Athletes’ Freedom of Expression: The Relative Political Neutrality of Sport

Abstract

Athletes are not just sports people; they are certainly among the most prominent figures of their present time, playing an important role in shaping opinions with their power to inspire. For this very reason, athletes’ freedom of expression is strongly limited by the sport authorities in light of the fundamental principle of sport neutrality. This study analyses and questions the traditional constraints to athletes’ free speech by taking into consideration the role of human rights in sports legal order and in sporting affairs. By assuming an emerging relativization of sport political neutrality, the essay investigates the case-law concerning athletes’ freedom of expression identifying limits and perspectives of the current evolutions on athletes’ public statements, establishing to what extent a reform of the present sporting regulation on freedom of expression is needed.