The legal phenomenon of lex sportiva in international sports law

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Author: Artem Bredikhin

DOI: 10.21128/2226-2059-2020-4-168-183

Keywords: Court of Arbitration for Sport; cross-border labor relations; FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players; lex mercatoria; lex sportiva


The development of sports law is directly related to the nature of sports, whose legal relations must have uniformity and stability, achieved through regulation by special rules created by international and national sports organizations – lex sportiva. This paper is devoted to lex sportiva as one of the most important tools for regulating cross-border relations in the field of sports. The author examines the origin and legal nature of lex sportiva as well as its impact on national legislation in the field of sports. Moreover, the author elaborates on possible meanings of this notion: lex sportiva as a set of rules of self-regulation, as a set of decisions of the Court of Arbitration for Sport, as a legal principle, as a phenomenon of implementation, and as a criterion for determining the amount of compensation. The author discusses the use of lex sportiva by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in the context of dispute resolution, since this court has formed an extensive judicial practice throughout its existence, which, together with the rules of national and international sports organizations, forms an important part of lex sportiva. In this regard, the author draws parallels with the related source of cross-border law – lex mercatoria, and also considers situations in which there are conflicts between lex sportiva and the norms of international law and rules of national legislation. In the field of sports, such legal conflicts are resolved by the principle of lex specialis derogat legi generali, according to which the rules of lex sportiva prevail over national law, providing a principle for the autonomy of sports. The first mention of the recognition of this principle is contained in the sources of law of the European Union. Finally, the author comes to the conclusion that the generally recognized two-dimensional understanding of lex sportiva as a doctrine and as a set of norms of self-regulation in sports is outdated, since it does not fully reveal the essence of the legal phenomenon, since it does not reflect all its properties which are manifested in the situations of legal regulation of relationships in the sports field. The exclusive role of lex sportiva is predicted to resolve international legal and organizational conflicts in the field of sports caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

About the author: Artem Bredikhin – Ph.D. Student, Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia.

Citation: Bredikhin A. (2020) Fenomen lex sportiva v mezhdunarodnom sportivnom prave [The legal phenomenon of lex sportiva in the international sports law]. Mezhdunarodnoe pravosudie, vol.10, no.4, pp.168–183.


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