Economic Distortions: Infringing Human Rights in Sport

  • Wladimir Andreff
Part of the Palgrave Pivots in Sports Economics book series (PAPISE)


Economic distortions refer to those economic practices in the sports industry which, at the end of the day, infringe human rights of either some sport participants or workers of this industry. This chapter first covers the widespread economic literature about economic discrimination in sport, starting with different forms of gender discrimination. Then comes racial and ethnic discrimination, which extends to national origin and mother language (e.g. French Canadians) distinguishing between entry discrimination, consumer (fan) discrimination and labour market and wage discrimination. Human rights are also infringed with teenage player transfers below the age of 18 often dubbed as child snatching (a so-called Coubertobin tax is suggested here) and child and migrant labour in the sports industry.


Economic distortions Human rights Gender discrimination Racial discrimination Ethnic discrimination Entry discrimination Consumer discrimination Labour market discrimination Teenage player transfers Coubertobin tax Child labour 


  1. Anderson, D. J., & Cheslock, J. J. (2004). Institutional strategies to achieve gender equity in intercollegiate athletics: Does Title IX harm male athletes? American Economic Review, Papers and Proceedings, 94(2), 307–311. Google Scholar
  2. Andreff, W. (1988). Les multinationales et le sport dans les pays en développement: ou comment faire courir le Tiers Monde après les capitaux. Revue Tiers Monde, 113, 73–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Andreff, W. (2001). The correlation between economic underdevelopment and sport. European Sport Management Quarterly, 1(4), 251–279.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Andreff, W. (2004). The taxation of player moves from developing countries. In R. Fort & J. Fizel (Eds.), International Sports Economics Comparisons (pp. 87–103). Westport: Praeger.Google Scholar
  5. Andreff, W. (2006). International trade in sporting goods. In W. Andreff & S. Szymanski (Eds.), Handbook on the Economics of Sport (pp. 59–67). Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Andreff, W. (2010). Why tax international athlete migration? The ‘Coubertobin’ tax in a context of financial crisis. In J. Maguire & M. Falcous (Eds.), Sport and Migration: Borders, Boundaries and Crossings (pp. 31–45). Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  7. Arnaut, J. L. (2006). Independent European Sport Review. Brussels: UK Presidency of the EU.Google Scholar
  8. BBA and ILRF. (2008). Child Labour in Football Stitching Activity in India: A Case Study of Meerut District in Uttar Pradesh. Meerut: Bachpan Bachao Andolan and International Labour Rights Forum.Google Scholar
  9. Bellemore, F. A. (2001). Racial and ethnic employment discrimination: Promotion in Major League Baseball. Journal of Sports Economics, 2(4), 356–368.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Berri, D. J., & Simmons, R. (2009). Race and the evaluation of signal callers in the NFL. Journal of Sports Economics, 10(1), 23–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bodvarson, Ö. B., & Brastow, R. T. (1998). Do employers pay for consistent performance? Evidence from the NBA. Economic Inquiry, 36(1), 145–160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Brook, S. L., & Foster, S. (2010). Does gender affect compensation among NCAA basketball coaches? International Journal of Sport Finance, 5(2), 96–106.Google Scholar
  13. Bryson, A., Frick, B., & Simmons, R. (2013). The returns to scarce talent: Footedness and player remuneration in European soccer. Journal of Sports Economics, 14(6), 606–628.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Buchanan, J. (2013). Race to the Bottom: Exploitation of Migrant Workers Ahead of Russia’s 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. Human Rights Watch.Google Scholar
  15. Burdekin, R. C. K., Hossfeld, R. T., & Smith, J. K. (2005). Are NBA fans becoming indifferent to race? Evidence from the 1990s. Journal of Sports Economics, 6(2), 144–159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Carroll, K. A., & Humphreys, B. R. (2000). Nonprofit decision making and social regulation: The intended and unintended consequences of Title IX. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 43(3), 359–376.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Christiano, K. (1988). Salaries and race in professional baseball: Discrimination 10 years later. Sociology of Sport Journal, 5(2), 136–149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Cymrot, D. (1985). Goes competition lessen discrimination? Some evidence. Journal of Human Resources, 20(4), 605–612.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Dedecker, J.-M. & Lozie, F. (2002). Traite des êtres humains dans le sport. Rapport fait au nom de la sous-commission « traite des êtres humains » à la commission de l’Intérieur et des Affaires administratives. Sénat, Bruxelles.Google Scholar
  20. Donzel, J. (1999). Rapport sur le recrutement, l’accueil et le suivi des jeunes étrangers (hors Union Européenne) dans les centres de formation de football professionnels en France. Paris: Ministère de la Jeunesse et des Sports.Google Scholar
  21. Du Bois, C., & Heyndels, B. (2007). It’s a different game you go to watch: Competitive balance in men’s and women’s tennis. European Sport Management Quarterly, 7(2), 167–185.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. EC. (2007). White Paper on Sport. Brussels: European Commission.Google Scholar
  23. Foley, M., & Smith, F. H. (2007). Consumer discrimination in professional sports. Applied Economics Letters, 14(13), 951–955.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Fort, R., & Gill, A. (2000). Race and ethnicity assessment in baseball card markets. Journal of Sports Economics, 1(1), 21–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Frick, B. (2011). Gender differences in competitive orientations: Empirical evidence from ultra-marathon running. Journal of Sports Economics, 12(3), 317–340.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Frick, B., Pietzner, G., & Prinz, J. (2007). Career duration in a competitive environment: The labour market for soccer players in Germany. Eastern Economic Journal, 33(3), 429–442.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Gallo, E., Grund, T., & Reade, J. (2013). Punishing the foreigner: Implicit discrimination in the Premier League based on oppositional identity. Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, 75(1), 136–156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Goddard, J., & Wilson, J. O. S. (2009). Racial discrimination in English professional football: Evidence from an empirical analysis of players’ career progression. Cambridge Journal of Economics, 33(2), 295–316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Goff, B. L. (2018). Sports Economics Uncut. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Goff, B. L., McCormick, R. E., & Tollison, R. D. (2002). Racial integration as an innovation: Empirical evidence from sports leagues. American Economic Review, 92(1), 16–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Goff, B. L., & Tollison, R. D. (2009). Racial integration of coaching: Evidence from the NFL. Journal of Sports Economics, 10(2), 127–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Goyal, P. (2004). Child labour in the sports goods industry: Findings from a survey in selected bastis of Jalandhar. Social Change, 34(1), 66–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Groothuis, P. A., & Hill, R. (2004). Exit discrimination in the NBA: A duration analysis of career length. Economic Inquiry, 42(2), 341–349.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Groothuis, P. A., & Hill, R. (2013). Pay discrimination, exit discrimination or both? Another look at an old issue using NBA data. Journal of Sports Economics, 14(2), 171–185.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Gwartney, J., & Haworth, C. (1974). Employer costs and discrimination: The case of baseball. Journal of Political Economy, 82(4), 873–881.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Hamilton, B. H. (1997). Racial discrimination and professional basketball salaries in the 1990s. Applied Economics, 29(3), 287–296.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Hansen, A., & Andersen, T. (1999). Has discrimination lessened over time: A test using baseball’s all-star vote. Economic Inquiry, 37(2), 326–352.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Harris, J., & Berri, D. J. (2016). If you can’t pay them, play them: Fan preferences and own-race bias in the WNBA. International Journal of Sport Finance, 11(3), 247–261.Google Scholar
  39. Hill, J. R., & Groothuis, P. A. (2016). Is there a wage premium or wage discrimination for foreign-born players in the NBA? (Working Paper 16-11). Boone, NC: Department of Economics, Appalachian State University.Google Scholar
  40. Hoffmann, R., Ging, L. C., Matheson, V., & Ramasamy, B. (2006). International women’s football and gender inequality. Applied Economics Letters, 13(15), 999–1001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Humphreys, B. R. (2000). Equal pay on the hardwood: The earnings gap between male and female NCAA Division 1 basketball coaches. Journal of Sports Economics, 1(3), 299–307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Humphreys, B. R. (2006). Gender discrimination. In W. Andreff & S. Szymanski (Eds.), Handbook on the Economics of Sport (pp. 766–772). Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
  43. Jane, W.-J. (2012). Minority’s salary discrimination in the Chinese Baseball League. International Journal of Sport Finance, 7(1), 73–93.Google Scholar
  44. Jewell, R. T., & Molina, D. J. (2005). An evaluation of the relationship between Hispanics and Major League Soccer. Journal of Sports Economics, 6(2), 160–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Kahn, L. M. (1991). Discrimination in professional sports: A survey of the literature. Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 44(3), 395–418.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Kahn, L. M. (1992). The effects of race on professional football players’ compensation. Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 45(2), 295–310.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Kahn, L. M. (2000). A level playing field? Sports and discrimination. In W. S. Kern (Ed.), The Economics of Sports (pp. 115–130). Kalamazoo, MI: W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Kahn, L. M. (2006). Race, performance, pay, and retention among National Basketball Association head coaches. Journal of Sports Economics, 7(2), 119–149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Kahn, L. M., & Sherer, P. D. (1988). Racial differences in professional basketball players’ compensation. Journal of Labor Economics, 6(1), 40–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Kanazawa, M. T., & Funk, J. P. (2001). Racial discrimination in professional basketball: Evidence from Nielsen ratings. Economic Inquiry, 39(4), 599–608.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Keefer, Q. A. W. (2016). Race and NFL playing time. International Journal of Sport Finance, 11(2), 144–162.Google Scholar
  52. Klein, M. W. (2004). Work and play: International evidence of gender equality in employment and sports. Journal of Sports Economics, 5(3), 227–242.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Lavoie, M. (2000). The location of pay discrimination in the National Hockey League. Journal of Sports Economics, 1(4), 401–411.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Lavoie, M., Grenier, G., & Coulombe, S. (1987). Discrimination and performance differentials in the National Hockey League. Canadian Public Policy, 13(4), 407–422.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Long, J. E., & Caudill, S. B. (1991). The impact of participation in intercollegiate athletics on income and graduation. Review of Economics and Statistics, 73(3), 525–531.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Longley, N. (1995). Salary discrimination in the National Hockey League: The effects of team location. Canadian Public Policy, 21(4), 413–422.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Longley, N. (2000). The underrepresentation of French Canadians in English Canadian NHL teams: Evidence from 1943 to 1998. Journal of Sports Economics, 1(3), 236–256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Longley, N. (2006). Racial discrimination. In W. Andreff & S. Szymanski (Eds.), Handbook on the Economics of Sport (pp. 757–765). Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
  59. Madden, J. F. (2004). Differences in the success of NFL coaches by race, 1990–2002: Evidence of last hire, first fire. Journal of Sports Economics, 5(1), 6–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Medcalfe, S. (2008). English league transfer prices: Is there a racial dimension? A re-examination with new data. Applied Economics Letters, 15(11), 865–867.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Mongeon, K. (2015). A market test for ethnic discrimination in the National Hockey League: A game-level panel data approach. Journal of Sports Economics, 16(5), 460–481.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Nardinelli, C., & Simon, C. (1990). Customer racial discrimination in the market for memorabilia: The case of baseball. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 105(3), 575–595.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Pedace, R. (2008). Earnings, performance, and nationality discrimination in a highly competitive labor market: An analysis of the English professional soccer league. Journal of Sports Economics, 9(2), 115–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Poli, R. (2010). Le marché des footballeurs: Réseaux et circuits dans l’économie globale. Neuchâtel: Centre International d’Etude du Sport.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Poli, R., Ravenel, L., & Besson, R. (2016). Les mobilités internationales de joueurs mineurs dans le football. Neuchâtel: Centre International d’Etude du Sport.Google Scholar
  66. Preston, I., & Szymanski, S. (2000). Racial discrimination in English football. Scottish Journal of Political Economy, 47(4), 342–363.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Price, J., & Wolfers, J. (2010). Racial discrimination among NBA referees. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 125(4), 1859–1887.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Reilly, B. (2015). Labour market discrimination. In J. Goddard & P. Sloane (Eds.), Handbook on the Economics of Professional Football (pp. 238–258). Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
  69. Reilly, B., & Witt, R. (1995). English League transfer prices: Is there a racial dimension? Applied Economics Letters, 2(7), 220–222.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Reilly, B., & Witt, R. (2011). Disciplinary sanctions in English Premiership football: Is there a racial dimension? Labour Economics, 18(3), 360–370.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Sandy, R., Sloane, P. J., & Rosentraub, M. S. (2004). The Economics of Sport: An International Perspective. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Scully, G. W. (1973). Economic discrimination in professional sports. Law and Contemporary Problems, 38(1), 67–84.Google Scholar
  73. Scully, G. W. (1974). Discrimination: The case of baseball. In R. G. Noll (Ed.), Government and the Sports Business (pp. 221–273). Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution.Google Scholar
  74. Seuret, F. (2002). Nike ne veut plus passer pour un exploiteur du tiers-monde (Problèmes économiques, n° 2745). Paris: La Documentation Française.Google Scholar
  75. Shmanske, S. (2000). Gender, skill, and earnings in professional golf. Journal of Sports Economics, 1(4), 385–400.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Szymanski, S. (2000). A market test for discrimination in the English professional soccer leagues. Journal of Political Economy, 108(3), 590–603.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Tobin, J. (1978). A proposal for international monetary reform. Eastern Economic Journal, 4, 153–159.Google Scholar
  78. Tshimanga Bakadiababu, E. (2001). Le commerce et la traite des footballeurs africains et sud-américains en Europe. Paris: L’Harmattan.Google Scholar
  79. Van Reeth, D. (2015). Disequilibrium on the sports programmes market: The gender imbalance in TV coverage and TV viewership of the 2012 Olympic Games. In W. Andreff (Ed.), Disequilibrium Sports Economics: Competitive Imbalance and Budget Constraints (pp. 131–148). Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Volz, B. D. (2017). Race and quarterback survival in the National Football League. Journal of Sports Economics, 18(8), 850–866.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Wang, J.-S., Fang, P.-H., & Wu, T.-M. (2017). An inquiry into wage discrimination based on nationality: The case of the Korean baseball. International Journal of Sport Finance, 12(4), 359–385.Google Scholar
  82. Wood, G. (2011). TSMA assists the fair and safe working conditions. WFSGI Report, Verbier.Google Scholar
  83. Yang, C.-H., & Lin, H.-Y. (2012). Is there salary discrimination by nationality in the NBA? Foreign talent or foreign market. Journal of Sports Economics, 13(1), 53–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Zimbalist, A. (1997). Gender equity and the economics of college sports. In W. Hendricks (Ed.), Advances in the Economics of Sport (Vol. 2, pp. 203–223). Stamford, CT: JAI Press.Google Scholar
  85. Zimbalist, A. (1999). Unpaid Professionals. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wladimir Andreff
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre d’Economie de la SorbonneUniversity Paris 1 Panthéon-SorbonneParisFrance

Personalised recommendations