The first part of this series looked at the legal framework in which FFP
sits, concluding that FFP occupied a ‘marginal’ legal position – perhaps
legal, perhaps not. Given the significant financial
interests in European football – UEFA’s figures suggest aggregate revenue of nearly €17 billion as at clubs’ 2015
accounts – and the close correlation between clubs’ spending on wages and their
success on the field, a legal
challenge to the legality of FFP’s ‘break even’ requirement (the Break Even
Requirement), which restricts a particular means of spending, was perhaps
And so it followed.
Challenges to the legality of
the Break Even Requirement have been brought by football agent Daniel Striani,
through various organs of justice of the European Union and through the Belgian
courts; and by Galatasaray in the Court of Arbitration for Sport. As an
interesting footnote, both Striani and Galatasaray were advised by “avocat superstar” Jean-Louis Dupont, the lawyer who acted in several of sports law’s
most famous cases, including the seminal Bosman case. Dupont has been a vocal critic of FFP’s legality since its inception. More...
On 21 January 2015, the Court of
arbitration for sport (CAS) rendered its award in the latest avatar of the Mutu case, aka THE sports law case that
keeps on giving (this decision might still be appealed to the Swiss Federal
tribunal and a complaint by Mutu is still pending in front of the European
Court of Human Right). The decision was finally published on the CAS website on
Tuesday. Basically, the core question focuses on the interpretation of Article
14. 3 of the FIFA Regulations on the Status and
Transfer of Players in its 2001 version. More precisely, whether, in case of a dismissal of a player
(Mutu) due to a breach of the contract without just cause by the
player, the new club (Juventus and/or Livorno) bears the duty to pay the
compensation due by the player to his former club (Chelsea). Despite winning maybe
the most high profile case in the history of the CAS, Chelsea has been desperately
hunting for its money since the rendering of the award (as far as the US), but
it is a daunting task. Thus, the English football club had the idea to turn
against Mutu’s first employers after his dismissal in 2005, Juventus and
Livorno, with success in front of the FIFA Dispute Resolution Chamber (DRC),
but as we will see the CAS decided otherwise. More...
Class actions are among the most
powerful legal tools available in the US to enforce competition rules. With more
than 75 years of experience, the American system offers valuable lessons about
the benefits and drawbacks of class actions for private enforcement in
competition law. Once believed of
as only a US phenomenon, class actions are slowly becoming reality in the EU. After the
adoption of the Directive on damages
actions in November 2014, the legislative initiative in collective redress
(which could prescribe a form of class actions) is expected in 2017.
pro-active Member States have already taken steps to introduce class actions in
some fashion, like, for example, Germany.
is a class action? It is a lawsuit that allows
many similar legal
claims with a common interest to be bundled into a single
court action. Class actions facilitate
access to justice for potential claimants, strengthen the negotiating power and
to the efficient administration of justice. This legal mechanism
ensures a possibility to claim cessation of
illegal behavior (injunctive relief) or to claim compensation for damage
suffered (compensatory relief). More...
There has been a lot
of Commission interest in potential state aid to professional football
clubs in various Member States. The huge
sums of money involved are arguably an important factor in this interest and
conversely, is perhaps the reason why state aid in rugby union is not such a
concern. But whilst the sums of money
may pale into comparison to those of professional football, the implications
for the sport are potentially no less serious.
At the end of the
2012/2013 season, Biarritz Olympique (Biarritz) were relegated from the elite
of French Rugby Union, the Top 14 to the Pro D2. By the skin of their teeth, and as a result
of an injection of cash from the local
council (which amounted
to 400,000€), they were spared administrative relegation to the amateur league
below, the Fédérale 1, which would have occurred as a result of the financial
state of the club.More...
The year 2015 promises to be crucial, and possibly revolutionary, for
State aid in football. The European Commission is taking its time in concluding
its formal investigations into alleged State aid granted to five Dutch clubs
and several Spanish clubs, including Valencia CF and Real Madrid, but the final decisions are due for 2015.
A few months ago, the Commission also received a set of fresh State aid complaints originating from the EU’s newest Member State
Croatia. The complaints were launched by a group of minority shareholders of
the Croatian football club Hajduk Split, who call themselves Naš Hajduk. According to Naš Hajduk, Hajduk Split’s eternal rival, GNK Dinamo
Zagreb, has received more than 30 million Euros in unlawful aid by the city of
Zagreb since 2006.More...
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...
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...
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...
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...
This is the
first part of a blog series involving the Real
Madrid State aid case.
Apart from being
favoured by many of
Spain’s most important politicians, there have always been suspicions
surrounding the world’s richest football club regarding possible financial aid by the Madrid City Council. Indeed, in
the late 90’s a terrain qualification change by the Madrid City Council proved to
be tremendously favourable to the king’s club. The change allowed Real Madrid
to sell its old training grounds for a huge sum. Though the exact price for the
grounds remains unknown, Real Madrid was suddenly capable of buying players
like Figo and Zidane for record fees. However, the European Commission, even
though agreeing that an advantage was conferred to the club, simply stated that the new
qualification of the terrain in question does not appear to involve any
transfer of resources by the State and could therefore not be regarded as State
aid within the meaning of article 107 TFEU.
between the club and the Council have been a regularity for the last 25
years. A more recent example concerns an
agreement signed on 29 July 2011 (Convenio29-07-2011.pdf (8MB).