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.
internationaltransfersystem and nationality restrictions with EU competition law, the Commission held the view in the aftermath of Bosman that ‘this
is not a reason for not taking into account the application of the competition rules’ (Commission of the European Communities 1996: 3).
Amendments to the internationaltransfersystem made by FIFA/UEFA in
light of the ruling in Bosman would therefore have to satisfy the
There can be little doubt that the functioning of international transfer
rules is subject to scrutiny by the Commission. International football
Belgian footballer, successfully challenged UEFA’s use of nationality restrictions and the internationaltransfersystem.
Walrave, Donà, Heylens and Bosman are examples of cases where the
subject matter just so happened to be sport. The well-established principles
of the free movement of workers and the freedom to provide services simply
became applied to sporting contexts. Although the ECJ did make reference
to the specific characteristics of sport, particularly in Bosman, the principles
were applied in a manner irrespective of the subject matter.
in Deliège and Lehtonen mark a more substantial application of the view expressed in Bosman. In Bosman, the ECJ
defined the operation of the internationaltransfersystem for football and
the use of nationality quotas in sport as falling within the EU judicial territory. In Deliège and Lehtonen the ECJ has identified selection criteria and
Sports law and policy in the European Union
transfer windows as falling within the territory of sporting autonomy. In
essence Deliège and Lehtonen establish that the rules which sports bodies
retain competence over concern
created. Nevertheless, the impact of Bosman on sport
had immediate effects (see for instance Morris et al. 1996, Miller 1996,
Gardiner et al. 1998, Beloff et al. 1999 and Caiger and Gardiner 2000).
First, clearly the internationaltransfersystem and nationality rules had to
be re-modelled. Nevertheless, the ruling does not directly affect transfers when
a player is in contract. The ruling only affects players who are out of contract.
Second, internal transfer rules remain only theoretically untouched by
Bosman because the ECJ decided to base the ruling on Article 39
rights of workers and
consumers within the EU. For example in 1989 the Van Raay report condemned the use of nationality restrictions and the internationaltransfersystem.4
The Larive report on the European Community and sport5
The 1994 Larive report was the result of a number of sports-related reports
stemming from the Parliament. These reports included ‘Sport and the
Community’, ‘Women in Sport’, ‘Vandalism and Violence in Sport’ and
‘Sport in the European Community and a People’s Europe’.6 The Committee
on Culture, Youth, Education and Media was responsible for the