The Regulation of on-the-ball Offences: Challenges in Court

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Following the Court of Appeal’s judgment in R v Barnes it was argued that on-the-ball contacts in sport, in breach of the rules of the game, were unlikely to be classed as criminal. It was perceived that these types of injury-causing acts were not sufficiently grave to warrant criminality and were better regulated internally or by the civil law. However, the imprisonment of amateur footballer Mark Chapman, for an injury-causing tackle, has challenged this viewpoint. This paper will explore the incident in Chapman in the light of Barnes, and argues, that the boundaries of criminality in contact sports are increasingly difficult to ascertain. It will revisit case law concerning incidents of on-the-ball offences and assess whether the prosecution and subsequent guilty plea in Chapman could have been an anticipated outcome. Internal disciplinary mechanisms will be scrutinised to whether they can impact on the criminal law’s involvement. Finally the paper will put forward that the amateur status of the participant may have been a key factor in the resulting finding of criminality.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
JournalEntertainment and Sports Law Journal
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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