10 famous sport law cases in legal history

Sport is a multi-billion dollar business which every year brings a plethora of law stories. Here below, our international law firm details ten famous sport cases in legal history:


For decades many IOC members have been implicated in lawsuits over racism, corruption, doping cover-up, and of taking bribes in exchange for votes in the awarding of the Olympic Games and other big sports events to major cities across the globe. Investigations currently underway include Moscow (2013) Beijing (2015), Rio de Janeiro (2016) London (2017), Doha (2019) and Tokyo (2020).


Despite having declined to renew his contract, the RFC of Liege, Belgium, demanded a transfer fee for their former football player J. M. Bosman to join the club USL of Dunkerque, France. This together with restrictions on the number of foreign players a club could field impeded Bosman to move clubs. The European Court ruled that demanding a transfer fee after the expiry of a contract was incompatible with the principle of free movement of workers within the EU, adding that limiting the number of professional players from other EU member state was also precluded by the same Treaty.


One of the greatest scandals for match-fixing and illegal betting, known as Calciopoli, saw Italian Serie A teams like Juventus, Fiorentina, and Lazio being judged and downgraded, while AC Milan received a point’s deduction.

4 – FORMULA 1 – 2008

Nelson Piquet Jr, Brazilian F1 driver for Renault, intentionally caused an accident during the Singapore Grand Prix 2008, to allow his teammate Fernando Alonso to win the race. Piquet later denounced that he had followed instructions from his managers and the World Council suspended Renault´s F1 Manager Flavio Briatore to perpetuity, imposing also heavy sanctions on Renault and other members of the team.

5 – RUSSIAN DOPING  – 2011

Russia operated a state-sponsored doping programme for many years across the “vast majority” of summer and winter Olympic sports, being stripped off 41 Olympic medals, more than a fourth of the global total of medals stripped for doping violations.


Lance Armstrong, was judged on systematic doping charges by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and stripped off his seven consecutive Tour de France titles, in addition to being suspended for life from professional cycling. Several companies that had sponsored and paid him incentive bonuses also filed lawsuits to get their money back.


The signing of Neymar Jr by the Football Club Barcelona opened two legal issues. The first due to the club´s claim that the transfer cost € 57.1 million when the Prosecutor´s Office placed it at € 94.8 m. The second, by a demand for non-payment presented by DIS-Esportes, owners of 40% of the player´s rights. These imputations involved the player, the president of the club, ​​Josep M. Bartomeu, his predecessor in charge, Sandro Rosell, and the club itself.

8 – FIFA GATE – 2014

After years of investigation, the Swiss authorities presented charges against FIFA for bribery, fraud, money laundering, and other similar irregularities. The scandal forced President Sepp Blatter to resign his post and nine other high officials were also indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice for taking $150 million in bribes while awarding FIFA broadcast rights.


Many American football players suffered concussions during their careers, a traumatic brain injury caused by blows to the head that can develop memory and cognitive issues such as dementia, Alzheimer´s, depression and chronic traumatic encephalopathy. After over 5000 concussion-related lawsuits, the NFL (National Football League) agreed to compensate more than 20,000 retired players at a cost that surpassed $1 billion.


Marouane Fellaini, Belgium football player at Manchester United Football Club sued his sportswear supplier New Balance for £2.1 million in damages because his football boots impacted on his performance and caused him “loss of enjoyment, inconvenience and impact on performance.”  The case is up for study at the High Court in London.