RENOWNED local sports lawyer Dr Emir Crowne is taking his passion for sport and law to another level with the launch of a sports law clinic with branches in TT and Canada.
Dr Crowne, who has been involved in a few high profile cases involving national athletes, said he felt compelled to found the clinic after observing athletes throughout the Caribbean at the mercy of some sporting bodies who operate via nepotism and strong-arm tactics.
“That is the reason for the clinic. I’ve noticed from my experience starting with Canadian sport and Caribbean, every sporting organisation — unless they’re challenged — they run like a little fiefdom, they run for just friends and family. And you have athletes who aren’t part of the club (of) friends and family and they get denied like team selection and funding, they get disciplined for all sorts of minor infractions and once it goes unchecked, that’s what keeps going on for decades until somebody stands up to them.”
Dr Crowne said the sports law clinic will be that shield to defend athletes’ rights throughout the region. Currently, Dr Crowne will be assisted by TT-based attorney Matthew Gayle and Toronto-based sports lawyer Amanda Fowler.
He is keen on acquiring a battery of lawyers throughout the Caribbean and North America.
“What we’re trying to do is build a roster of lawyers throughout Canada and the Caribbean to help with sports matters under my supervision...We have the website up (thesportslawclinic.com), a toll free number in Canada for athletes to call and a number in Trinidad. It’s (now) to get lawyers from Jamaica, Barbados, Bahamas to sign on. Right now we have two lawyers from Jamaica who’ve expressed an interest and we’re vetting them right now before they join on.”
He noted there are several sporting disciplines throughout the region that do not have a players’ association to support them and his sports law clinic could fill that gap.
“Among other things, we can advise on athletes signing contracts, endorsement deals and that type of thing. I know for a fact some sporting bodies before you take a trip or something, they make you sign all sorts of ridiculous agreements and waivers and it’s take it or leave it — ‘so sign this or you’re not going to Cuba.’ All those are things that athletes can benefit from advice and representation on.”
Dr Crowne anticipates an explosion of legal wrangling in the near future as athletes begin to fight for their rights, but he believes in the long run sport will be better served.
“What will happen initially is all of the issues that’s been going on for the past ten, twenty years, they will all come out and there will be friction initially because all of the bad blood will be revealed. But over time, what will happen is sport bodies will have to reform and they will have to get better governing processes in place, and in time, it is the actual athletes and the organisations themselves that will be better advised.” He believes the region has a tremendous array of talent that needs to be treated with equity and allowed to flourish.
“If you look at the Caribbean on a map, it really isn’t that significant a land mass, but when you consider the athletes the Caribbean has produced over the year, it’s astonishing. I think we need to foster an environment where athletes can flourish.
You want where athletes rights are respected and they can focus on doing their jobs and train two-three times per day. That is my interest and I think we need to encourage our athletes.” Dr Crowne will be holding a master class on sports dispute resolution on September 29 in Trinidad.