Sports Law Adelaide & Australia-wide

The term ‘sports law’ encompasses a broad range of legal areas, from disciplinary matters to complex commercial transactions.

As a multi-service boutique law firm, we are uniquely positioned to cater for the individual needs of sporting athletes. Our directive towards one-on-one service and flexibility ensures that our clients can access our services at their convenience and when they need us. Our specialist sports lawyers can provide expert advice on:

  • Player contract review and negotiations
  • Esports
  • Events, teams, and tournament structuring
  • Sponsorship, advertising, and media management
  • Olympic team selection issues
  • Anti-doping, misconduct, and other disciplinary matters
  • Sporting tribunals and sports dispute resolution
  • Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) Appeals

Contract review/negotiations

During sports contract reviews and negotiations, a sports team who is also considered the employer in this context, is generally in a stronger bargaining position than an athlete. This is particularly the case with less professional sportspeople. An exception might be a professional athlete at an elite level in their sport.

Usually, an athlete’s interests will be represented by their players’ association through a collective bargaining arrangement. This is common in AFL, rugby union, soccer, cricket, and netball. Most athletes who participate in these sports are covered by collective bargaining agreements which form the basis of a player’s contractual terms and minimum conditions.

If you are a professional athlete who is about to enter into a new employment contract or review your existing contract, we can provide sound advice to ensure your rights are protected and your interests are looked after.

Anti-doping codes

All major professional sports have anti-doping codes adopted from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). This essentially means that if an athlete tests positive to a particular drug, they will automatically be disqualified from playing in all WADA compliant sports for the period of their ban.

Article 2 of the Australian National Anti-Doping Policy (ANADP) states that it is the athlete’s personal responsibility to ensure that no prohibited substance enters their body. Athletes will be responsible for any prohibited substance, or its markers found to be present in their samples.

Athletes are also responsible for having a thorough knowledge of the anti-doping rule violations and which substances and methods are prohibited. Ignorance is no defence. Athletes must also be aware of the sanctions that could be applied to them under the ANADP such as disqualification from playing their sport.

The ANADP can be overwhelming to comprehend so we recommend an athlete seek legal advice from an experienced lawyer to ensure they understand their responsibilities under the ADADP.

Misconduct and disciplinary matters

Misconduct occurs where an athlete engages in behaviour or actions that are contrary to standards set in a sporting organisation’s code of conduct. For example, Football South Australia has adopted FIFA Australia’s Code of Ethics and Conduct which South Australian football players are required to abide by. A couple of examples included in the FIFA code of conduct include to:

  • respect the decisions of match officials and teach children to do the same
  • never ridicule or scold a child for making a mistake
  • respect the rights, dignity and worth of every person regardless of gender, ability, race, colour, religion, language, politics, national or ethnic origin

If your sporting organisation believes you have breached a code of conduct, you may receive a letter asking you to explain your behaviour, show cause as to why a breach should not be found against you, and that a relevant sanction should not be applied.

All athletes should make an effort to read and understand their organisation’s code of conduct. If you are unsure of what is required of you under a code of conduct or you have received a letter regarding a potential breach, we recommend you speak to one of our lawyers.

The State Sports Dispute Centre

The State Sports Dispute Centre (SSDC) provides confidential and impartial mediation and dispute resolution services for South Australian sporting communities.

The SSDC provides trained independent member protection information officers, mediators, facilitators, and arbitrators to assist its members engaged in sports disputes to reach settlement agreements.

This service is only available to Sport SA members and in general the SSDC will only become involved in sporting disputes when the State Sporting Organisation (SSO) is unable to resolve a dispute.

The type of disputes the SSDC can hear include:

  • disputes between colleagues, staff, management or staff and a board of management/directors
  • disciplinary hearings and selection/non-selection for sports teams and squads
  • appointment of coaches/managers/officials and employment related matters
  • member complaints of harassment, equal opportunities and discrimination, and issues relating to Member Protection Policy or volunteer screening


Esports is essentially competitive online video gaming, also known as ‘electronic sports’. Esports has a global audience of over 35 million people and prize money in the millions for each tournament.

Esports has become a billion-dollar global industry. The commercialisation of different esport games, the operation and governance of tournaments, and ever-changing industry has resulted in a range of commercial, policy and legal issues including broadcast rights, intellectual property, and gambling regulation.

The Australian Esports Association (AESA) Code of Conduct applies to each category of persons and entities who are members of the Esports Association. This includes players, coaches, teams, organisations, leagues, and tournament organisers, as well as officials and staff who are either employed or volunteer with the Esports Association.

The AESA includes conduct relating to general behaviour, public confidence, game fixing and bribes and social media posts.

We have a strong passion for Australian sports law and sports dispute resolution and a keen interest in ensuring that Australian sport and its athletes are afforded procedural fairness in team selection and sports tribunal processes.

If you need assistance, contact one of our lawyers at [email protected] or call 08 8155 5322 for expert legal advice.

Our team is here to help you every step of the way.
Need advice? Get in touch today.