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Richard Parrish

5 Sport and EU competition law In applying EU competition law to sport, the Directorate General for Competition Policy (herein referred to as the Commission) has been caught between three powerful forces. First, the Commission has a constitutional commitment to promote and protect the free market principles on which much of the Treaty of Rome is based. In this capacity it shares a close relationship with the ECJ. The ECJ’s rulings in Walrave, Donà and Bosman have played an important role in placing sport on the EU’s systemic agenda in a regulatory form. The

in Sports law and policy in the European Union
Author: Richard Parrish

The increasing commercialisation of sport raises important questions concerning regulation. The development of the European Union (EU) and the internationalization of sporting competition have added an international dimension to this debate. Yet sport is not only a business, it is a social and cultural activity. Can regulation at the EU level reconcile this tension? Adopting a distinctive legal and political analysis, this book argues that the EU is receptive to the claim of sport for special treatment before the law. It investigates the birth of EU sports law and policy by examining the impact of the Bosman ruling and other important European Court of Justice decisions, the relationship between sport and EU competition law, focusing particularly on the broadcasting of sport, the organization of sport and the international transfer system, and the relationship between sport and the EU Treaty, focusing in particular on the impact of the Amsterdam and Nice declarations on sport and the significance of the Helsinki report on sport. This text raises questions concerning the appropriate theoretical tools for analysing European integration.

Richard Parrish

linked to the EU’s legal framework, the Commission had not completed juridification by applying the EU’s competition laws to sport. Following Bosman, the Commission was compelled to respond. The initial post-Bosman relationship between EU competition law and sport was characterised by considerable confusion and great legal uncertainty. Usually acting on a complaint, the Competition Policy Directorate launched a series of high-profile investigations into the operation of sport in Europe. These investigations have included examinations into re-structured transfer systems

in Sports law and policy in the European Union
Richard Parrish

had an impact on a range of sports-related activities including: the cross-border transportation of sports equipment, the standardisation of equipment specifications, the commercial exploitation of the Olympic Symbol, the production and marketing of sports food, footwear labelling, quantitative restrictions on sport footwear and certification, testing and technical requirements. The third economic venue which sport became linked to concerned the application of EU competition law. Following the ruling in Bosman, this issue emerged as one of the most extensive areas

in Sports law and policy in the European Union
Richard Parrish

sympathetic approach to sport. The Commission has accepted the argument that restrictions on player mobility and restrictions on the ability of clubs to employ players without obstruction can be justified in terms of maintaining a competitive balance between participants. The Commission has therefore acknowledged the specificity of sport within the context of EU competition law and further defined the separate territories concept. Taken as a whole, the body of ‘hard’ sports law reviewed above does not amount to a great deal – hence the need to refer to the ‘birth’ of EU

in Sports law and policy in the European Union
Richard Parrish

some clubs leaving the federation and establishing a breakaway structure. Third, a tension exists between the requirement of federations to act as commercial bodies whilst at the same time promoting grassroots sport. Fourth, the commercial developments in sport have resulted in sports organisations changing internal rules to accommodate EU competition law. Fifth, some investment companies have expressed an interest in purchasing football clubs. Federation rules regulating multiple ownership may conflict with EU competition rules. Finally, due to the rapid

in Sports law and policy in the European Union