Panel, British Canoeing’s Disciplinary, Disputes and Appeals Panel and the Premier League Judicial Panel. Dr O’Leary is a Member of Sport Resolutions (UK)’s Panel of Specialist Arbitrators and in 2019 was nominated by FIFPro, the international football players union, to sit as an arbitrator at the Court fo Arbitration for Sport (CAS), an organisation known as the supreme court of global sport. Dr O’Leary is also a member of the World Athletics Vetting Panel and sits on the Governance Committee for the International Netball Federation. Through these roles, Dr O’Leary adjudicates disputes in sport and assists to shape standards of governance in national and international sport.

If you would like to learn more about this topic, please contact Dr Leanne O’Leary.

Shaping EU Sports Policy

For most of the history of the EU, sport did not feature in the EU Treaties. Some sports governing bodies argued that this disadvantaged sport because EU internal markets laws were being applied to sport without any counterbalancing force in the Treaties recognising the ‘specificity of sport’. The infamous Bosman ruling of the European Court is often highlighted as an example of this insensitive application.

The entry into force of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) in December 2009 changed the constitutional landscape for sport. The new Article 165 granted the EU the power to develop a sports policy, and crucially for the sports governing bodies, Article 165 made reference to the ‘specific nature of sport’.

The development and implementation of the EU’s post Article 165 sports policy has been substantially influenced by Professor Richard Parrish, the Director of Edge Hill’s Centre for Sports Law Research. Professor Parrish provided advice and expert testimony to key policymakers: he sat on the European Commission’s Group of Independent Sports Experts (2010), he acted as Special Advisor to the UK House of Lords Inquiry into Grassroots Sport and the European Union (2011) and he co-authored the European Parliament Study The Lisbon Treaty and EU Sports Policy (2010), a study he presented to a European Parliament session in Brussels.

In 2016 Professor Parrish completed a nine month term on the European Commission’s High Level Group on Sports Diplomacy. The group, chaired by former Hungary President, Pál Schmitt, examined how sport can contribute to the delivery of the EU’s external relations agenda. Following the publication of the group’s report, the Council adopted sport diplomacy as a new EU priority in the 2017-2020 EU Work Plan for Sport. He followed this up by securing an EU grant to explore how the EU can act more strategically in the area of EU sports diplomacy.

Professor Parrish has spoken at numerous EU events including successive EU Sports Forums, European Commission seminars and advising EU Sports Directors on EU sports policy during the Austrian Presidency of the Council of the EU (2018).

If you would like to learn more about this topic, please contact Professor Richard Parrish.

Informing the Regulation of Football Agents

The CSLR has long been associated with informing debates on the regulation of football agents. In 2007, Professor Parrish co-authored the first book exploring the regulation of football agents worldwide. Since then, he has been active in helping the European Commission set its approach to the issue of agent regulation. In 2010, he was appointed by European Commissioner Vassiliou to a Group of Independent European Sports Experts to advise the Commission on priorities in the field of sport prior to the adoption of the EU’s Communication on Sport in 2011. The Communication endorsed the findings of the expert group and prioritised, inter alia, “the promotion of good governance in sport” and “transfer rules and the activities of agents”. As one of the follow-up initiatives, on the invitation of the European Commission, Professor Parrish chaired a meeting of sports stakeholders at the European Sport Forum in Malta in 2017 to discuss the regulation of sports agents.

In 2018, Professor Parrish and Dr Cattaneo secured a grant under the EU’s Erasmus+ Programme to investigate this new system and make recommendations on how to promote higher standards of good governance in the European football agents industry. The project was led by the CSLR with partners coming from the Universidad Carlos III Madrid, the German Sport University Cologne, the University of Umeå in Sweden and the University of Rijeka in Croatia.

As part of the project, a number of stakeholder workshops were staged across Europe and the views of the key actors, including agents, clubs, players, leagues and governing bodies, were canvassed. The Final Report, published in late 2019, addressed a number of issues including a return to a licensing system supported by a system of ongoing professional education for agents, limiting who an agent can represent and placing limits on what an agent can earn. FIFA accepted many of our recommendations are in currently in the process of implementing a reformed system of agent regulation.

If you would like to learn more about this topic, please contact Professor Richard Parrish.

Promoting a Strategic Approach to EU Sports Diplomacy

Throughout 2019 and 2020, Dr Cattaneo and Professor Richard Parrish led an EU funded study into how the EU can act more strategically in the area of EU sports diplomacy. This is a new policy area for the EU and one substantially influenced by the CSLR. In 2016 Professor Parrish completed a nine month term on the European Commission’s High Level Group on Sports Diplomacy. The group, chaired by former Hungary President, Pál Schmitt, examined how sport can contribute to the delivery of the EU’s external relations agenda. Following the publication of the group’s report, the Council adopted sports diplomacy as a new EU priority in the 2017-2020 EU Work Plan for Sport.

Sports diplomacy is now being increasingly employed by the EU in its relations with third states. For example, in November 2017, sport was integrated into the EU-China High Level People to People Dialogue (HPPD) which has been taking place since 2012. EU sports diplomacy took another concrete step in February 2018 with the agreement between the European Commission and UEFA adopting the Arrangement for Cooperation between the European Commission and the Union of the European Football Associations (UEFA).

Following recommendations made by the High-Level Group on Sport Diplomacy, amendments were made to the 2018 Erasmus+ funding criteria which facilitated participation from third countries. Changes were also made to the European Week of Sport programme permitting participation from Western Balkan and Eastern Partnership states. These developments show a willingness on the part of the EU to use sport to engage with non-EU states.

If you would like to learn more about this topic, please contact Dr Andrea Cattaneo.

Shaping Approaches to Nationality Discrimination in Sport

As part of the post-Lisbon sports agenda, the Commission funded two studies into nationality discrimination in sport. The first concerned discrimination against non-nationals in individual sporting competitions. Parrish co-authored the study as the high-level EU sports law expert. The study provided advice, inter alia, on the impact of Article 165 TFEU on the ability of sports bodies to discriminate against athletes on the grounds of their nationality. This was a European Commission priority project as outlined in its 2007 White Paper on Sport.

The second study stemmed from a commitment contained in the 2011 Communication on Sport, in which the Commission committed itself to ‘assess the consequences of rules on home-grown players in team sports in 2012’. Parrish co-authored the study as the high-level EU and sports law expert. The study was delivered to the Commission in December 2012 and was published in August 2013. Parrish delivered the findings of the study to the European Commission’s Technical Committee on Free Movement of Workers (11/04/2013).

The results of the studies have informed Commission policy in this field and improved dialogue between the Commission and sports stakeholders. In 2014, the European Commission requested that Spain take action to change its rules on the composition of basketball teams as the quota for locally trained players gave rise to indirect nationality discrimination, a finding suggested by the first study. The second study was cited three times by Advocate General of the European Court of Justice in the ground-breaking TopFit judgment of 2019 (Case C-22/18 TopFit e.V Daniele Biffi v Deutscher Leichtathletikverband e.V). The case involved discrimination in amateur athletics in sport. In its judgment, the Court of Justice broke new ground by adopting our recommendation that EU rules prohibiting nationality discrimination apply to amateur as well as professional sport.

Sports Law Insights

Sports Law Insights

The Two Faces of Sports Law

Co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union logoSports law is a fascinating and rapidly developing field of legal practice and academic inquiry. It is an area of law that presents two faces – a public and a private face.

The public face of sports law refers to the approach taken to sport by Government, Parliament and the Courts. The UK operates a non-interventionist sports model which implies an ‘arms-length’ role for the state in sport in which sports are organised by the sporting associations themselves rather than through state legislation. This model reflects the prevailing view in UK politics that sport is essentially a private pursuit to be organised and promoted by private interests. Nevertheless, the state has recognised that as sport performs some public and quasi-public functions, it should retain an interest in the sector, although this interest is generally elaborated through arm’s length / semi-governmental organisations such the Sports Councils. Consequently, in theory at least, sports bodies in the UK retain autonomy to determine their own organisational and regulatory choices free from state interference. In practice, these choices are restricted by statutory and judicial influences on sport most notably in the areas of:

The public face of sports law has been expanded by the increasing involvement of the European Union in sporting matters. In the 1974 Walrave judgment, the Court of Justice of the European Union stated that sport is subject to European Union law whenever it is practiced as an economic activity, although some sporting rules, such as rules restricting eligibility to represent a national team, were removed from EU oversight if they amounted to rules of purely sporting interest. The recent approach of the Court is to treat most sporting activity as falling within the scope of EU law, although the Court does recognise that certain sporting rules should be sympathetically treated, particularly within the scope of the Treaty provisions dealing with freedom of movement for workers and competition law. The ability of the European Court to recognise the special characteristics of sport when applying these Treaty provisions has been strengthened by the entry into force of Article 165 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) which calls upon the institutions of the EU to recognise the specific nature of sport. Although the relationship between UK sport and EU law is in a state of uncertainty following Brexit, the EU has been particularly influential in developing sports law in the areas of:

The private face of sports law refers to the rules and constitutions of sports governing bodies and the jurisprudence of the specialist sports tribunals and appeals bodies. In football, for example, FIFA rules establish the global parameters in which regional confederations, such as UEFA, and national associations, such as the English Football Association, devise their own set of regulations. At each level specialist sports tribunals operate to hear disputes arising from these regulations. These decisions, in some cases, can be appealed to the supreme court of sport – the Swiss based Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). The existence of these sports tribunals and CAS has led some commentators to argue that the public face of sports law should step aside to allow sport to develop its own legal system which is more cost effective and quicker than recourse to ordinary courts. This system of sporting justice, which is often referred to as the emerging lex sportiva, has substantially shaped a range of sporting rules including those related to commercial and disciplinary matters.

Jean Monnet Chair

Jean Monnet Chair

Co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European UnionIn 2016, Richard Parrish, Professor of Sports Law at Edge Hill University, was awarded the title of Jean Monnet Chair in EU Sports Law and Policy by the EU. Professor Parrish is the first Edge Hill academic to receive this accolade, which is named after one of the founding fathers of the European Union. The title is awarded by the EU following a worldwide call for applications. The Jean Monnet Chair is awarded to academics, policymakers, professionals and members of civil society who are active in the field of EU studies.

Throughout the duration of the award, running from 2016 to 2019, Professor Parrish has embarked on a programme of activities designed to advance awareness and understanding of EU sports law and policy.

EU Summer School

Due to the support from the Jean Monnet Chair scheme, Edge Hill University offers a free annual EU Sports Law and Policy Summer School which attracts attendees from across Europe and beyond. The Summer School is delivered by Professor Parrish with assistance from members of the Centre for Sports Law Research and leading academics and practitioners from across Europe. Materials from our Summer School can be found on our EU Summer School page.

In addition to the Summer School, students at Edge Hill have the opportunity to study two sports law modules, one in each semester of year three. Both modules extensively cover issues pertaining to EU sports law and policy including topics discussed on our Sports Law Insights page. In 2018, Professor Parrish edited a collection of essays to accompany the modules.

Research in Action

Professor Parrish has been researching EU sports law and policy for over 20 years. A list of his publications can be accessed at on Edge Hill’s institutional repository.

To mark the occasion of his Jean Monnet award, Professor Parrish co-edited an extensive volume of papers on EU sports law and policy with Professor Jack Anderson and Borja García. The Edward Elgar Research Handbook on EU Sports Law and Policy features essays from leading academics and practitioners from across Europe. The foreword is written by Yves le Lostecque, Head of the Sport Unit in the European Commission.


Throughout the duration of the award, Professor Parrish staged a number of events and provided expert advice at a number of high-profile EU events. Further details of these events can accessed at the Centre for Sports Law Research’s events page.

Professor Parrish has also used his position as Jean Monnet Chair to use evidence based research to inform decisions on EU sports law and policy at official EU level. For example, during the duration of the Jean Monnet award, he has spoken at the following official EU events:

• The European Model of Sport, EU Sport Directors meeting, Austrian Presidency of the Council of the EU, Vienna, 12/12/18.

• The European Model of Sport: How to define it, How to protect it? European Commission, Brussels, 18/09/18.

• The ISU case, EU Sport Forum, Sofia, Bulgaria, 23/03/18.

• EU Sport Diplomacy Seminar, Brussels, 6/12/17.

• ‘Agents and Intermediaries’ panel at EU Sport Forum, Malta, 08/03/17

• European Week of Sport: Flagship Event, Brussels, 16/09/16.

EU Football Agents Project

EU Football Agents Project

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Promoting and Supporting Good Governance in the European Football Agents Industry

Co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European UnionThis project received financial support under the EU’s Erasmus+ Programme (Collaborative Partnerships). The project commenced in January 2018 and will conclude in December 2019. The project is led by Edge Hill University (represented by Professor Richard Parrish) and the project partners are the Universidad Carlos III Madrid, the German Sport University Cologne, the University of Umeå in Sweden and the University of Rijeka in Croatia.

The focus of this project is to undertake evidence based research in order to promote and support good governance in the context of the regulation of football players’ agents (now referred to as ‘intermediaries’) in the EU.

Throughout the duration of the project, we will be hosting a series of international seminars designed to foster dialogue between the football stakeholders. We will also be undertaking an ambitious research plan which will detail how the FIFA Regulations on Working With Intermediaries have been implemented by national football associations across the EU.

For further information on the project, see the EU’s Erasmus+ page and follow us on Twitter at @eusportslaw.

If you have any questions regarding the project, please contact Professor Richard Parrish: [email protected].


Final Report (PDF)

National Associations’ Report (PDF)


London, September 27th 2018

Our first event took place in Russell Square, London. After a welcome and a short overview of the Erasmus+ football agents project, Professor Richard Parrish handed over to James Johnson, Head of Professional Football at FIFA and chair of the FIFA Transfer System Task Force. Mr Johnson discussed the work of the Task Force and outlined some proposals for agent regulation reform being discussed within it. Representatives from the football world reacted to the presentation, including Dr Roberto Branco Martins from the European Football Agents Association (EFAA), Mr Daan de Jong from the European Club Association (ECA) and Mr Wil Van Megen and Mr Tony Higgins from FIFPro. Nick de Marco QC then presented a number of legal issues for consideration should the new regulations opt for representation and remuneration restrictions. A very lively discussion then ensued with participation from sports governing bodies, academia and many of the leading sports law chambers and law firms from the UK and Europe.

An account of the event was published by Tiran Gunawardena in LawinSport.

Madrid, December 14th 2018

The second MSE was hosted by ISDE Madrid. After a welcome reception and an overview of the Erasmus+ Project given by Professor Carmen Pérez, Julien Zylbertstein, Head of EU & Stakeholders Affairs at UEFA and member of the FIFA Transfer System Task Force, presented an updated of the work of the Task Force. He focused both on the reforms already adopted (i.e. the establishment of a clearing house for international transfers and new operational rules for agents) and on future steps (protection of minors and training compensation/solidarity mechanism reforms). Dr Alberto Palomar, Professor of Administrative Law and Associate at Broseta Lawyers, Dr Jose Rodriguez, Associate at R&C Lawyers, and Ms Laura Hernández, Secretary General of the Spanish Association of Football Agents, reacted to Mr. Zylbertstein analysis. The presentations were followed by a stimulating discussion with participation of Dr Roberto Branco Martins from the European Football Agents Association (EFAA), Mr Daan de Jong from the European Club Association (ECA), Wil van Megen (FIFPRO), and representatives of academia and sports law firms from Spain, Italy and France.
A short overview (in Spanish) can be found here.

Cologne, February 1st 2019

The third MSE took place at German Sport University, Cologne. The event placed its emphasis on the issue of “professional standards: licensing and qualification”. After a panel with national experts from various Central and Eastern European countries shedding light on the implementation of and issues arising from the 2015 FIFA Regulations on Working with Intermediaries, the project team presented its thematic conclusions on this matter (Conclusion on Professional Standards: Licensing and Qualification).

The results and future scenarios for the regulation of players’ agents were commented by stakeholders from the national level, with some focus on Germany, and the international level. The intense discussion among the participating academics, representatives of clubs, associations and players’ unions as well as leading sports lawyers provided important incentives for the further course of the research project and the reform of the regulations alike.

Malmo, April 24th 2019

Protecting Young Footballers

The fourth MSE took place in Malmö and was hosted by Umeå University in cooperation with Malmö University and Malmö FF. The event focused on minor players and consisted of three sessions. The first session focused on young football players, the protection of children’s rights in football and best practice in the field on the basis of presentations by Dr Eleanor Drywood and Dr Serhat Yilmaz. The second session began by a presentation of the project and its interim conclusions regarding young players and agents. This was discussed by a panel consisting of Ondrej Zvara (EFAA), Jes Christian Fisker (DBU) and Tobias Tibell (SvFF) together with the other event participants. The third and final session concerned the role of clubs based on a presentation by Malmö FF regarding how they work with and protect the interests of minor players.

Rijeka, June 10th 2019

It is widely agreed that the 2015 FIFA Regulations on Working with Intermediaries suffered from implementation, enforcement and dispute resolution problems. New agent regulations are currently being discussed by FIFA and the football stakeholders. This event, the fourth in our international series, will discuss a range of options to improve the functioning of the regulations. We will also update participants on the progress of our study to date including explaining key findings on agent remuneration, dual representation, licensing and professional standards. This free event will bring together influential individuals and organisations from the football industry.

Date: Monday 10th June 2019

Location: University of Rijeka, Faculty of Law, Rijeka-Croatia, Hahlić 6, HR-51000 Rijeka

Contact: Professor Vanja Smokvina

Manchester, November 1st 2019

The Final Report will be released at a major sports law event held at the Etihad Stadium, home of Manchester City FC. A stakeholder panel with participation from FIFA, FIFPro, agents and more will discuss the study and debate the reforms FIFA have made to the international football agent regulations. Also during the day, other panels will discuss contemporary issues in sports law. Please visit the link below to appreciate why it is essential for those involved in the sports industry to attend.

Date: Friday 1st November 2019

Location: Etihad Stadium, Manchester

Programme: Manchester Programme

Contact: Professor Richard Parrish

Project Partners

Professor Richard ParishProfessor Richard Parrish
Edge Hill University

Professor Carmen Pérez GonzálezProfessor Carmen Pérez González
University Carlos III Madrid

Professor Jürgen MittagProfessor Jürgen Mittag
German Sport University, Cologne

Professor Johan LindholmProfessor Johan Lindholm
University of Umeå

Professor Vanja SmokvinaProfessor Vanja Smokvina
University of Rijeka, Faculty of Law

Dr Andrea CattaneoDr Andrea Cattaneo
Edge Hill University

EU Sport Diplomacy Project

EU Sport Diplomacy Project

This project received financial support under the EU’s Erasmus+ Programme (Collaborative Partnerships). The project commenced in January 2019 and concluded in December 2021 following a Covid-19 extension.

Promoting a Strategic Approach to EU Sport Diplomacy

Co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union logo

The project was led by Edge Hill University (represented by Professor Richard Parrish) and the project partners were the Universidad Carlos III Madrid, The University of Rijeka, Faculty of Law, the TMC Asser Institute, ESSCA, Université Catholique de Louvain and the Macedonian NGO TAKT (Together Advancing Common Trust). We co-operated with our associate partner, the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport (EPAS) from the Council of Europe.

The project undertook primary research and staged a series of Multiplier Sport Events (MSE) to support EU priorities in the area of sport diplomacy. The project outcomes will help the EU adopt a strategic approach to sport diplomacy and provide evidence of instances where sport can help amplify key EU diplomatic messages and help forge better diplomatic relations with third countries.

Some members of the project team, including the project lead, were members of the EU’s High-Level Group on Sport Diplomacy that produced a report for the European Commission in 2016.  Project lead, Prof. Richard Parrish, is also a member of a second Erasmus+ funded project examining the development of EU sport diplomacy. For further details see the TES-D project, Towards an EU sport diplomacy.


Final Report: Final Report

Executive Summary: Executive Summary

Interim Report: Sport and Citizenship


Zagreb, June 2019

Best Practice in Sport Diplomacy

Sport diplomacy is not a new idea, even though the EU has only recently turned its attention to it. Our opening event, hosted by Dr Vanja Smokvina from the University of Rijeka, Faculty of Law, took place in the Croatian capital Zagreb during a hot June. It examined how, in both historical and contemporary contexts, nation states have employed sport to amplify diplomatic messages. Examples of ad hoc and strategic state sport diplomacy initiatives were discussed, including those from the USA, Australia and Croatia. The event reflected on the lessons the EU can learn from these experiences and the challenges it faces in developing a sport diplomacy strategy given that the EU is not itself a nation state.

A welcome was provided by Prof. Vesna Crnić-Grotić, (Dean, University of Rijeka, Faculty of Law), Mr. Vladimir Iveta, (Secretary General Croatian Football Federation) and Dr. Martina Jeričević, (Central State Office for Sports of the Republic of Croatia). Prof. Stuart Murray from Bond University, Australia provided a key-note address that reflected on the discipline of sport diplomacy and best practices from other jurisdictions. Prof. Thierry Zintz then presented the work of the European Commission’s High-Level Group on Sport Diplomacy before Ms. Silvija Mitevska (TAKT, North Macedonia) discussed the US model of Sport Diplomacy, including her own experiences working in the US programme. The Croatian experience of sport diplomacy was discussed by Dr. Martina Jeričević, from the Central State Office for Sports of the Republic of Croatia and H.E. Elizabeth Petrovic, the Australian Ambassador to Croatia highlighted the value of sport as a tool for the amplification of diplomatic messages.

The role of the Youth Sports Games (Sportske igre mladih) was highlighted by Mr. Zdravko Marić and in the afternoon, a discussion took place on future initiatives with speakers Mr. Kazumasa Miyazaki (charge d´affaires, Embassy of Japan), Ms. Nikolina Paić (U.S. Embassy in Croatia) and Ms. Katja Šare (Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs). A final roundtable discussed the role of athletes and other sport stakeholders. Speakers were Mr. Dario Šimić (FIFA France ’98 bronze medallist), Ms. Ivančica Sudac (Croatian Football Federation), and Mr. Marko Babić (Croatian Chamber of Economy).

A paper reflecting on the outcome of the discussion is to be found in our final report.

Madrid, September 2019

Towards an Organisational Culture of Sport Diplomacy

Our opening event in Zagreb outlined the value attached to sport by states wanting to advance diplomatic messages. In Madrid, we turned our attention to how the EU can take advantage of the opportunities offered by sport diplomacy. Whilst it is easy to simply say the EU should ‘just get on and do it’, the EU’s organisational complexity raises a number of difficulties. Organised by Professor Carmen Pérez González from the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, our second event asked how can the EU move Towards an Organisational Culture of Sport Diplomacy?

Attendees were welcomed by Prof. Rosa Rodríguez, Dean of the School of Law and Social Sciences, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Prof. Carmen Pérez González, and Prof. Richard Parrish from Edge Hill University. In his presentation, Dr Simon Rofe from, SOAS, University of London, asked why do we need a more strategic approach to EU sport diplomacy?

Two panels then discussed how to develop an organisational culture of sport diplomacy within the EU. The first examined external perspectives with speakers, Ms. Ester Borrás Andreu (Deputy Director of the State Secretariat for Global Spain), Mr. Javier Sobrino del Toro (Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship, Universidad Pontificia de Comillas), Mr. José Moisés Martín (International Consultant, Red2Red) and Ms. Elin Drysen (UN World Tourism Organization).

The second panel then explored EU perspectives. Speakers were Ms. Agata Dziarnowska (European Commission), Mr. Mariano Soriano Lacambra (Director-General of Sports, Spanish Sports Council) and Mr. Juan Martorell Aroca (Department of International Relations, Spanish Sports Council). Closing remarks were made by Prof. Corneliu Bjola, Associate Professor of Diplomatic Studies, University of Oxford.

Strasbourg, November 2019

Perspectives of Cooperation with International Organisations

Our third event brought us to Strasbourg, the home to EU and Council of Europe institutions. The choice of location was no accident. Article 165 TFEU calls on the EU to foster cooperation with international organisations in the field of sport, particularly the Council of Europe. The event was organised by Prof. Albrecht Sonntag, Professor at the ESSCA School of Management, and facilitated by our associate partner EPAS from the Council of Europe.

Attendees were welcomed by Marija Crnković, Member of the EPAS Governing Board Bureau and Laurent Thieule, President of Sport and Citizenship Think-Tank, publishers of our interim report. An opening round table discussed how are European institutions perceived by other actors of sport diplomacy? The audience heard the views of Oriol Freixa Matalonga, (Policy Officer, UNESCO), Pere Miro (Deputy Director General, International Olympic Committee), Laurence Fischer (Sport Ambassador, Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, France), Zeina Mina (Director, International Francophone Games Committee) and Carole Gomez (Researcher, French Institute for International and Strategic Relations).

A second panel explored perspectives for enhanced synergies between the European Union and the Council of Europe in sport diplomacy. Speakers were Roland Büchel (Member of the Parliamentary Assembly, Council of Europe), Snezana Samardzic-Markovic (Director General of Democracy, Council of Europe), Tiziana Beghin (Member of the European Parliament), Agata Dziarnowska (European Commission) and SatuHeikkinen (Senior Ministerial Adviser, Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture). Closing remarks were given by William Gasparini, Professor at the University of Strasbourg and Stanislas Frossard, Exectutive Secretary, Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport (EPAS), Council of Europe.

The Hague, March 2020

Mega-sporting events and human rights: What role can EU sport diplomacy play?

Organised by Dr Antoine Duval of the TMC Asser Institute, our fourth event explored: Mega-sporting events and human rights: What role can EU sport diplomacy play? The event was inspired by the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar and its links to human rights violations. But Qatar is not alone, as past Olympic Games have also highlighted human rights abuses. These controversies have led sports governing bodies to slowly embrace human rights as an integral part of their core values and policies. As private sports entities have started to take human rights more seriously, this raises the question of the need for the EU to place human rights at the heart of its own sport diplomacy.

Our event took place just as travel restrictions were taking hold across Europe due to Covid-19. Nevertheless, an excellent audience listened to two roundtables. In the first, speakers discussed the diplomatic power and capacity of sports governing bodies to fend for human rights. Speakers were Lucy Amis (Unicef UK/Institute for Human Rights and Business), Guido Battaglia (Centre for Sport and Human Rights), Florian Kirschner (World Players Association / UNI Global Union), Verity Postlewaite (University of Worcester). The second roundtable explored the EU’s integration of human rights considerations linked to mega-sports events in its own sport diplomacy. Speakers were Arnout Geeraert (Utrecht University), Agata Dziarnowska (European Commission) and Alexandre Mestre (Sport and Citizenship).

Skopje, November 2021

Sport Diplomacy in Practice

Our fifth event, postponed a number of times due to Covid-19 restrictions, finally took place in November 2021 in Skopje, the capital of the Republic of North Macedonia. The event was hosted by TAKT (Together Advancing Common Trust), an NGO active in North Macedonia that uses sport to bridge cultures, enhance dialogue among communities, fight gender and social discrimination and empower vulnerable groups such as refugees. The event brought together national ministries from North Macedonia and neighbouring states, national sport bodies, and NGOs.

Held at the EU House in Skopje, two panels discussed the practical operation of sport diplomacy in the region. Following a presentation of the project made by project lead, Professor Richard Parrish, the first panel, moderated by Silvija Mitevska from the Cabinet of the Prime Minister of North Macedonia, explored sport diplomacy as a tool for the international promotion of small nations. Speakers were Daniel Dimevski, President of NOC of North Macedonia; Adnan Ahmeti from the Kosovo Sport Institute; Gavin Price, co-author of the British Council study advocating the adoption of a Welsh sport diplomacy strategy; and Driton Kuka, Coach of Kosovan gold medalist at the Tokyo Olympics.

After the break and following a presentation given by Dr Simon Rofe, (SOAS), the second panel, moderated by TAKT President Magdalena Spasovska, examined the issue of grassroot sport diplomacy and athletes as sport ambassadors. Speakers were Marc Barrett, General Secretary of the Kosovo Rugby Federation; Iva Projkovska, an international football referee from North Macedonia; and Nadica Jovanovik, an international sport for development expert from TAKT.

Panellists and members of the audience agreed that sport diplomacy offered rich opportunities for countries in the region and current and former athletes are carriers of key diplomatic messages. It was agreed that further events should be staged in the region so that the conversation could be continued.

Brussels, November 2021

Final Flagship Event

Our final flagship event was staged in Brussels in November 2021 at the Tour and Taxis venue. The event took place within the framework of the ISCA MOVE Congress. Professor Thierry Zintz from the Université catholique de Louvain, introduced the session followed by a keynote address from Gugliemo Di Cola, member of Cabinet in charge of Sport from the Cabinet of European Commissioner Maryia Gabriel. The audience heard high level discussions in two panels. The first explored the EU Strategy on Sport Diplomacy and Best Practices. Chaired by Laurent Thieule, President of Sport and Citizenship, speakers were Silvija Mitevska from the Cabinet of the Prime Minister of North Macedonia; Marc Tarabella, Member of the European Parliament and Chair of the Sport Eurogroup of the Parliament; Valérie Glatigny, Minister of Sport, Fédération Wallonie – Bruxelles, Belgium; and Professor Tanguy de Wilde d’Estmael, Université catholique de Louvain, Europe – China and Europe – Russia Chairs.

The second panel examined International Organisations and Major Sport Events as Vectors of Sport Diplomacy in Society. Moderated by Professor Albrecht Sonntag from the ESSCA School of Management in France, speakers were Baron Pierre‐Olivier Beckers – Vieujant, Member of IOC and President of the Belgian Olympic and Interfederal Committee; Elda Moreno, Head of the Children’s Rights and Sport Values Department from the Council of Europe; and Prof Michel Liégeois, President of Institut de sciences politiques Louvain‐Europe at the Université catholique de Louvain.

The flagship event marked an important moment for EU sport diplomacy because in the morning, prior to the flagship event, the audience heard another panel explore the development of EU sport diplomacy. The morning session, hosted by the TES-D project heard from Dr Ashleigh Huffman, US Department of State; Dr Simon Rofe, Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy, UK; and Karine Teow from the International Table Tennis Foundation.

Project Partners

Professor Richard ParrishProfessor Richard Parrish
Edge Hill University

Dr Antoine DuvalDr Antoine Duval
The TMC Asser Institute

Professor Carmen Pérez GonzálezProfessor Carmen Pérez González
University Carlos III Madrid

Silvija MitevskaSilvija Mitevska
Macedonian NGO TAKT

Professor Albrecht SonntagProfessor Albrecht Sonntag

Professor Thierry ZintzProfessor Thierry Zintz
Université Catholique de Louvain

Professor Vanja Smokvina

Professor Vanja Smokvina
University of Rijeka, Faculty of Law

Dr Andrea CattaneoDr Andrea Cattaneo
Edge Hill University

EU Summer School

Co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union logo

In 2016, Professor Richard Parrish was awarded a Jean Monnet Chair in EU Sports Law and Policy. To mark this achievement, the Centre for Sports Law Research now offers an annual EU Sports Law and Policy Summer School. The first such Summer School was held at Edge Hill University at the end of August 2017. With the generous support of the EUs Erasmus + Programme, the events were offered free of charge and they attracted delegates from across Europe. In addition to the classes delivered by Professor Parrish, delegates were able to learn from a number of experts from the Sport & EU community.

2019 Summer School

2018 Summer School

2017 Summer School



The Centre for Sports Law Research has organised the following events:

Seminar on Sport and Human Rights

The Department of Law and Criminology, the Centre for Sports Law Research and the International Justice and Human Rights Unit hosted a Seminar on Sport and Human Rights.

Sport is a global system that generates its own rules and principles, but operates in the context of universal values, such as fair play, right to participate, and solidarity. Amongst these values, the protection of human rights of athletes, sportspeople, workers and fans must be upheld. The “Sport and Human Rights” seminar highlighted the challenges faced by a private system bound to apply public standards.

Topics for discussion included:

  • Children’s Rights and Sport
  • Human Rights and Sports Governing Bodies
  • The International Olympic Committee and Freedom of Speech


  • Professor Mark James, Manchester Metropolitan University
  • Dr Eleanor Drywood, Liverpool University
  • Dr Leanne O’Leary, Edge Hill University

For further information, please contact Andrea Cattaneo or Patrick Butchard.

Policing Football

The Department of Law and Criminology, the Centre for Sports Law Research and the Policing Research Unit are pleased to announce an early evening discussion on ‘Policing Football’. Topics for discussion include:

  • Alcohol control: is it time for reform?
  • Safe-standing: opportunity or risk?
  • Football Banning Orders: Effective or punitive?
  • Policing costs: Who pays?
  • Fan culture: Where do the boundaries lie?


  • Dave Charnock, Superintendent, Merseyside Police
  • Amanda Jacks, Case Worker, Football Supporters’ Federation.
  • Dr Geoff Pearson, University of Manchester.
  • Owen West, Retired Chief Superintendent, West Yorkshire Police.


Date: Friday 22 November 2019
Location: Law and Psychology Building, Edge Hill University
Drinks: 5pm – 5.30pm
Event: 5.30pm – 7pm
Reception: 7pm – 7.30pm

The Future of Sports Law and Business Flagship Conference November 2019

With the support of the Erasmus+ Programme of the EU SupportKings Chambers, in conjunction with the Centre for Sports Law Research at Edge Hill University, presented a flagship conference looking at the future issues and opportunities in the sporting sector. This one-day conference brought together leading sports law and business experts from across Europe to offer their insight into current trends and future developments.

Rather than simply provide an update or debate an aspect of an area of sports law, this conference was intended as a critical event for those immersed in the world of sport. The conference provided the opportunity for those with an interest in sports law, governance and the business of sport, the chance to hear what the leading experts think about the important issues within sport in 2019 and beyond, as well as time to debate, discuss and expand up on the topics discussed throughout the course of the day.

The event incorporated the release of the findings from a major two-year study, generously supported by the European Union’s Erasmus+ Programme, into the regulation of football agents across Europe. Leading industry figures and stakeholders debated the findings and discussed what the future holds for football agents.

Resolving Sports Disputes Public Seminar

Co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European UnionIn November 2018, the Centre for Sports Law Research held an open public seminar on Resolving Sports Disputes. We are very grateful to our guest speaker, Steven Flynn (Barrister, St John’s Buildings Chambers), Elke Kendall and Matthew Ross (Solicitors, Brabners) and Gareth Farrelly (Solicitor, Bermans), for their contributions. The event was generously supported by the EU’s Erasmus+ Programme, Jean Monnet programme.

Sport & EU Conference 2018

A group photo of staff and delegates at the Sport & EU conference

Co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union logo

Between July 3-4 2018, the Centre for Sports Law Research hosted the 13th annual Sport&EU conference. With over 100 speakers and delegates, this was the largest event in Sport&EU history.

The event brought together leading academics and sports practitioners to discuss the major issues facing sport in Europe. The conference received generous support of the EU’s Erasmus+ Programme.

Sports Law and Business Conference 2018

The International Sports Law and Business conference at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester, home of Manchester City Football ClubOn March 16th, the Centre for Sports Law Research, in collaboration with St John’s Buildings Chambers, Manchester, hosted an international Sports Law and Business conference at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester, home of Manchester City FC. Over 200 delegates heard industry leading practitioners discuss:

  • Sports Media: Brand Rights in the Digital Single Market
  • E-Sports: Legal issues and opportunities in this developing area
  • Safeguarding: Ensuring the safety of participants & the possibility of future litigation
  • Sports disciplinary and arbitration panels
  • The need for a transfer system in professional sport
  • Equality in sport

Speakers included:

  • Rick Parry, former Head of the Premier League
  • David Conn, The Guardian
  • Clare Briegal, International Netball Federation
  • Ramunas Linartas, European Commission
  • Paul Stewart, former professional footballer. Author of ‘Damaged’
  • Despina Mavromati, sports lawyer
  • Giovanni Branchini, Sports Agent
  • Anna Baumann, eSports lawyer
  • Tom ‘Morte’ Kerbusch, eSports professional
  • Amanda Hill, England and Wales Cricket Board
  • Richard Cramer, Front Row Legal
  • Sam Hillas, Judicial Officer RFU
  • Richard Grundy, Barrister

eSports 2017

Two individuals play FIFA 17 in front of a large TVeSports refers to competitive video gaming. In recent years, eSports has become enormously popular. eSports tournaments are played for money and they can draw huge audiences. The legal issues connected with this activity are little understood and so in March 2017, the Centre for Sports Law Research hosted a half day workshop exploring the governance of sports and examining employment related issues within the industry. Our keynote speaker, Koen Weijland from Ajax FC not only spoke about working within the industry, he also demonstrated his eSports skills by challenging audience members to a game of FIFA 17. Also speaking were Kevin Carpenter, member of the Esports Integrity Coalition, and Robert Branco Martins, a sports lawyer.

Football Law 2016

In November 2016 at the Hotel Football, Old Trafford, Manchester, the Centre for Sports Law Research, in collaboration with St John’s Buildings Chambers, Manchester, hosted an international Football Law conference. Over 100 delegates listened to industry leading speakers discuss the football transfer system, football governance and the consequences of Brexit for football.

Speakers included:

  • Jane Purdon, UK Sport
  • Wil van Megan, FIFPro
  • Malcolm Clarke, Football Supporters Federation,
  • Yves le Losteque, European Commission
  • Carol Couse, Mills and Reeve
  • Simon Barker, Professional Footballers Association
  • Angelique Bret, Pinsent Masons
  • Daniel Geey, Sheridans
  • Mark Hovell, Mills and Reeve
  • Paul Rawnsley, Deloitte
  • Kevin Carpenter, Captivate Legal
  • Stuart Baird, Centrefield
  • Roberto Branco Martins, European Football Agents Association

Previous Events

  • Bosman at 20: The Future of Sports Law, November 27th 2015, Edge Hill University. Speakers: Sean Cottrell (LawinSport), Chris Anderson (Everton FC), Roberto Branco Martins (EFAA), Kevin Carpenter (consultant) & Alan Dafir (Front Row Legal).
  • The Regulation of Players’ Agents and Third Party Ownership, Lisbon, June 2014, with Lisbon law firm Albuquerque & Associates.
  • International Conference on ‘Football and the Law’, Radisson Edwardian Hotel, Manchester, 30th March 2012, in partnership with Brabners Chaffe Street Solicitors.
  • Workshop on ‘The Future of European Sports Law: The Lisbon Treaty and Sport’, Speakers were Maurice Watkins (Director, Manchester United FC), Professor Stephen Weatherill (University of Oxford) & Ken Foster (University of Westminster), March 2010.
  • International Conference, the Third Annual Sport&EU Conference, Edge Hill University, 4-5 July 2008.
  • International Conference, British Council-NWO Partnership Programme in Science funded international post-doctoral conference, ‘The European Commission White Paper on Sport’, Den Haag, February 2008.



To contact the Centre, please email Professor Richard Parrish.

Edge Hill University
Centre for Sports Law Research
St Helens Road
L39 4QP
United Kingdom

01695 657609

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