Sports Calls and the Law

In January 2022, Roberto de Palma Barracco, LLM ’17, was appointed to the Court of Sports Arbitration (CAS). CAS is a dispute resolution institution, independent of any sports organization, which provides services to facilitate the settlement of sports-related disputes. CAS does not regulate sports directly, but its panels’ decisions influence sports regulators, from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA).

CAS steps in as a service provider to help parties solve:

  • commercial-related disputes in sports - for example, imagine that a soccer player and her intermediary/agent disagree about the commission fee;
  • disciplinary-related disputes in sports – for example, an athlete’s anti-doping rule violation when he ingested contaminated tea.

In addition to his CAS appointment, Barracco teaches at the Oregon Summer Sports Law Institute each year. “The Summer Sports Law Institute creates a safe space to study sports law,” Barracco said. “This is very rare in the [United] States and overseas. It’s also a place to show how sports law influences sports both on the local level and global levels like FIFA.”

As an arbitrator, Barracco must be appointed to serve on a case. Barracco explains that arbitrators are not employees of the dispute resolution institution, rather they’re independent neutral parties. He consults for a consultancy firm called Cambré | SE. He also splits his time as the Brazilian Soccer Association (CBF) National Dispute Resolution Chamber (NDRC) member and head of research, as well as CBF Academy adjunct-coordinator for legal and agency-related education programs. He also serves as a Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) Appeals Panel member and as a neutral to the Court of Arbitration for Art (CAfA), among other dispute resolution institutions.

A passion for sports and education leads to sports law career

Growing up, Roberto Barracco had dreams of becoming a diplomat in Brazil. As a longtime soccer player in both primary and secondary schools, however, his passion for sports and a legal career had always been present. As he approached his senior year of high school, he figured out that he wouldn’t play soccer professionally, and ultimately decided to attend college and pursue his LL.B. in his hometown, São Paulo. Today, Barracco holds multiple degrees and certificates from colleges around the world, is currently pursuing a PhD in Law at the University of São Paulo, and has a legal career in sports law.

His choice to further his path in law

Back in São Paulo when he was completing his undergraduate studies, he initially chose to study law because of the close relationship to his original dream of being a diplomat and working in a diverse cultural setting. Over the years he realized he loved studying law because it is everywhere, in everything we do, in any society we live in.  

In 2015, well into his legal career in São Paulo, Brazil, Barracco wanted to further his legal education as part of his MSc in Law and he was amazed by Oregon Law’s LLM program, faculty, and culture.

“I studied law and business, but I felt like there was a psychological component missing,” he shares. “At Oregon Law, Professors Jen Reynolds and Liz Tippett opened my mind about law and the relationship to psychology and society.” He delved into Professors Erik Girvan’s and Barbara Tint’s CRES classes, and believes that he has become a better legal professional by connecting law, business, and psychology in his practice.

To attend Oregon Law’s LLM program, Barracco would have to quit his job, stop practicing Law for a while, and leave his home behind in Brazil. To ease his long distance transition, he noted that Kristie Gibson from Oregon Law assisted him with making the right connections in Eugene – such as Claudia Groberg from the Oregon Department of Justice and former Duck. At the time he also connected with then-Oregon Law Dean Michael Moffit and was awarded a merit-based tuition remission scholarship. Oregon Law Eric Priest also nominated Barracco to the Global Corners award. These awards helped ease the financial burden of attending, and allowed Barracco to work with Oregon Law Robert Illig as a researcher. He earned his LLM degree in 2017.

While studying at Oregon Law, Barracco fell in love with the culture of Oregon and Eugene so much so, that he now returns yearly to teach at the Summer Sports Institute. “I have so much passion when it comes to working here,” he said. “It’s refreshing. This place shifts your mindset of ‘I have to do this,’ to ‘how do we make things better.’”