February 03, 2017

ESIC Disciplinary Panel Becomes Operational with Formal Launch

As part of ESIC’s mission to be the recognised guarding of the integrity of esports and to take responsibility for disruption, prevention, investigation and prosecution of all forms of cheating, including, but not limited to, match manipulation and doping, today sees the formal launch and appointment of the ESIC Panel (‘the Panel’) in accordance with the ESIC Programme (‘the Programme’).

The ESIC Panel is defined in the Programme as, “a group of respected experts with esports and, ideally, legal experience to provide independent enquiries, investigations and rulings, including appeals, in relation to matters brought to its attention.”

The Chair of the ESIC Panel is the person appointed to chair meetings as well as to chair disciplinary panels when they sit to hear charges brought pursuant to the Programme. In July 2016, the ESIC Integrity Commissioner Ian Smith approached Kevin Carpenter to become the inaugural Chair of the ESIC Panel, on the basis that he was entirely independent of any stakeholders in esports, including ESIC, and is a legal expert in the field of sport integrity.

As part of his appointment, Kevin was tasked with putting together the first ESIC Panel. This was a unique opportunity given the non-traditional nature of esports and ESIC itself. It was Kevin’s desire to have a process and Panel which was not only fit-for-purpose but, in particular, satisfied key modern governance principles of independence, diversity, expertise, transparency and accountability.

To achieve this, it was decided jointly by the ESIC Integrity Commissioner and the new Chair to take a twin-track approach to achieving the optimum composition of the ESIC Panel.

First, there was to be an open and transparent recruitment process. The role description for such process was launched at the end of October 2016 with a closing date for applications of 15th November 2016. Some key points stated in the role description included:

  • Having experience of undertaking reviews, decision-making and/or risk assessments (i.e. there was deliberately no express requirement to have a legal education or background);
  • Having a working knowledge of the esports industry;
  • To be, and to be seen to be, entirely impartial and without prejudice in determining issues strictly within the framework of the Programme;
  • Adhering to a code of conduct;
  • Being accountable to the Chair and the ESIC Executive Board.

In the role description it was also stressed that express weight would be given to the diversity of the ESIC Panel and in addition consideration would be given to the continental/regional representation on the Panel given the truly global nature of esports.

In total there were 21 applicants, the quality and calibre of which were outstanding. Here are some of the statistics in relation to the diversity of the applications received:

  • 86% (18) applicants were men (18), whilst only 14% were women (3);
  • 95% applicants had legal experience/education (20);
  • 76% of applicants were based in Europe (16), 9% from Asia (2), 9% from North America (2) and 4% from South America (1), with no applications coming from either Africa or Oceania.

All applications were considered on paper, with no interviews being held, with the Chair making recommendations to the ESIC Executive Board as to who should be appointed to the Panel. All applicants were informed whether or not they had been successful on 28thNovember 2016.

The second route taken in relation to the composition of the new Panel was to invite selected non-legal esports experts to join the Panel. This reflected the desire of the Chair to be able to have wing members (i.e. non-chairing members) of Panels who could provide the expertise in relation to esports (a sport still in its infancy in terms of public knowledge). Four people were initially invited to join the Panel, with one having accepted up to today’s date.

Therefore, the inaugural members of the ESIC Panel as of today’s launch is as follows:

  • Kevin Carpenter (Chair) – Principal & Consultant, Captivate Legal & Sports Solutions, UK
  • Alfonso León – Sports Lawyer, Ruiz-Huerta & Crespo, Spain
  • Anna Baumann – eSports Lawyer, Independent, Germany
  • Daniel Schulte – Vice-Director, ESL (Electronic Sports League) League Operations, Germany
  • James Kitching – Head of Sports Legal Services, Disciplinary, and Governance, Asian Football Confederation (AFC), Malaysia
  • Lilia Russo – Director of Strategy and Engagement, IMG eSports, USA
  • Pedro Fida – Partner (Sports Law), Bichara e Motta Advogados, Brazil
  • Richard Bush – Associate (Sports), Bird & Bird, UK

The Panel members’ biographies are available on the ESIC website here:

Prior to the Panel becoming formally operational, it was agreed with the ESIC Executive Board, upon the Chair’s recommendation, that he conduct online disciplinary training via Skype to the seven members of the Panel given this was a new disciplinary body with a unique set of regulations (as set out in the ESIC Programme). Two identical sessions were run by the Chair on Thursday 12th and Friday 13th January 2017.

The Programme itself has been in place since July 2016 when ESIC was launched, and is currently under review with a new version due to be released in the coming weeks.

It is not known at this stage how many cases are likely to be heard by the ESIC Panel, however both the Integrity Commissioner and Chair are confident that a Panel and structure has been put in place which is unparalleled across the sporting disciplinary spectrum.

Integrity Commissioner, Ian Smith, said, “I am delighted with the excellent job Kevin has done assembling such a distinguished and able panel. It was very important to me that the panel was independent of ESIC and me and that I could not influence their appointments or their conduct once operational. This means participants who appear before them can be confident of a fair hearing without conflicts of interest or bias towards the prosecutor. This is key to one of ESIC’s core principles – adherence to principles of natural justice and, whilst I, of course, hope they have few cases to adjudicate, I’m confident that when they do, they will do so thoroughly and fairly.”