We have extensive experience in a wide array of legal matters arising in the sports industry and have served as trusted counsel to leading professional sports leagues, teams, and athletes in litigation, arbitration, and other complex disputes.

We have also counseled clients in regard to capital markets offerings; mergers, acquisitions, and joint venture arrangements; intellectual property issues; and employee benefits and executive compensation matters, among other engagements.

Notable Experience

Corporate / M&A

  • Olympique Lyonnais in connection with a proposed acquisition of part of its share capital by the Chinese investment fund IDG Capital Partners.

  • Representation of a worldwide sporting federation in connection with the evaluation of the United States bid to host a major global sporting event.

  • Internazionale Holding in its exit from F.C. Internazionale Milano (Inter Milan) and negotiations with International Sports Capital; Inter Milan and its majority shareholder in an investment transaction as a result of which International Sports Capital HK Limited became the controlling shareholder of Inter with a 70 percent stake.

  • ISL Marketing (and subsequently, FIFA Marketing) in a joint venture with the United States Soccer Federation to exploit opportunities related to the 1994 World Cup.

  • Russian Tennis Federation in connection with a confidential matter.

  • Inner Circle Sports in the potential acquisition of AS Roma soccer club.

  • FC Bayern Munich, FC Barcelona, Arsenal, Manchester United, Juventus, Real Madrid, and AC Milan in connection with the possible creation of a football Super League.

  • Counsel in several deals concerning sports facilities, including the financing of Stade de France.

  • Former baseball player Mike Piazza in the acquisition of a majority stake in Associazione Reggiana Calcio 1919 S.p.A.

  • An investor in the acquisition of the Boston Celtics.

  • Suntory Limited, in its acquisition and subsequent sale of the Birmingham Barons baseball club (Chicago White Sox affiliate).

  • Major League Baseball in pension, employee benefits, and executive compensation matters; advised in the transfer of numerous franchises including the Montreal Expos, Florida Marlins, and Boston Red Sox.

  • The underwriter in the debt issuance in connection with the merger of the New York Yankees and the New Jersey Nets.

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Broadcasting and Intellectual Property

  • Canal+ in connection with French antitrust litigation with respect to alleged anticompetitive practices deriving from the purchase of exclusive rights to broadcast recent French films on pay-per-view television; and in the sale of its interests in Eurosport and Eurosport France to Société Télévision Française 1 (TF1).

  • Sky Italia on various matters, including:

    • in relation to an agreement regarding the license of cinema and TV series channels in favor of Sky Italia, the launch by Sky Italia of its own pay-TV offer on the Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) platform owned by Mediaset Premium, as well as a put option in favor of Mediaset for the sale of the DTT platform to Sky Italia (exercisable in the last months of this year);
    • in the investigation launched by the Italian Competition Authority into alleged collusion in the tender for Serie A football broadcasting rights for the 2015-2018 seasons, and in the successful appeal against the Authority’s decision to fine Sky for alleged bid-rigging;
    • before the Italian Competition Authority, administrative courts, and in private antitrust litigation in connection with the adjudication to SKY by the Serie A Football League of live satellite broadcasting rights for the seasons 2010-2011 and 2011-2012;
    • the awards of the Serie A’s TV rights for 2015-2018 by Lega Calcio, the governing body that runs the major professional football competitions in Italy, and the related contemplated disputes against TV company Mediaset;
    • the awards of the Serie A’s TV rights for 2018-2021 by Mediapro, an independent intermediary appointed by Lega Calcio (the governing body that runs the major professional football competitions in Italy), and the related litigation against Mediapro.

  • The International Olympic Committee (IOC) since 2002 on all EU competition matters, including:

    • the licensing of broadcasting and sponsorship rights and the sale of tickets to Olympic Games, and on the listing of live rights for free-to-air television in numerous countries, and in particular in the UK;
    • restrictions on the exploitation of image rights of athletes during the Olympic Games;
    • its first-ever tender for Olympic Games broadcast rights in Europe in 2004.

  • FIFA Marketing (previously ISL Marketing, owner of World Cup marketing rights) in connection with the introduction of the FIFA Approved and Inspected marks on footballs and a number of soccer-related licensing issues, including television, sponsorship, and supply rights.

  • ISL in connection with various exclusive agreements between ISL and sports associations (FIFA, UEFA, ATP, IAAF, FINA, etc.) transferring broadcasting and/or marketing rights of sports events to ISL and broadcasters and sponsors.

  • Marussia Formula 1 in connection with brand licensing matters.

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Global Sports Disputes

  • A Major League Soccer player in an arbitration against his footwear sponsor.

  • Hole In One International Association in successfully defending claim for prize money at a golf tournament held at Trump National Golf Club when tournament organizers improperly shortened distance from tee to hole.

  • Russian star hockey player Danis Zaripov in his CAS appeal for an IIHF doping suspension and his successful petition for entry into the National Hockey League.

  • Several former World Cup stars, including Sweden’s Thomas Ravelli and Italy’s Giuseppe Galderisi, in connection with contractual disputes against Major League Soccer.

  • An individual in investigations related to allegations of corruption within FIFA, soccer’s governing body, and representation of that individual in connection with U.S. proceedings.

  • A European executive in the financial industry regarding the ongoing FIFA criminal investigation involving both U.S. and European regulatory authorities.

  • The insurer of the National Basketball Association and National Hockey League in connection with numerous disputes, including two that proceeded to arbitration hearings against NBA clubs.

  • Various Russian sports federations in connection with the McLaren report on alleged doping violations.

  • The Heisman Trophy Trust in winning preliminary and permanent injunctions, before the district court and on appeal, against Smack Apparel Company as the result of its infringement of Heisman Trophy trademarks.

  • Mark Messier and the National Hockey League Players’ Association in connection with their successful grievance arbitration against the Vancouver Canucks relating to deferred compensation.

  • Confidential proceedings before the Ethics Commission of IAAF related to corruption and doping allegations.

  • Major League Baseball in pension, employee benefits, and executive compensation matters; and in the transfer of numerous franchises including the Montreal Expos, Florida Marlins, and Boston Red Sox.

  • The Grand Slam Committee, and The Lawn Tennis Association, The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, and Tennis Australia, before the European Commission and the High Court in London relating to alleged antitrust law violations brought by Adidas concerning the regulation of the size of the three stripes on the shirts of tennis players.

  • Ras Al Khaimah, one of the United Arab Emirates, in litigation concerning the selection of the location for the America’s Cup.

  • Inter Football Club in its win against Juventus. The Court of Appeal of Rome rejected Juventus’s appeal to revoke the Championship Title won by Inter Football Club.

  • ISL Marketing in successful litigation against Sprint for exceeding the scope of Sprint’s World Cup sponsorship category by producing a prepaid calling card bearing World Cup trademarks, which encroached upon the sponsorship category owned by MasterCard.

  • Italian First Division (Serie A) soccer clubs in appeals brought by five major clubs before the Court of Justice of the Italian Soccer Federation and before the High Court of the Italian Olympic Committee against the Italian Major Soccer League decision.

  • A Fortune 500 company in connection with potential legal disputes regarding a proposed stadium naming rights agreement.

  • Board of Governors of the Downtown Athletic Club (owner of the Heisman Trophy) in connection with DAC’s bankruptcy proceedings and related litigation.

  • Planet Fitness New York in a valuation dispute with its former chief financial officer.

  • The Trust, a vehicle established to benefit members of the NFL Players Association, in connection with certain player benefit related matters.

  • The Chicago Bulls in connection with federal litigation.

  • Several appellants before the Court of Arbitration of Sports in matters including doping and fraudulent dealings.

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Sports Arbitration

  • The Court of Arbitration for Sport is the world’s top court of appeal for all sports issues concerning federations that have recognized its jurisdiction.  Richard Kreindler, Jeffrey Rosenthal, and Romano Subiotto QC are members of the Court, and have arbitrated in over 150 cases related to doping, disciplinary, contractual, financial, commercial, labor law issues, and corrupt practices, such as vote buying, match fixing, and bribing.

  • Arbitrators in arbitrations concerning the Ladies Professional Golf Association and National Basketball Association.

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Publications