This year St Petersburg University is starting to train sports lawyers. The programme was developed with the help of leading sports employers: Football Club Zenit St Petersburg, SKA Ice Hockey Club, St Petersburg Football Federation, the Committee for Physical Culture and Sports of St Petersburg, and Ernst & Young Legal Services.

Programme Sports Lawyer

Programme developers have noted that world sport is under serious pressure from new factors. On the one hand, there are questions concerning the extent of fair competition and ways of ensuring legality in sport. On the other hand, there are issues related to the compliance of international sports federations with the changing principles of operation. As a result, the institute of ‘the neutral flag’ has been established. There are cases where the results of ‘investigations’ were recognised as being of prejudicial character. They had been conducted for the first time, and their methodology was far from being transparent. There are also cases of “collective” responsibility of sportsmen when there were suspicions concerning the supposed state manipulation of the doping control process and test results. Also, there are cases where clubs have been held liable for financial fair-play violations.

‘It is possible to recall not only the controversial situation of the performance of athletes under the neutral flag, but also the suspension of membership of the national federation in the international federation, non-compliance of the national anti-doping organisation with the requirements of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), development of European club competitions (financial fair play, proposals to create a closed league), and many other cases,’ said Ilia Vasilyev, Associate Professor of St Petersburg University and programme supervisor.

SPORT IS NOT ONLY COMPETITIONS, BUT A CONSTANT PROCESS OF PREPARING SPORTSMEN, CLUBS AND NATIONAL TEAMS FOR THEM.

ILIA VASILYEV, SUPERVISOR OF THE PROGRAMME ‘SPORTS LAWYER’, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF ST PETERSBURG UNIVERSITY

High achievements in sport intensify competition and result in disputes, which require the qualified help of sports lawyers.

‘Today, when international sports legislation is enforced in national jurisprudence, a sports lawyer should have fine tuning. He should not only respond quickly to any change in the rules, which is undoubtedly necessary. He should also be aware of the direction being taken by the development of national and international legal sports regulation at a particular moment’, said Olga Popova, Head of the Law, Labour and State Service Division of the Committee for Physical Culture and Sports of St Petersburg.

There are few such specialists in the country. Such a shortage pertains to the fact that Russian higher education institutions rarely offer any educational products in this sphere. St Petersburg University is ready to change the situation. The educational process of the programme is planned to take into consideration semester specialisation, with a focus on practical training and independent work under the supervision of specialists.

Cooperation with the major sports organisations of St Petersburg has helped to compile an exhaustive list of competencies of future graduates in accordance with the current requirements of the labour market. It is the involvement of students working with potential employers that opens wider opportunities in selecting their career path: in sports clubs; sports federations; professional leagues; law firms providing legal advice on sports issues; and in state agencies.

The master programmer is a kind of a landmark that can help a graduate get on track and provide qualified advice to their club in resolving sports disputes.

Oleg Zadubrovsky, Head of Legal Department of the FC Zenit St Petersburg

The programme development working group has emphasised that sports lawyers are being prepared for the national labour market. This will result in sports federations and physical education and sports institutions upholding the rule of law and responding to changes in the legal and regulatory environment.