The sports of today has been widely reported and mediated to be more violent than sports in the past and for this basis there is more vital need for the law to take place within sports. Sports participants are no longer prepared to accept that all their injuries are necessarily an integral and inevitable part of the playing of sporti. Where the person responsible is in the wrong, they are expected to get a form of punishment either from the Governing body or criminal law. Recklessness is to be understood in this context as to taken an unjustified risk.
Football and rugby have more than any sport attracted the most concerning amount of violence during games. The approach of violence on the game has been stated by Lord Lane "unlawful violence on the football field needs discouraging as much as violence on the terraces or indeed elsewhere". The participants of sports have some certainty that there is a risk of injury, although it is the rules which are imposed into sports which is said to avoid serious injury. They are a crucial guide in determining criminal liability.
Where there is no proof of intention or recklessness to injure, participants who cause injury to others within reasonable application of the rules of sport can rely on the victims consent to potential harmii . For example a foul tackle in a football game. In this essay I will explore and discuss argument for and against for Criminal Law on the sports field, by using relevant cases to make my arguments stronger. There is a strong argument against criminal law intervening within sport. Criminal prosecutions or civil claims arising from incidents which happen on the sports field were, until recently relatively rare.
Until recently were it has become a norm. There is now nothing new in players suing over there injuries. But shouldn't these sports injuries be left to the right professional body within sports to deal with. There is a famous legal maxim, volenti non fit injuria – no legal wrong is done to one who consents. So wouldn't it be fair to say a player consents to be a victim of conduct within the rules of the game that also includes being a victim of behaviour which is illegal by the rules but happens often enough to be a normal part of the game.
By players accepting this wouldn't it effectively mean fewer cases would reach court? This argument also applies to criminal prosecutions, courts should not have to prosecute players who know there is a substantial risk that in rough contact sports, tempers are lost and incidents do happen. This should be left to the sporting authorities to deal with. Through players expecting that in the heat of the action some contact will take place in contact sport, which might be dangerous and even serve. There is invariably no intent or recklessness towards resultant injury.
iii This conduct may well call for a penalty but not criminal charges. Although by having law intervene in sports, there is a problem of proving intention, were in some situations it may not be so clear that the act of one player against another is intentional, and that gives more reason to have the sporting body deal with sports, for example in R v Birkin (1998)the defendant was subjected to a late tackle during a game of football and struck the other player in the face, breaking his jaw, he was found guilty of ABH and sentenced to 8 months in prison.
The occurrence of late tackles during sports is regular foul which takes place. Most sports have their own procedures for enforcing the rules, so in this case I would say there was no need for criminal law to e involved. Regulation by the criminal law and the increased involvement of lawyers, for challenges in on-the-ball situations, runs the risk of adversely and irreversibly changing the nature and dynamics of organised sports. The Police have cautioned professional players for swearing, by intervening during the actual commission of the game.
These incidents have led to concern of who is in charge the referee or police? Through also having law involved there are problems for example in bringing a prosecution, there needs to be sufficient evidence and any prosecution must be in the publics interest. I would like to argue on the other hand that by having criminal law introduced for sport has a positive effect on the sports field, as the same aims which are used through the law to protect society are the same on the sports field.
Firstly to protect individuals and secondly to punish and deter individuals. In sports participants have big influence on their supporters and so they are seen as role models, which is taken in to consideration when dealing with violence on the pitch, as the violence by the participants may lead to violence within the crowd. This leading to prosecution for breach of the peace. As a general rule within criminal offences two matters must be proved, actus reus and mens rea.
The law protects players by imposing limits on what they can consent to. The law will take into consideration harm caused by acts and the value of the activity. Another advantage of having the law intervene in sports is that it imposes limits on the physical contact on which a player may consent to. If the act is committed intentionally or recklessly that will lead to criminal liability.
This was illustrated well in the case of R v Billinghurst (1977) Crim LR 553 were it was held that the defendant intentionally punched the other player and must had foreseen some harm. This injury was enough to be GBH. Players only consent to force that can be reasonably expected. In conclusion I would say that only when the force is clearly contrary to the relevant rules and outside the course of the game, should the criminal law justifiably intervene.