Should the law rule on the sports field?
THE ARGUMENTS FOR
The violent tackle on the Arsenal player Eduardo by Birmingham's Martin Taylor - resulting in a badly broken leg - would be construed as an assault if committed in the street. It is illogical that such an action should not be the business of the law, merely because it took place during a football game.
If two spectators come to blows in the stand, the police intervene. The same standards should be applied on the field.
Whether injury caused by a violent tackle is the result of intent should be a matter for the courts. If you knock someone down with your car, it is no defence to say you didn’t intend to cause an accident.
There are precedents for police action. In both England and Scotland there have been cases in which assaults committed by one player on another have resulted in a prison sentence.
More frequent prosecutions would result in better behaviour, less foul play and fewer serious injuries.
THE ARGUMENTS AGAINST
There are many acts in contact sports, such as boxing, rugby and football, which would invite criminal prosecution if performed elsewhere. This is in the nature of these sports.
Those taking part in such sports consent to such acts and accept the risk of injury, even death. In effect, all players have made a contract which protects them from prosecution.
So long as they abide by the laws of the sport being played, this contract is valid. If a man tackles you in the street and hurls you to the ground, he has committed an assault, but, if he does so on the rugby field, such an action is legitimate.
Accidents are inevitable in contact sports, but these should be no concern of the criminal law because of the terms of the contract governing players' participation. ·
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