Sports Q&A - How are sports organisations dealing with athletes who breach Covid rules?
06 March 2021
How are sports organisations dealing with athletes who breach Covid rules?
There is no one way in which sports organisations have been addressing breaches of Covid rules. In rugby and cricket, players have been disciplined and issued with fines, written warnings and bans for breaching bio-secure protocols or other Covid rules, whereas in football, there has been some criticism that clubs have taken little or no action against those who have breached Covid rules, although players have been dropped from their national team. It is worth noting however that such issues are often addressed internally and the details of any disciplinary action might not be made public.
Are there risks if organisations decide not to take disciplinary action against Covid rule breakers?
Organisations could be storing up problems for the future if they decide not to discipline athletes who break the Covid rules. The way in which an organisation deals with breaches will set a precedent. If athletes are not sanctioned for breaching Covid rules, it will be harder for that organisation to enforce those rules in the future.
An employer should behave reasonably and consistently in its approach to disciplinary matters. If an organisation, chooses to punish some rule breakers but not others, the punished employees could have claims for unfair/discriminatory treatment.
Could an athlete have their employment terminated for breaching Covid rules?
Before deciding on a disciplinary sanction, the organisation should follow a fair disciplinary process, including giving the athlete a chance to respond to the allegations.
Are there reasons why organisations may not wish to discipline athletes for breaches of the rules?
Athletes are prized assets. Organisations will not want to be without star players for games, and may try to avoid damaging relationships with athletes (who often have lots of potential suitors).
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