Commission’s competition decisions in the area of sport, which set out broad
principles regarding the interface between sports-related activities and EU
competition law, are widely publicized. As a result of the decentralization of
EU competition law enforcement, however, enforcement activity has largely
shifted to the national level. Since 2004, national competition authorities
(NCAs) and national courts are empowered to fully apply the EU competition
rules on anti-competitive agreements (Article 101 TFEU) and abuse of a dominant
position (Article 102 TFEU).
NCAs and national courts have addressed a series of interesting competition
cases (notably dealing with the regulatory aspects of sport) during the last
ten years, the academic literature has largely overlooked these developments.
This is unfortunate since all stakeholders (sports organisations, clubs,
practitioners, etc.) increasingly need to learn from pressing issues arising in
national cases and enforcement decisions. In a series of blog posts we will
explore these unknown territories of the application of EU competition law to
In this second installment of this blog series, we discuss a recent
judgment of the regional court (Landgericht) of Dortmund finding that the
International Handball Federation (IHF)’s mandatory release system of players
for matches of national teams without compensation infringes EU and German
competition law. More...
The year is coming to an end and it
has been a relatively busy one for the CAS Ad Hoc divisions. Indeed, the Ad Hoc
division was, as usual now since the Olympic Games in Atlanta in 1996,
settling “Olympic” disputes during the Winter Olympics in Sochi. However,
it was also, and this is a novelty, present at the Asian Games 2014 in Incheon. Both divisions have had to deal with seven (published)
cases in total (four in Sochi and three in Incheon). The early commentaries
available on the web (here,
have been relatively unmoved by this year’s case law. Was it then simply ‘business
as usual’, or is there more to learn from the 2014 Ad Hoc awards? Two different
dimensions of the 2014 decisions by the Ad Hoc Division seem relevant to elaborate on : the jurisdiction quandary (part. 1) and the selection
drama (part. 2). More...
On 6 October 2014, the
CAS upheld the appeal filed by the former General Secretary of the World Karate
Federation (WKF), George Yerolimpos, against the 6 February 2014 decision of
the WKF Appeal Tribunal. With the award, the CAS confirmed a six-months
membership suspension imposed upon the Appellant by the WKF Disciplinary
Tribunal. At a first glance, the
case at issue seems to be an ordinary challenge of a disciplinary sanction
imposed by a sports governing body. Nevertheless, this appeal lies at the heart
of a highly acrimonious political fight for the leadership of the WKF, featuring
two former ‘comrades’: Mr Yerolimpos and
Mr Espinos (current president of WKF). As the CAS puts it very lucidly, "this
is a story about a power struggle within an international sporting body", a story reminding the Saturn devouring his son myth.
This case, therefore, brings
the dirty laundry of sports politics to the fore. Interestingly enough, this
time the CAS does not hesitate to grapple with the political dimension of the case. More...
Yesterday, the European Commission stunned the
European Sports Law world when it announced unexpectedly that it had signed a “partnership agreement” with UEFA named (creatively): ‘The Arrangement
for Cooperation between the European Commission and the Union of European
Football Associations (UEFA)’. The press release indicates that this agreement is to “commit
the two institutions to working together regularly in a tangible and
constructive way on matters of shared interest”. The agreement was negotiated (as
far as we know) secretly with UEFA. Despite recent meetings between EU Commissioner for sport Vassiliou
and UEFA President Platini, the eventuality of such an outcome was never evoked.
It is very unlikely that third-interested-parties (FIFPro, ECA, Supporters
Direct etc.) were consulted in the process of drafting this Arrangement. This
surprising move by an outgoing Commission will be analysed in a three-ponged
approach. First, we will discuss the substance of the Arrangement (I).
Thereafter, we will consider its potential legal value under EU law (II).
Finally, and maybe more importantly, we will confront the political relevance
of the agreement (III). More...
It took almost six months, a record of 26 witnesses and a 68
pages final award for the CAS to put an end to a long-delayed, continuously
acrimonious and highly controversial presidential election for the Football
Association of Thailand (FAT). Worawi Makudi can sit easy and safe on the
throne of the FAT for his fourth consecutive term, since the CAS has dismissed
the appeal filed by the other contender, Virach Chanpanich.
Interestingly enough, it is one of the rare times that the CAS
Appeal Division has been called to adjudicate on the fairness and regularity of
the electoral process of a sports governing body. Having been established as the
supreme judge of sports disputes, by reviewing the electoral process of
international and national sports federations the CAS adds to its functions a
role akin to the one played by a constitutional court in national legal systems.
It seems that members of international and national federations increasingly see
the CAS as an ultimate guardian of fairness and validity of internal electoral
proceedings. Are these features - without prejudice to the CAS role as an
arbitral body- the early sign of the emergence of a Constitutional Court for Sport? More...
This post is an
extended version of an article published in August on hostcity.net.
The recent debacle among the candidate cities for the 2022 Winter
Games has unveiled the depth of the bidding crisis faced by the Olympic Games.
The reform process initiated in the guise of the Olympic Agenda 2020 must take
this disenchantment seriously. The Olympic Agenda 2020 took off with a wide
public consultation ending in April and is now at the end of the working groups phase. One of
the working groups was specifically dedicated to the bidding process and was headed
by IOC vice-president John Coates. More...
With this blog post, we continue the
blog series on Turkish match-fixing cases and our attempt to map the still unchartered
waters of the CAS’s match-fixing jurisprudence.
The first blog post addressed two issues
related to the substance of match-fixing disputes, namely the legal
characterization of the match-fixing related measure of ineligibility under
Article 2.08 of the UEL Regulations as administrative or disciplinary measure
and the scope of application of Article 2.08. In addition, The Turkish cases have
raised procedural and evidentiary issues that need to be dealt with in the framework
of match-fixing disputes.
The CAS panels have drawn a clear line
between substantial and procedural matters. In this light, the Eskişehirspor panel declared the nature of
Article 2.08 UEL Regulations to be administrative and rejected the application
of UEFA Disciplinary Regulations to the substance. Nonetheless, it upheld that disciplinary
rules and standards still apply to the procedure. This conclusion, however, can
be considered puzzling in that disciplinary rules apply to the procedural matters
arising by a pure administrative measure. To this extent, and despite the
bifurcation of different applicable rules into substantial and procedural
matters, the credibility of the qualification of Article 2.08 as administrative
seems to be undermined. And here a question arises: How can the application of
rules of different nature to substantial and procedural matters in an identical
match-fixing dispute be explained?More...
This is the second part of a blog series on
the Real Madrid State aid case. In
the previous blog on this case, an outline of all the relevant facts was provided
and I analysed the first criterion of Article 107(1) TFEU, namely the criterion
that an advantage must be conferred upon the recipient for the measure to be
considered State aid. Having determined that Real Madrid has indeed benefited
from the land transactions, the alleged aid measure has to be scrutinized under
the other criteria of Article 107(1): the measure must be granted by a Member State
or through State resources; the aid granted must be selective; and it must
distorts or threatens to distort competition. In continuation, this blog will
also analyze whether the alleged aid measure could be justified and declared
compatible with EU law under Article 107(3) TFEU.More...
Two weeks ago we received the
unpublished CAS award rendered in the Eskişehirspor case
and decided to comment on it. In this post Thalia Diathesopoulou (Intern at the
ASSER International Sports Law Centre) analyses the legal steps followed and
interpretations adopted by CAS panels in this case and in a series of other
Turkish match-fixing cases. The first part of the post will deal with the
question of the legal nature of the ineligibility decision opposed by UEFA to
clubs involved in one way or another into match-fixing and with the personal
and material scope of UEFA’s rule on which this ineligibility is based. The
second part is dedicated to the procedural rules applied in match-fixing cases.
The unpredictability of the outcome is a
sine qua non feature of sports. It is
this inherent uncertainty that draws the line between sports and entertainment
and triggers the interest of spectators, broadcasters and sponsors. Thus, match-fixing
by jeopardising the integrity and unpredictability of sporting outcomes has been
described, along with doping, as one of the major threats to modern sport. More...
The European Commission’s competition decisions in the
area of sport, which set out broad principles regarding the interface between
sports-related activities and EU competition law, are widely publicized. As a
result of the decentralization of EU competition law enforcement, however,
enforcement activity has largely shifted to the national level. Since 2004,
national competition authorities (NCAs) and national courts are empowered to
fully apply the EU competition rules on anti-competitive agreements (Article
101 TFEU) and abuse of a dominant position (Article 102 TFEU).
Even though NCAs have addressed a series of
interesting competition cases (notably dealing with the regulatory aspects of
sport) during the last ten years, the academic literature has largely overlooked
these developments. This is unfortunate since all stakeholders (sports organisations,
clubs, practitioners, etc.) increasingly need to learn from pressing issues
arising in national cases and enforcement decisions. In a series of blog posts
we will explore these unknown territories of the application of EU competition
law to sport.More...