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Sporting Justice by Ian Hewitt

Release date: 29th May, 2009
Publisher: Sports Books Ltd

List Price: £18.99
Our Price: £11.69
You Save: £7.3 (38%)
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Sporting Justice: 101 Sporting Encounters with the Law
By Ian Hewitt
Sports Books Ltd price: £11.69, saving 35% on rrp

Although it hardly enjoys regular prominence on the sports pages - understandable as it's impossible to predict when the next case will arise - the frequency with which legal redress is sought in sport-related matters, or by prominent sports people, is surprisingly high. Only this week, PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor launched a claim for libel against a national newspaper, while last month, the legal rights and wrongs of Hillsborough were given another airing twenty years after the tragedy occurred.

Solicitor Ian Hewitt, who sits on the management committee of the Wimbledon Championships and is a member of the British Association of Sport and Law, has written a fascinating account of 101 instances where sport and the law have come into occasionally brief, but often prolonged, contact.

Given many sport's often labyrinthine rules, the opportunities for wrong-doing are obvious. These range from plain cheating - be it in the form of drug-taking, throwing matches, or other more straight forward examples of corruption, to instances where employment law has been under the spotlight - think Bosman, Tevez or, for silver-haired readers, George Eastham. It helps enormously that Hewitt provides readers with comprehensive details of each case, outlining 'for' and 'against' summaries, ideal for non-lawyers.

Not surprisingly, most of the headline-grabbing cases, from Eric Cantona's notorious kung-fu attack on a Crystal palace fan in 1995, to Lester Piggott's ultimately unsuccessful wrangling with tax inspectors are included. Examples of match-fixing abound, as do legal challenges, such as that from 100m drugs cheat Ben Johnson who appealed against his lifetime ban on the grounds that it represented a restraint of trade. There is the case of a former Wimbledon finalist found guilty of committing murder, while the author's personal favourite is an account of a disgruntled Leicester City fan who sued a referee for shock suffered as a result of the official's penalty decision in the last minute of extra time in an FA Cup tie.

Professional sport has always had its shadowy side, where instances of illegal betting, bribery, deliberate negligence, doping and irregular financial deals have been widespread. To believe this does not go on today, particularly when so much cash has been pumped into sport, is naive in the extreme. Hewitt's book reminds us that sport's dodgy characters are never far away.

Football fans who recall the infamous Batty v Le Saux on-field scrap will be interested to hear what Hewitt writes about the law's involvement when team mates start brawling, while rugby enthusiasts are given much food for thought regarding a referees' duty of care when overseeing the scrum.

Those who imagine the appearance of lawyers in the sporting arena is a comparatively new phenomenon will be in for a few shocks, for solicitors, like the poor, are always with us - as this excellent book makes abundantly clear.

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