Athletes‘ Rights: Indentured Servitude in Global Elite Sports – Rule 40 as a Textbook Example – Athletenrechte in 2018 (UPDATE)

Statement by the German Athletes‘ Commission regarding Rule 40

Rule 40 German Athletes' PositionRule 40 German Athletes' Position2


Info in English: An extensive article about rule 4O of the Olympic Charta and the decision of the German Cartel Office that changes need to be made to allow athletes to profit from the Games can be read below. The article is written in English and in parts written in note form. It was first published on on the 3rd of January 2018.

UPDATE – final decision by the Bundeskartellamt: „German athletes and their sponsors will have considerably enhanced advertising opportunities during the Olympic Games in future. The German Olympic Sports Confederation (Deutscher Olympischer Sportbund, DOSB) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) committed to the Bundeskartellamt to ease the advertising restrictions pursuant to Rule 40 No. 3 of the Olympic Charta.“

Changes made are:


Press release Bundeskartellamt

Why rule 40 also has to change internationally – you can read in the following article.

Short info in German: Ein ausführlicher Artikel zur Regel 40 des IOC und der Auswirkungen auf die Athleten. Was bringt die Entscheidung des Bundeskartellamts für die Athleten und warum die Diskussion nicht abreißen wird. Der Artikel wird auf Englisch veröffentlicht, da das Interesse im Ausland ähnlich hoch ist und Anfragen zu diesem Thema aus dem Ausland erhalten hat.

Global elite sports is currently going through the worst crisis of its’ history. But the current situation can also be seen as a opportunity for organizations to reform themselves or to renew them from the outside. To restore trust in sports federations and associations, changes are necessary to prevent continued exploitation of athletes, doping, corruption, bribery, fraud, sexual harassment to finally make federations more transparent. How is change possible?

Federations like FIFA, IOC, IAAF, NCAA and other international and national sports players generate millions of dollars for their enterprises. Although there is a huge investment of capital into elite sports and a noticeable professionalization, many of the expected benefits like: wage increases, (health) insurances, unionization, workers’ protection and investments into education of athletes (dual careers) are still often missing. To some extend similar situations can be found in Olympic, Non-Olympic, Paralympic movements as well as in US-college sports (NCAA).
In all of these cases still the weakest component is the athlete – the source of each performance. Sports organizations/ federations are powerful entities and are often independent from national regulation and control.

In many cases the gap between the revenue generated by the federations and what athletes receive has only increased. Although elite sports has changed on many levels, the situation of the athletes in many sports federations is grotesquely similar to the days when most athletes started their sports careers. In fact, the biggest differences for athletes nowadays, are that they travel more often and further, participate in more sporting events or games, risk more injuries, and have less possibilities in terms of pursuing a vocational training/ education or dual career (Zirin, 2017). So athletes can be seen as indentured servants of these entities, who signed a contract with the IOC, NOC or the NCAA by which they agreed to work for a certain number of months or years in exchange for transportation to the venues, training facilities and dorms and, once they arrived, food, clothing (in case of the Olympics – the clothes of their NOC’s supplier; in case of the NCAA- clothes of the Athletic Department’s supplier), and shelter (Olympic village / dorms). Many associations and their officials seem to be profit-grabbing cartels that with the help of rules like IOC’s Rule 40 or the NCAA’s Restitution Rule keep the athletes in a position of indentured servitude. Athletes have to start to examine the organizational and business side of their respective sports for example from the revenues they generate through merchandise, audience, social media and TV deals.

Weiterlesen „Athletes‘ Rights: Indentured Servitude in Global Elite Sports – Rule 40 as a Textbook Example – Athletenrechte in 2018 (UPDATE)“


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