Disciplinary Regime in Sports: Examples from Spain

In sports, the disciplinary regime aims to ensure a clean game. But how is it applied?
Disciplinary Regime in Sports: Examples from Spain

Last update: 23 October, 2019

In the sports world, the disciplinary regime sparks plenty of debates. The question of applying disciplinary action, as well as the concepts of infractions and sanction processes,  causes controversy that’s far from finding a sure solution.

A single post can’t tackle all of the legal and practical aspects of the disciplinary regime in sports. In light of that, today we’ll just focus on the aspects related to infractions and sanctions, in addition to the structure and dynamics of the disciplinary process in sports in Spain.

How is the disciplinary regime regulated in Spanish sports?

In Spain, the scope of action that determines the rules and ethics of the game includes gray areas. To ensure that games run smoothly, the disciplinary regime is in a separate field of its own and usually acts independently.

The disciplinary regime plays a role in everyday life as well, regarding the regulations on civil and penal matters that construct the majority of the work relations in society.

On the same line, the sports sector has its own judicial system as well. One of its pillars is the recognition of competent bodies. This pillar aims to regulate and promotes a judicial and administrative sanctioning system. The sanctioning system serves to address the infractions against rules or the basic principals of sports.

In that sense, differentiating the rules of a game or competition is essential as they vary depending on each sports discipline. On the other hand, there are also basic sports statutes that define the expected behaviors in professional sports settings.

Additionally, the guidelines that regulate disciplinary action in sports are currently outlined in La Ley del Deporte de 1990 (“the 1990 Spanish Sports Law”). More precisely, they appear under the 6th title starting from article 73.

Furthermore, the Real Decreto 1591/1992 (“Royal Decree 1591/1992”) was published two years later, adding to the previous guidelines regarding disciplinary action in sports.

disciplinary regime spain

Organizations that are accountable to sports authority

The laws that we discussed above state that disciplinary action belongs and applies to an administrative setting. Thus, athletes that commit infractions against the system must face disciplinary action from the administrative standpoint.

In that process, authoritative figures establish sanctions according to the case. Throughout the process, they consult with the sport’s current and general rules.

The organizations with disciplinary authority, which are generally the Disciplinary Committees, are responsible for imparting justice in the sports sector. In addition, they enforce a disciplinary regime.

But every country has its own sports disciplinary and sanctioning structure. Special organizations form these systems to analyze, rule and apply these infractions and sanctions. In Spain, the body that holds this authority in soccer is the Real Federación Española de Fútbol (or “Royal Spanish Soccer Federation“).

Furthermore, the Competition Committee, Appeals Committee and individual judges apply the disciplinary regime to professional Spanish Soccer. These judicial bodies base their judgment on the General Regulations and Disciplinary Code of the Royal Spanish Soccer Federation.

The disciplinary regime: infractions vs. sanctions

Infractions are actions that break the preset rules of a game or competition. Similarly, they can be actions that go against the ethical and professional conduct of professional athletes.

On the other hand, sanctions are penalties that the referees apply to a broken rule or norm. They can be fines, suspensions, temporary or permanent expulsions, etc.

Authorities generally set sanctions after completing an administrative analysis and review of the infractions.

disciplinary regime sanctions

Let’s take a look at soccer again as an example: the referees are responsible for signaling the infractions that a team commits as well as any forms of misbehavior that occurs during a soccer match.

At the end of the game, the arbitrating body must complete a report on the infractions of the match. They then send the report to the Competition Committee, who convene to analyze and review the listed infractions. Basing their decisions on the Royal Spanish Soccer Federation’s regulations (link in Spanish), they determine an appropriate sanction for the team and its players.

Afterward, soccer teams can appeal the sanction before the Appeals Committee, who then reviews the original infractions and sanctions. This example is a small glimpse into how disciplinary regimes act in the world of sports.

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