Recent Developments in Sports Law

The Sports (Amendment) Act 2018 (‘Amendment Act’) came into operation on 1 March 2019 together with the Sports Development (Licensing) Regulations 2019 (‘Regulations’) which were gazetted on 28 February 2019.
Among the amendments that were made to the Sports Development Act 19971 (‘Principal Act’) are the following –
  1. An amendment to the definition of ‘sports body’ disallows a company from acting as the governing or representative body of a sport in Malaysia, whether at district, State or national level;
  1. New provisions confirm the recognition of the Paralymic Council of Malaysia by the International Paralympic Committee as the National Paralympic Committee for Malaysia and set out its responsibilities;
  1. New provisions confirm the recognition of the Malaysia Deaf Sports Association by the International Committee of Sports for the Deaf as the National Deaf Sports Federation for Malaysia and set out its responsibilities;
  1. Section 20 of the Principal Act, which had hitherto conferred power on the Commissioner of Sports (‘Commissioner’) to revoke or suspend the registration of a sports body in seven situations, has been amended as follows –
(a) section 20(1) now permits the Commissioner to revoke the registration of a sports body only in the two situations set
out in the sub-section; and
(b) a new section 21(1A) permits the Commissioner to suspend the registration of a sports body in the five situations set
out in the sub-section;
  1. The abolition of the Sports Advisory Panel established under the Principal Act;
  1. The establishment of a new committee, the Sports Dispute Committee (‘SDC’), which is given the responsibility of resolving disputes that cannot be resolved in accordance with the internal procedures of a sports body. The SDC is also required to ensure that sports bodies and other parties to a sports dispute, including athletes, are given an affordable, just and speedy means of resolving a sports dispute.  New provisions provide for –
(a) the composition of the SDC, the tenure of office and remuneration of its members and the circumstances in which
the office of a member is vacated;
(b) the Minister of Youth and Sports (‘Minister’) to make regulations as may be necessary in respect of the SDC,
including the procedures to be adopted by the SDC in dealing with a sports dispute referred to it; and
(c) the procedure to appeal against a decision by the SDC; and
  1. New sub-sections have been introduced into section 36 of the Principal Act (which requires a company to obtain a licence from the Commissioner to be involved in any sporting activity2 or other activity as may be prescribed by the Minister) to provide for the following-
(a) the imposition of a fine of not less than RM50,000 and not more than RM500,000 or a term of imprisonment not
exceeding five years or both for the failure by a company to obtain a licence under section 36; and
(b) a right to charge, severally or jointly with the company, a person who was a director, chief executive officer, chief
operating officer, manager, secretary or was responsible for the management of the affairs of the company or assisting
in the management of the company at the time of the commission of the offence under section 36.
The Regulations set out the requirements to be complied with by a company in an application to carry on any sporting activity as required under section 36 of the Principal Act.  An application for a licence for a local sporting activity is to be submitted at least 60 days before the date of the activity, and for an international sporting activity, at least 90 days before the date of the activity. The form of application will be uploaded on the Sports Commissioner’s official website.

1 The Principal Act came into operation in Peninsular Malaysia on 1 January 1998 and in the Federal Territory of Labuan on 10 July 2003. It is unclear whether the Principal Act has come into operation in Sabah and Sarawak.
2 The expression ‘sporting activity’ is defined in the Act as (a) the organisation of competitions, seminars, clinics or courses for a sport; (b) the sending of participants to sporting competitions or events; and (c) any other activity ancillary or related to a sport.