David Becker is the Head of Legal at the International Cricket Council (ICC). David sat down with us to discuss law, cricket and what will be keeping his team busy during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011.
Tell us about your professional journey leading into the ICC.
I began my career as an M&A lawyer at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. After that I proceeded to work in London, first as an associate specialist with boutique sports law firm Townleys and then as a partner with Collyer-Bristow. Prior to joining the ICC in November of 2007, Irepresented the likes of Ernie Els, David Beckham and Michael Schumacher.
As an experienced sports lawyer, how do you think the field has changed over the past decade?
Sports law today has evolved into a niche practice. The is largely due to the growth of the sports business. Many universities worldwide are now offering bespoke courses in sports law which has assisted in the development of the field, as it were. It is now a self-sustaining practice, not just for the passionate few but also for those looking forward to a challenging career. However, the number of specialists is still limited and hopefully will continue to grow through the next decade.
What are the challenges you expect from the coming World Cup?
With an event of this magnitude, there are multiple fronts that need legal protection. Especially considering the event is spread over 3 countries, there are various permutations and combinations that have to be looked into. Our primary responsibility is to protect the rights of our broadcasters, sponsors and partners who have made significant investments towards the tournament. This has to be done at every venue and at every game. Ambush marketing, protection of intellectual property rights, counterfeit merchandise and online piracy are just some of the avenues that have to be monitored. Given the variety of stake-holders involved, we have to ensure the tournament is conducted successfully and free from any controversy.
So what steps are already in place to safeguard these rights?
Considering the diversity of the tournament, we have a very thorough rights protection programme in place. It might surprise you to know that the entire process began as early as January 2010. Pre-tournament inspections have been carried out at each venue. The major part of the programme is to educate stakeholders, officials, organizers and volunteers on the protection of rights. Competitors of our sponsors have been provided with guidelines relating to the use of the World Cup brand and its related content, the use of tickets, the use of participating players and endorsements. Each venue will also have a team in place to monitor the matches. We have also engaged our rights protection partner to prevent and combat online piracy, mobile infringements and otherviolations.