Saturday 24 February 2018

Owners of National Stadium won't rule out more MMA bouts

Portuguese MMA fighter Joao Carvalho (right) during the fight against Charlie Ward. Photo: Dave Fogarty
Portuguese MMA fighter Joao Carvalho (right) during the fight against Charlie Ward. Photo: Dave Fogarty
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

The owners of the National Stadium have not ruled out allowing further mixed martial arts (MMA) events to be staged at the venue.

As the fall-out continues following the death of Portuguese fighter Joao Carvalho, stadium bosses defended their decision to allow the MMA promotion take place at the weekend.

The stadium is owned by the State-funded Irish Amateur Boxing Association (IABA) and is frequently rented out for non-boxing events.

In a statement to the Irish Independent, an IABA spokesman said each booking of the venue was examined on a case by case basis. The IABA said it was satisfied the promoters of the event, Total Extreme Fighting, had appropriate insurance and security protocols in place.

Assurances were also received in relation to medical protocols and personnel.

The statement came as speculation mounts over whether Mr Carvalho's family will institute a claim for damages over his death.

In its statement, the IABA said: "Each booking is individually assessed and, before acceptance, the stadium management must be satisfied that external promoters have appropriate insurance and security protocols in place.

"All aspects of the health and safety of athletes competing at such events, including the sanctioning and regulating of MMA contests, is the responsibility of the event organiser. The National Stadium acted only as a venue facilitator for last Saturday's event.

"Prior to the event taking place, Total Extreme Fighting (TEF) gave full assurances that regulations would be adhered to in line with its own sports safety protocols. This included having three doctors, a paramedic team and an ambulance on site on the evening of the event."

The statement said it was awaiting the outcome of investigations into Mr Carvalho's death and did not wish to comment further.

Mr Carvalho (28) lost his fight for life in Beaumont Hospital three days after a technical knockout defeat to Irish fighter Charlie Ward on Saturday.

Questions posed to TEF and MMA's Irish governing body, the Irish Amateur Pankration Association (IAPA), regarding the arrangements in place for the fight night were not responded to.

Cesar Silva, CEO of TEF, has previously said the organisation would give whatever support it could to Mr Carvalho's family.

The IAPA has said it will participate in investigations into the fighter's death.

It is understood a post-mortem examination on the Portuguese fighter took place yesterday.

Leading sports lawyer Larry Fenelon said a lawsuit over Mr Carvalho's death was unlikely if he signed a waiver before taking part in his bout.

"In ultra-contact sports, such as MMA, where physicality is the essence of the sport, I would be highly surprised if the promoter didn't have the participants sign a waiver," he said.

"That waiver would usually limit or exclude liability for any injuries or fatalities that could occur to participants. Waivers are very hard to get over."

However, Mr Fenelon said there could be a case if it were deemed there had been a failure on the part of the referee.

The fight referee, Mariusz Domasat, has defended his officiating of the bout, saying it was stopped at the proper time.

"If the rules weren't broken and if the referee did what he ought to have been doing and if the promoter has ensured that the waiver has been executed by the participants, then it is a difficult case to make," said Mr Fenelon.

Personal injuries lawyer Sinead Carroll said proving negligence in sports cases was "tricky".

Speaking generally and not specifically about Mr Carvalho's death, she said fatal injuries actions can be taken on behalf of the dependants of the deceased, which for the purpose of Irish law can include their partner, siblings and parents.

Mental distress damages are capped at €35,000 but there is no cap on claims for loss of future earnings.

Irish Independent

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