Last night Mind Sports South Africa (MSSA) received an enquiry from an esports athlete who although wishing to participate in the trials being held at MSSA's North West Online Esports Championships to be held on 27 August 2022 was told that he was forbidden to do so by his team's management.
This once again raises the issue of the principle of Freedom of Association which is enshrined in the South African Constitution.
The right to freedom of association, which is one of the cornerstones of liberal democracy, stems from a basic human need for society, community, and shared purpose in a freely chosen enterprise. It is an essential feature of (liberal or social) democratic society, protecting individuals from the vulnerability of isolation and ensuring the potential of effective participation in a society
In this case, the athlete was unable to produce his contract with the so-called professional team.
Without being able to review the contract, which is apparently held by the team, and not available to the athlete to beshown to third parties, MSSA is unable to express a comprehensive opinion.
While it is true that every employee must have a copy of their own contract, only if there is a NDA already specified in such contract, may the contract not be shown by the employee to third persons. However, it should be noted that, even if the contract does contain an NDA, the employee always has the right to obtain legal opinion.
Thus, in order to see if the employer is infringing on the professional esports athlete's rights apropos Freedom of Association, the contract would have to be reviewed as the contract may impose limitations on the athlete in terms of representation, participation in non sanctioned events, wearing of kit, receiving addditional remuneration, etc.
It is therefore vitally important that every professioinal player, when signing a contract, follows the following steps:
- Keep a copy of the contract, and
- Obtain legal opinion before signing.
So, if you are an esports athlete, and you do not ave a copy of your contract, please remember that you have a legal right to possess such. In fact, for an employer to not provide an employee with a copy of his/her contract is contrary to the Conditions of Employment Act and is a criminal offence.
All it takes to have a copy is for you to say to your employer, "Please provide me with a copy of my contract!".
It is that easy...