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Tom Durbin

on 1 March 2017

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Why does the law stop at the touchline
Consent in Sport
Consent to Violence in sport
So the blur is such that we don't know how much we consent to
When a player goes out to the football pitch or cricket field, what are they consenting to?

In football do you consent to a broken leg when being tackled and
In cricket a broken nose from a cricket ball?
... but how about being punched in the face or having your eye’s gauged out?
R v Bradshaw (1878) 14 Cox 83.
What does the law say?
A football (soccer) player struck another player in the abdomen with his knee. The victim died and a charge of manslaughter resulted.

The Court found the player ‘not guilty’ as he had been playing within the rules of the game and at the time the incident occurred the referee had seen nothing to indicate the rules of the game had been broken. The death of the player was found to have been accidental.
R v Billinghurst [1978] Crim LR 553.
During a rugby match and in an off-the-ball incident Billinghurst punched an opposing player, in the face fracturing the jaw.

Billinghurst was charged with inflicting grievous bodily harm contrary to s20 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861.

The only issue in the case was consent.

Evidence was given by the victim that on previous occasions he had been punched and had himself punched opponents on the rugby field, and by a defence witness, a former International rugby player, that in the modern game of rugby punching is the rule rather than the exception.
The judge directed the jury that rugby was a game of physical contact necessarily involving the use of force and that players are deemed to consent to force "of a kind which could reasonably be expected to happen during a game."

He went on to direct them that a rugby player has no unlimited licence to use force and that "there must obviously be cases which cross the line of that to which a player is deemed to consent."

A distinction which the jury might regard as decisive was that between force used in the course of play and force used outside the course of play. The judge told the jury that by their verdict they could set a standard for the future.

The jury, by a majority verdict of 11 to 1, convicted B.
R v Billinghurst [1978] Crim LR 553.
Therefor we consent to Aggression and that which is good for the sport but not violence?

Difference between violence and agression?
Why did Billinghhurst & Bradshaw find in this way?
Sport is deemed good for society

Competition is healthy

Sport is healthy

Restriction is not in the powers of the courts, regulations exist within individual sports
Zidane at the World Cup
Following headbutt Zidane claimed in 2010 that he "would rather die" than apologize to Matterazzi

Fined $5,000
Salary at the time: $200,000 per week

Banned for 3 games
Prior to match he stated he was retiring and this was his last match
Violence is said to be the use of excessive physical force, which causes or had obvious potential to cause harm or destruction.

Aggression is a verbal action or physical grounded in an intent to dominate, control or do harm to another person.
How do we tell the difference?
In 1996, there was a study done by the University of North Carolina that indicated that many high school athletes in that state believe on-field intimidation and violence are normal parts of sports.

Edgar Shields, a professor of exercise and sport science, conducted a study of more than 2,000 male and female athletes in a broad range of sports showed 80.7 % accepted intimidation and 44.9 % accepted on-field violence as a part of the game, even though 56. 4 % thought physical, verbal or gestures was bad sportsmanship
Our Law Today - the consent test - R v Barnes [2005] 2 All ER 113
Does the sport have its own regulatory body

Is the conduct is sufficiently grave to be properly categorised as criminal

Contact sports, including football, are exceptions on public policy grounds, to the general rule that consent is no defence to bodily harm; implied consent exists where the situation is within what can reasonably be expected.

All the circumstances must be considered to determine whether the conduct is criminal.
Conduct within the rules is unlikely to be criminal.
Conduct outside the rules may not be, if it accords with the way the game is conventionally played.
If intentional no consent only reckless
If ‘off the ball’ unlikely to succeed
Rick taking that is objectively unreasonable more likely to be criminal
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