You might have never heard about them, what they do, how they started but you’ll be amazed at how much they do and intend to do. Meet the Centre for Sports Law, a Nairobi based charitable organization that seeks to promote and protect the rights of athletes, sport persons and sport entities in Kenya.
The centre for sports law was duly registered as a trust in July 2012. They offer legal services which are probono, organise seminars and workshops on sports law ( currently they are in talks with KEFWA and KPL organising one for footballers) also have agreed with Strathmore CIPIT on a seminar that will be held next year in April on Intellectual property mostly Image rights. They engage in research, Felix Majani, Elvis Majani and Nick Otieno have published articles in partnership with other international sports lawyers including Mr Michele Colucci a Judge at FIFA on African Sports Law and Business Journal http://www.africansportslawjournal.com/. They currently work with Mount Kenya University in research on Sports Law. The Centre for Sports Law intends to groom and nurture talent as a future plan and Ensure the growth and Development of Sports. They introduced Sports Law in Kenya and intend to protect it.
Centre for Sports Law basically has a board that deals with several matters and comprises of several lawyers in this country. I’m only lucky to meet two for this interview but I must point out, I’m amazed at the type of passion they exhibit in their work.
In a country where sports is fast picking up as just not entertainment but also business, they seek to build the sports industry by partnering with various federations, always seeking to hold relevant agencies accountable on matters affecting sportsmen and not just that- provide advice to all sportsmen and federations.
You’ll be amazed to know a few clients they deal with, a few who play the game now, who played in the past and even some top sports federations. The names that are floated range from Kennedy Oduor (Muhoroni Youth formely at Sofapaka), A manager and a TM in one of the top teams (names withheld) Simon Mulama (former international) and hosts of federations (The Football Kenya Federation, Athletics Kenya) just to mention but a few.
Federations or Individuals
Just like in every other job the customer is always the King and in this case the client is the king. While advice might be given, the final decision rests with them.
As mentioned earlier, Centre for sports Law serves a large pool of clients. I’m interested to know who is easier to work with, a federation or an individual – The answer is a perfect reflection of what ails our federations.
“Federations in Kenya have no proper structures that you can work with. For a player it’s easy as you have to deal with just one individual”
But while it’s easy to deal with players- the question thus would be, why not so many players have embraced legal services even when it’s clear their rights are infringed.
“Our players don’t seek for advice, they rarely go through their contracts thus clubs take advantage of them”
It’s therefore right at this moment for every sportsman in Kenya to note that before they put pen to paper on any contract offered to them, they need to at least approach a lawyer, discuss with their families and friends and only sign when they are fully satisfied. This reduces the chances of clubs (mostly in football) dropping players before their contracts expire without compensation or a proper agreement. It also reduces chances of players having to run up and down chasing payments and allowances as they are fully guarded by the law.
Among the cases Centre for Sports Law Kenya have taken part in involve; Collins Kisuya v AFC Leopards when the latter accused Kisuya of contract breach as he wanted a move to Belgium in 2011. Currently in the corridors of justice is a case KEFWA (Kenya Footballers Association) is dealing with in which they are heavily involved, in which a certain club is accused of breaching a player’s contract.
“Issues of allowances are in-house at times” advices Mr Majani in a reply to a query whether federations can be taken to task regarding player allowances in cases where they represent the national team. Federations should just be straight forward and pay players for services rendered as most of the time contracts are not signed. He advices though that in case an agreement was signed, then going to court would be advisable in case a dispute arises.
Which is easier for a sportsman/body- Being represented by a local lawyer or a foreign lawyer? “It depends on the player” they note. A case like for in football- FIFA rules are universal and govern the game no matter location. The greatest attribute they advise is that the player/body needs to be comfortable with the legal representative.
Centre for Sports law does not recruit agents or in any way recruit would-be agents, it’s important to note they (agents) can approach them for legal advice.
What’s the favourite part of this job?
Representing Clients, Winning cases, coming up with precedences and even more to that, what beats the satisfaction that a client is happy with your work.
How can one be a sports lawyer?
Basics first- study law, try and attain a master in Sports law (most studied outside the country) but more than ever have passion for sports.
What would an ideal client be like?
- A client who listens to advice
- A client who’s ready to change and help in the development and growth of sports.
For further information on the Centre for Sports Law in Kenya