Sports Law

Second edition

by Mark James

Updates for Chapter 3: Challenging governing bodies before the Court of Arbitration for Sport

These updates were last reviewed in July 2013

Updates and Amplifications

3.3.4 Match fixing penalties

​The final stage of the spot-fixing litigation involving various members of the Pakistan cricket team was heard before CAS when Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif appealed against their respective playing bans of 10 years (of which five were suspended) and seven years (of which two were suspended) Butt v International Cricket Council CAS 2011/A/2364 and Asif v International Cricket Council CAS 2011/A/2362 (for comment on the criminal trial see below, 6.4.1). In respect of Butt’s claim, CAS held that it will not reduce a ban imposed by a competent governing body below the recommended minimum unless the decision taken by it was ‘irrational’. In this context, irrational was defined as being where the decision was self-evidently unreasonable or perverse (para.62). There was nothing irrational in treating match-fixing as more serious than betting on a cricket match, nor was the ban disproportionate in the light of the life bans imposed in other sports, notably tennis. As the ICC had already taken into account all of the mitigation put forward by Butt, there were no grounds on which CAS was prepared to interfere with the original ban.

Asif’s appeal was also dismissed, though on different grounds. CAS found that there were no failures of due process in the hearings before the ICC and that even if there were, these would have been cured by CAS hearing Asif’s case de novo. All of Asif’s exculpatory claims were dismissed as being either irrelevant or unproven as were his claims in mitigation on the basis that these had already been taken into account by the ICC. The CAS also pointed out that financial hardship was part of the point of playing bans and was supposed to operate as a deterrent to both the banned player and others from engaging in similar behaviour in the future.