note: Thomas Terraz is a third year LL.B.
candidate at the International and European Law programme at The Hague
University of Applied Sciences with a specialisation in European Law. Currently
he is pursuing an internship at the T.M.C. Asser Institute with a focus on
International and European Sports Law.
Christmas has come very early
this year for the EU sports law world in the form of the Court of Justice of
the European Union’s (CJEU) judgment in
TopFit eV, Daniele Biffi v Deutscher Leichtathletikverband eV by exclusively analyzing the case on the
basis of European citizenship rights and its application to rules of sports
governing bodies that limit their exercise. The case concerned an Italian
national, Daniele Biffi, who has been residing in Germany for over 15 years and
participates in athletic competitions in the senior category, including the
German national championships. In 2016, the Deutscher Leichtathletikverband
(DLV), the German Athletics Federation, decided to omit a paragraph in its
rules that allowed the participation of EU nationals in national championships
on the same footing as German citizens. As a result, participation in the
national championship was subject to prior authorization of the organizers of
the event, and even if participation was granted, the athlete may only compete
outside of classification and may not participate in the final heat of the
competition. After having been required to compete out of classification for
one national championship and even dismissed from participating in another, Mr.
Biffi and TopFit, his athletics club based in Berlin, brought proceedings to a German
national court. The national court submitted a request for a preliminary ruling
to the CJEU in which it asked essentially whether the rules of the DLV, which
may preclude or at least require a non-national to compete outside
classification and the final heat, are contrary to Articles 18, 21 and 165
TFEU. Articles 18 and 21 TFEU, read together, preclude discrimination on the
basis of nationality against European citizens exercising their free movement.
The underlying (massive) question here is whether these provisions can be
relied on by an amateur athlete against a private body, the DLV.
Covered in a previous blog, the Advocate General’s (AG) opinion addressed the case from an
entirely different angle. Instead of tackling the potentially sensitive
questions attached with interpreting the scope of European citizenship rights,
the opinion focused on the application of the freedom of establishment because
the AG found that participation in the national championships was sufficiently
connected to the fact Mr. Biffi was a professional trainer who advertised his
achievements in those competitions on his website. Thus, according to the AG,
there was a sufficient economic factor to review the case under a market freedom.
The CJEU, in its decision, sidelined this approach and took the application of
European citizenship rights head on.
The following will dissect the
Court’s decision by examining the three central legal moves of the ruling: the
general applicability of EU law to amateur sport, the horizontal applicability
of European citizenship rights, and justifications and proportionality
requirements of access restrictions to national competitions. More...
Editor’s note: Thomas Terraz is a third
year LL.B. candidate at the International and European Law programme at The
Hague University of Applied Sciences with a specialisation in European Law.
Currently he is pursuing an internship at the T.M.C. Asser Institute with a
focus on International and European Sports Law.
To many it may seem obvious that athletes in a national
championship should only be able to participate if they have the nationality of
the relevant state. The Dutch Road Cycling National Championships should have
Dutch cyclists, and the German Athletics Championships should have German athletes
and so forth. However, in reality, foreign competitors are allowed to
participate in many national championships in the EU, and there is a wide
discrepancy between the rules of national sport governing bodies on this issue.
There is no unified practice when investigating this point by country or by
sport, and rules on participation range from a complete ban on foreign
competitors to absolutely no mention of foreign athletes.
Thus, the question arises: should foreign athletes be able to participate in
national sport championships?
The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) will soon
be required to provide an, at least partial, answer to this dilemma as a result
of an application for a preliminary
ruling. A German Court has
referred three questions to the CJEU on the case TopFit e.V. Daniele Biffi v
Deutscher Leichtathletikverband e.V. (DLV) which in essence ask whether EU
citizenship rights and in particular, the requirement of non-discrimination on
the basis of nationality, should be applied to non-nationals wishing to
participate in an athletics national championship in Germany. In the meantime,
the Advocate General (AG), who provides a non-binding opinion to the Court
before a decision is delivered, Evgeni Tanchev has delivered an interesting opinion on the case. It addresses the claims from the applicants
based on EU citizenship rights and urges the CJEU to instead review the case on
the basis of the freedom of establishment.
This blog will dissect the AG’s opinion to assess the main
arguments put forward in relation to freedom of establishment and EU
citizenship. Furthermore, it will weigh the ramifications this case may have on
the boundaries of EU law in relation to sport. To fully appreciate the AG’s
opinion, it is necessary to first discuss the intriguing factual and legal
background colouring this case. After all, this will not be the first time the CJEU
faces thorny issues concerning discrimination on the basis of nationality and sport. More...
Editor’s note: Sven Demeulemeester and Niels Verborgh
are sports lawyers at the Belgium law firm, Altius.
16 November 2018 judgment, the Court of Justice of the
European Free Trade Association States (the EFTA Court) delivered its eagerly
awaited ruling in the case involving Henrik Kristoffersen and the Norwegian Ski
On 17 October
2016, Kristoffersen had taken the NSF to the Oslo District Court over the
latter’s refusal to let the renowned alpine skier enter into a sponsorship with
Red Bull. At stake were the commercial markings on his helmet and headgear in
races organised under the NSF’s umbrella. The NSF refused this sponsorship because
it had already granted the advertising on helmet and headgear to its own main
sponsor, Telenor. Kristoffersen claimed before the Oslo District Court, that the
NSF should be ordered to permit him to enter into an individual marketing
contract with Red Bull. In the alternative, Kristoffersen claimed damages up to
a maximum of NOK 15 million. By a letter of 25
September 2017, the Oslo District Court referred several legal questions to the
EFTA Court in view of shedding light on the compatibility of the rules that the
NSF had invoked with EEA law.
If rules do not relate to the conduct of the
sport itself, but concern sponsorship rights and hence an economic activity,
these rules are subject to EEA law. The EFTA Court ruling is important in that
it sets out the framework for dealing with - ever more frequent - cases in
which an individual athlete’s endorsement deals conflict with the interest of
the national or international sports governing bodies (SGBs) that he or she
represents in international competitions.More...
Editor's Note: Christopher is an editor of the Asser International Sports Law Blog. His research interests cover a spectrum of sports law topics, with a focus on financial regulatory disputes, particularly in professional football, a topic on which he has regularly lectured at the University of the West of England.
It is five years since the Union of
European Football Associations (UEFA) formally introduced ‘Financial Fair Play’
(FFP) into European football through its Club
Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations, Edition 2012. With FFP having now been in
place for a number of years, we are in a position to analyse its effect, its
legality, and how the rules have altered over the last half decade in response
to legal challenges and changing policy priorities. This article is split into
three parts: The first will look at the background, context and law applicable
to FFP; Part Two will look at the legal challenges FFP has faced; and Part
Three will look at how FFP has iteratively changed, considering its normative
impact, and the future of the rules. More...
Editor’s note: Kester
Mekenkamp is an LL.M. student in European Law at Leiden University and an
intern at the ASSER International Sports Law Centre. This blog is, to a great
extent, an excerpt of his forthcoming thesis, which he shall submit in order to
complete his master’s degree.
This final blog aims to provide some broader
perspective, by sketching first the grander scheme in which Article 19 RSTP –
FIFA's provision on the protection of minors – operates. Thereafter, the focus will
shift towards testing Article 19 RSTP, thereby keeping in mind the previous
blogs (Part 1: The Early Years and Part 2: The 2009 reform and its aftermath), against EU free movement law.
Putting Article 19 RSTP into perspective: The bigger
After having investigated the nuts and bolts of FIFA’s
provision on the protection of minors in the first two parts of this blog, it
might be useful to address its bigger picture.
19 RSTP and its accompanying provisions regulate only a small share of the targeted
activity. There is, unfortunately, also an illegal
world. Circumvention of the prohibition is allegedly commonplace.
Visas and passports can be falsified.
Work permits can be obtained on the basis of jobs arranged by clubs.
Editor’s note: Kester Mekenkamp is an LL.M. student in European Law
at Leiden University and an intern at the ASSER International Sports Law Centre.
This blog is, to a great extent, an excerpt of his forthcoming thesis, which he
shall submit in order to complete his master’s degree.
This is the
second part of a three-piece blog on FIFA’s provision on the protection of
minors, Article 19 of the Regulations
on the Status and Transfer of Players. The contribution in its entirety aims to provide
an encompassing overview of the rule’s lifespan since its inception in 2001. The previous
(first) part has shed light on the “birth” and “first years” of the provision, and
as such illustrated the relevant developments from 2001 till 2009. This second
part covers the rule’s “adolescent years”, which span from 2009 to the present.
The major changes put forward in the 2009, 2015 and 2016 versions of the RSTP
will be addressed. Thereafter the important CAS decisions concerning Article
19, Muhic, Vada I and II, FC Barcelona, RFEF, and the FIFA decisions relating to Real Madrid and Atlético
Madrid, will be scrutinized. The third, and final, part will constitute a
substantive assessment of the provision under EU Internal Market law.
Given that the
version adopted in 2008 left Article 19 untouched, the 2009 RSTP
represented the next significant step in the regulation of the protection of
minors. It had become clear that the system as used up to that point was
inadequate to achieve its goal,
most notably because several national associations still neglected to strictly
apply the rules. More...
Editor’s note: Kester Mekenkamp is an LL.M. student in European Law
at Leiden University and an intern at the ASSER International Sports Law
Centre. This blog is, to a great extent, an excerpt of his forthcoming master
On 24 November
2016, a claim was
lodged before a Zurich commercial court against FIFA’s transfer regulations by
a 17-year-old African football player.
The culprit, according to the allegation: The provision on the protection of
minors, Article 19 of the Regulations
for the Status and Transfer of Players.
The claimant and his parents dispute the validity of this measure, based on the
view that it discriminates between football players from the European Union and
those from third countries. Besides to Swiss cartel law, the claim is
substantiated on EU citizenship rights, free movement and competition law. Evidently,
it is difficult to assess the claim’s chance of success based on the sparse information
provided in the press.
Be that as it may, it does provide for an ideal (and unexpected) opportunity to
delve into the fascinating subject of my master thesis on FIFA’s regulatory
system aimed at enhancing the protection of young football players and its
compatibility with EU law. This three-part blog shall therefore try to provide
an encompassing overview of the rule’s lifespan since its inception in 2001. More...
Editor's note: Marine Montejo is a graduate from the College of
Europe in Bruges and is currently an intern at the ASSER International Sports
The result of the Brexit referendum on 23
June 2016 took the European Union (almost) by surprise. A lot has been said and
written about the impact of the United Kingdom leaving the EU. As in all other
areas, the British sport sector will also face the effects of the modification
of the relationship between the EU and its (probable) former Member State, the
UK. It is nearly impossible to foresee all consequences as the UK has not even
triggered article 50 TFEU yet to officially start the exit negotiations.
However, as the UK position toward the EU will change in any case, this two-part
blog aims to examine the main practical implications of such an exit for the
UK, but also for the EU, in relation to the actual application of EU law in
sport and the EU sport policy.
Unless stated otherwise, the use of the
terms Brexit in this blog should be understood as a complete exit of the UK
from the European Union. This blog focus in particular on this worst case
scenario and its consequences for UK sport. However, it is highly improbable
that the future Brexit negotiations with the EU will end up without some kind
of special agreement between the two parties the first of which being an EEA
type of agreement with full access to the internal market and applicability of
The first part of this blog will examined
the consequences for UK sport in terms of access to the EU internal market and
the applicability of free movement principles. The second part is focused on specific
impacts with regard of others domain of EU law for professional and grassroots
UK sport. More...
Editor's note: This is a short introduction written for the special Issue of the Maastricht Journal of European and Comparative Law celebrating the 20 years of the Bosman ruling and dedicated to the new frontiers of EU law and Sport (the articles are available here). For those willing to gain a deeper insight into the content of the Issue we organize (in collaboration with Maastricht University and the Maastricht Journal) a launching event with many of the authors in Brussels tomorrow (More info here).More...
to the legitimate excitement over the recent Pechstein
ruling, many have overlooked a previous German decision
rendered in the Wilhelmshaven SV case
(the German press did report on the decision here
The few academic commentaries (see here
focused on the fact that the German Court had not recognized the res judicata effect of a CAS award.
Thus, it placed Germany at the spearhead of a mounting rebellion against the legitimacy
of the CAS and the validity of its awards. None of the commentators weighed in
on the substance of the decision, however. Contrary to the Court in Pechstein, the judges decided to evaluate
the compatibility of the FIFA rules on training compensations with the EU free
movement rights. To properly report on the decision and assess the threat it
may constitute for the FIFA training compensation system, we will first
summarize the facts of the case (I), briefly explicate the mode of functioning
of the FIFA training compensation system (II), and finally reconstruct the
reasoning of the Court on the compatibility of the FIFA rules with EU law