Sport as grey Field in the Legal sector of Nepal
It has almost been a year that we hosted South Asian games 2019 in our home soil. 51 Gold medals that we achieved in this SAG event was not a piece of cake to the player who achieved and for we all Nepalese people. It felt like something big festival was going all over our country where everyone was only talking about Sports. All those craziness, passion, support could be seen only because of Sports.
Sport refers to an activity involving physical as well as mental skill. Here, two or more parties compete against each other. Sports are an integral part of human life and there is great importance of sports in all spheres of life. Furthermore, Sports help build the character and personality of a person. It is used for fun by some people, whereas some say it their passion. It certainly is an excellent tool to keep the body physically fit. Most noteworthy, the benefits of Sports are so many that books can be written. Sports have a massive positive effect on both the mind and body. So people who have passion in sports are not fully confident in making profession in sport filed. Why is it? Why the players who are so much in love and committed towards this field see darkness in this sector as their profession? Why the parents are still afraid sending their children in this field?
This is because law is not strong that protects this field as the profession. Our laws are outdated if we see in the sector of Sports. Of course it is something that is derived from the incidents that takes place but for drafting the sports legislation would never be a bad idea anywhere. This would only promote the sports sectors and legal scope in sports related issues.
When we add the term Sports with Law, then it become complex and difficult to understand in general sense as there is no such definition to describe what exactly sports law is? In general, we can understand Sports law as the rules regulating the sports and sports related activities. In broader sense, we can say that the Law that governs all the issues regarding sportsmanship, Games, Disciplines, awards and punishments.
In Nepal, The scope of Sports is slowly growing. Sport is fast turning into a basic routine of every individual to do these days. From the level of Children to the Aged group of people, Teens and Youths to the mid aged peoples everyone is managing their time to engage in sports in one or other way. Craziness on Sports could also be seen in such a way that at least there would not be any game with empty audience. From Village to urban areas, the crowd of audience is also amazing which could be referred to the latest game event SAG held in Nepal.
In such a Sport loving Nation, The law for Sports seems to be neglected. There are not sufficient laws made especially governing the Sports field in Nepal. The Ministry for Sports is itself related with another big subject that is with Youths. So The Ministry of Youth and Sports is may be a burden for one minister which may have led to the negligence on the issue of Sports in legal perspective.
Sport is no doubt one of the fastest growing fields in our country but If we see our laws, then the laws for sports are yet to be made as per the need of today’s scenario. The Law which actually tries to address the issue of Sports in Nepal is Sports Development Act, 2048(1992) which was made at the time of Late king Birendra. The essence of this act shows the works to be done for the upliftment of sports by organizing various trainings, Physical and Mental Development and making competent sports person who could actually participate in International levels representing Nepal. When we read through its sections, then we cannot find the provisions highlighting “development of Sports” but rather the development of the Sports committee, their functions and compositions and punishments and their term period.
Sport law is often called as the law which emerges not actually from the parliamentarian but from the cases that appears in the sports events. Several Countries like U.K., U.S.A, and many European Countries are the examples who have opted laws after facing different cases in Sports. May be Nepal has not faced much cases relating to sports which is why we lack enough laws for sports but when there comes the issue then we may not have exact law to address such issue in country.
The famous Match Fixing Case of National Footballers in 2015 of Nepal brought a serious Question about the need of Sport law. When the case came to the Special Court with the petition for the Match fixing scandal, there was no such law which could tell what type of crime is it? What punishment should be given to those people? It is because we are far more behind in drafting and legislating proper Sport law that could address such Sport related issues. Although, this year, the case was decided as the players and officials were found not guilty for the match fixing scandal.
Later as a consequence of this case, the court gave an order to issue directives addressing the match fixing case upon which our New Muluki Criminal Code, 2074 sec (51) has made the provision addressing the crime of match fixing as the crime against the state where the punishment is up to 3 years of imprisonment and thirty thousand rupees fine for such crime.
It is not only the case of Match fixing that is to be addressed by our laws. There are several other issues which we are unaware of addressing such as Doping cases, Sports betting and many others. We are yet to face such issues in our near future which might led us to the same situation as of the match fixing case, upon which we would lack the instrument to take actions against such Acts.
Sport Law is a vast term which has its linkage to several other laws like Criminal law, Private International Law, Contract Law, Insurance Law, Tort Law, Labor and employment law, Nationality law and many more. Most of the Sports related Actions are taken upon the Codes and standards of the respective games. If we see in Football, All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) is the official governing body of Football in Nepal which is under the rules of AFC and FIFA. Being based upon the rules and standards formulated by them, ANFA has also made its rules being based upon which it takes its actions.
One of the examples is the suspension for 4 National players of football which was the action taken by the ANFA for violating the Disciplinary Action by going Pub during the close training session. Similar is to other games as well where CAN is there for Cricket, NVA is there for Volleyball working under Nepal Olympics Committee.
For the formulation of proper Sport Law, we also should have proper education which can teach such subject in our country, but it’s disappointing that none of the Universities have started this subject in their teaching course in our country. So when we don’t have proper experts and professors in such an important subject, then how can we expect that Proper Law would be made addressing the Sports related issues?
Big Sports events are slowly being organized in various sectors where lots of Foreign players have also started to be part of such tournaments. Everest Premier League (EPL), A Division League is the examples among them. There are the issues to be addressed about the Sponsorships, Franchise, Licensing, advertisements which our Country does not have such laws that would govern all these issues.
The other news that came from the last year’s A Division league match between Nepal Army Club against Jawalakhel Youth Club (JYC) on Magh 14,2076 where Daddy Junior Bamba of JYC said that the Army’s Captain Bharat Khawas made the statement of racial discrimination against him. Our Constitution has clearly addressed that no one is allowed to discriminate any person in any racial, caste or ethnic based discrimination, if person does so, then that would be subject to punishment.
Another case of A Division league where the news of Match fixing was out in the game of Saraswoti Youth Club (SYC) and Himalayan Sherpa Club (HSC) where the Captain of SYC Dipak shrestha got suspended for 3 games being charged for Match fixing. Furthermore 4 players and officials from the HSC and SYC were questioned by ANFA for further investigation. During the investigation, the Shrestha was found to make an offer to the goalkeeper of HSC Kishor Giri for Match fixing. Although the offer was not accepted by the goalie of HSC, but they were held for starting the crime of match fixing. ANFA has started taking immediate actions upon these issues which is a good rise for the scope of sports law in Nepal but similar actions should be taken in every sports not only in Football.
The issues of contracts signing while recruiting players into teams, the issues of paying taxes by the players, their allowances and benefits, the insurance for playing, the issues relating to visa and citizenship, wrong acts that are to be dealt with torts are all the issues that our laws lacks till this date and which are to be addressed by making new Sports Law which should be updated with all these modern sports issues. The existing laws are already outdated to handle the problem that arises in the field of Sports these days. The COVID-19 pandemic has largely affected the sports field as well where the players, match officials are having their hard time to survive without getting their wages. The event organizers are also in huge loss due to this crisis situation. But this could actually be the best time to discuss, analyze and draft a new Sports Act that would cover all these sports related issues. There are very few people who have the proper knowledge about the sports law or who are expertise of sports law. Government should start planning to produce the expertise in sports law as well where universities are yet to be known about this field. So it’s an alarm for the government to draft sport law and invest some of the budget producing Sport law experts who can actually deal all these issues before it’s too late.
( Satya N. Maharjan is B.A.L.L.B., Fifth Year student at Kathmandu School of Law)
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