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Sports Arbitration Is Coming:Here’s What You Need to Know

Time:2023-04-29 13:05:59Browse:


In June 2022, the Standing Committee of National People’s Congress passed the amendment of Sports Law three readings. This amendment is the first major amendment of since China first passed its Sports Law in 1995. This amendment marks the official implementation of sports arbitration in China.

Part 1

The History of Sports Arbitration

in China

According to Article 33 of the Sports Law of 1995, the disputes arising from competitive sports activities are subject to mediation or arbitration by the sports arbitration institutes. The law authorized the State Council to formulate and enact the exact organizational structure of sports arbitration institutes and the scope for sports arbitration institutes. Although the State Council adopted a corresponding rule-making plan for sports arbitration institute in 1997, no substantial development was made in the following years.

The main reason for the slow development of sports arbitration was related to the character of the sports industry itself. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, most of the competitive sports activities were organized and sponsored by different levels of sports administration agencies and almost all professional athletes were registered and managed under regional sports administration agencies. Thus, a majority of the disputes arising from competitive activities were mediated by the national or regional sports administration bureau. The rest of the disputes were solved by the courts, who took a very reluctant attitude towards arbitration, and always overrode arbitration clauses by reasoning that no sports arbitration institutes were established.

When in 2010s several professional sports associations and sports leagues grown rapidly, several of them established dispute resolution committee with the name of “arbitration committee”【1】.These “arbitration committees” heard and decided disputes among their registered professional players, coaches, sports agents, professional clubs, and other relevant participants. Although they called themselves “arbitration committee”, and their rulings were bearing the name of “arbitral awards”, such institutions could not be considered as real arbitration committee under Chinese law. In May 2020, Beijing Chaoyang District Court sent a judicial advice【2】to Chinese Football Association (CFA), saying that the “arbitration committee” of CFA is not a sports arbitration institute under Sports Law and the “arbitral awards” made by the committee is not final nor binding. In the labor dispute between Beijing Chengfeng Football Club and its players, Beijing Second Intermediate People’s Court also ruled in a similar direction, by saying that the “arbitration committee” of CFA shall not be considered as an arbitration institute【3】.

Part 2

Latest Development of Sports Arbitration

Now, according to Article 92 of the Sports Law of 2023, sports administration bureau and sports associations can act as sports arbitrations committee in the following circumstances:

  • Disputes on disqualification, cancellation of scores and suspension decision based on anti-doping laws and regulations.

  • Disputes on registration and transfer of athletes.

  • Other disputes arisen from athletic sports.

In addition, all disputes that are subject to the resolution process under Arbitration Law and Labor Dispute Mediation and Arbitration Law shall be excluded from the scope of the above Sports Arbitration.

Based on the above provision, General Administration of Sports established the China Commission of Arbitration for Sports (CCAS) and published the arbitration rule of CCAS (CCAS rules) in February 2023. The CCAS rule provided some detailed provisions on the procedures of sports arbitration and addressed some key concerns on the characters of sports arbitration and institutional cohesions between sports arbitrations and other proceedings.


First, the CCAS rules【4】define the case acceptance basis for sports arbitration. The following rules or provisions can be considered for the acceptance of sports arbitration cases:

  • Arbitration clause in the contract.

  • Charters of a sports association.

  • Rules of a specific sports event or competition.


Second, the CCAS rules【5】define the relationship between CCAS and the dispute resolution systems within a sports association. The CCAS rule states that the parties have the right to apply sports arbitration if the parties are unsatisfied with the decision or outcome of a sports association or its dispute resolution system. CCAS rules confirms that the “arbitration committee” within a sports association is an internal dispute resolution system of that association【6】.


Third, the CCAS rules【7】state that all arbitration awards made by CCAS are final and bidning. The arbitral awards are enforceable through the relevant court system in accordance with the Civil Procedure Law.

Part 3

Unsettled Problems of Sports Arbitration

Although the sports arbitration rule is published and implemented, several problems are still unsettled and deserve further observations.


First, regarding the jurisdiction, the CCAS rules did not state the process for parallel litigations or arbitrations, nor provide a standard arbitration clause. Under the current CCAS rules, it is unsure if a case acceptance by CCAS will preclude the subject matter jurisdiction of any other arbitration institutes (e.g.: CAS). We can only observe the attitude of CCAS in the upcoming cases ruled by the commission.


Second, for applicable laws and rules, the CCAS rule has not mentioned any rules on the conflict of laws. The CCAS rule has not mentioned whether foreign laws can be applied or not in the cases held by CCAS. If foreign laws can be applied, the CCAS rule does not mention how will the ascertainment process work. In addition, the CCAS rule also does not mention if the rules of IOC, international federation of a single sport, or any other hard or soft laws of this specific industry can be applied or not, and how will these rules be applied. We can only observe the cases ruled by CCAS in the future.


Third, for future development, the CCAS rule has not mentioned if any branches will be established or indicate any regional sports arbitration institutes will be founded. If so, the structure, the jurisdictions, the standard arbitration clause, and the exact arbitration procedure are also worthwhile to be observed.

As of today, the official website of CCAS has not published any case brief or news. In this regard, the practice of sports arbitration still needs further observations. The dispute resolution team of Wang Jing & GH Law Firm will closely monitor the actions and trends of the Sports Arbitration and keep you informed in our following articles.

We at Wang Jing & GH Law Firm have a major department in cross-border dispute resolution. Our team members graduated from several highly-recognized law schools in Italy, the United States, the Great Britain, China, France, and Spain. All of them have abundant experience in representing clients in the court and arbitration tribunals in China and abroad on several proceedings which include seeking recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitral awards. Therefore, in case of any questions don’t hesitate to contact us.


【1】See the committee rules published by Chinese Football Association in 2009: http://images.sport.org.cn/File/2009/07/22/1127195194.doc

【2】See also the news report about the establishment of “arbitration committee” of Chinese Basketball Association in 2018: https://www.sohu.com/a/222555560_482938

See the relevant news report: https://www.thepaper.cn/newsDetail_forward_12328428

【3】See the court decisions under the Case No. (2021) JING 02 MIN ZHONG 8322, 8329, 8339, 8342 & 9629. (in Chinese: (2021)京02民终8322、8329、8339、8342及9629号)

【4】See Article 11-14 of the CCAS rules: https://www.sport.gov.cn/tyzc/n25137750/c25236364/content.html

See Article 15 of the CCAS rules: https://www.sport.gov.cn/tyzc/n25137750/c25236364/content.html

【5】We notice that the “arbitration committee” of Chinese Basketball Association has changed its name into dispute resolution committee correspondingly. See the official press release of Chinese Basketball Association in 2023: https://www.cba.net.cn/aboutwyhxw/4439.jhtml

【7】See Article 57 of the CCAS rules: https://www.sport.gov.cn/tyzc/n25137750/c25236364/content.html




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