On Wednesday 20 January 2021 from 16.00-17.30 CET, the Asser International Sports Law Centre, in collaboration with Dr Marjolaine Viret, is organising a Zoom In webinar
on the recent judgment of the General Court in the case International
Skating Union (ISU) v European Commission, delivered on 16 December
2016. The Court ruled on an appeal against the first-ever antitrust
prohibition decision on sporting rules adopted by the European
Commission. More specifically, the case concerned the ISU’s eligibility
rules, which were prohibiting speed skaters from competing in
non-recognised events and threatened them with lifelong bans if they did
(for more details on the origin of the case see this blog).
The ruling of the General Court, which endorsed the majority of the
European Commission’s findings, could have transformative implications
for the structure of sports governance in the EU (and beyond).
We have the pleasure to welcome three renowned experts in EU
competition law and sport to analyse with us the wider consequences of
Zoom In webinar series
In December 2020, The Asser International Sports Law Centre in collaboration with Dr Marjolaine Viret launched a new series of zoom webinars on transnational sports law: Zoom In. You can watch
the video recording of our first discussion on the arbitral award
delivered by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in the Blake
Leeper v. International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) case
on the Asser Institute’s Youtube Channel. Click here to learn more about the Zoom In webinar series.
Editor’s note: Stefano Bastianon is Associate Professor in European
Law at the University of Bergamo and lawyer admitted to the Busto Arsizio bar.
He is also member of the IVth Division of the High Court of Sport
Justice (Collegio di Garanzia dello sport) at the National Olympic Committee.
1. From the very beginning, the outcome of the ISU case was highly predictable, at
least for those who are familiar with the basics of antitrust law.
Nevertheless, more than twenty years after the Bosman judgment, the sports sector has shown the same
shortsightedness and inability to see the forest for the trees. Even this
attitude was highly predictable, at least for those who know the basics of
sports governance. The final result is a clear-cut decision capable of
influencing the entire sports movement. More...
This is part two of the blog on the Willem
II and MVV State Aid decisions. Where
part one served as an introduction on the two cases, part two will analyze the
compatibility assessment made by the Commission in two decisions.
compatibility of the aid to MVV and Willem II (re-)assessed
Even though it was the Netherlands’
task to invoke possible grounds of compatibility and to demonstrate that the
conditions for such compatibility were met, the aid granted to both Willem II
and MVV was never notified. The Netherland’s failure to fulfill its notification
obligation, therefore, appears to be at odds with the Commission’s final
decision to declare the aid compatible with EU law. Yet, a closer look at the
Commission’s decision of 6 March 2013 to launch the formal investigation shows
that the Commission was giving the Netherlands a ‘second chance’ to invoke
grounds that would lead to a justification of the measures.More...
The European Commission’s decisions of 4 July 2016 to order the recovery of the State aid granted to seven
Spanish professional football clubs
were in a previous blog called historic. It was
the first time that professional football clubs have been ordered to repay aid
received from (local) public authorities. Less attention has been given to five
other decisions also made public that day, which cleared support measures for five football clubs in the Netherlands. The clubs in question were PSV Eindhoven, MVV Maastricht, NEC Nijmegen,
FC Den Bosch and Willem II.
Given the inherent political sensitivity of State aid recovery
decisions, it is logical that the “Spanish decisions” were covered more widely
than the “Dutch decisions”. Furthermore, clubs like Real Madrid and FC
Barcelona automatically get more media attention than FC Den Bosch or Willem
II. Yet, even though the “Dutch decisions” are of a lower profile, from an EU
State aid law perspective, they are not necessarily less interesting.
A few days before entering the quiet month of August, the Commission
published the non-confidential versions of its decisions concerning PSV Eindhoven, Willem II and MVV Maastricht (hereinafter:
“MVV”). The swiftness of these publications is somewhat surprising, since it often
takes at least three months to solve all the confidentiality issues.
Nonetheless, nobody will complain (especially not me) about this opportunity to
analyze in depth these new decisions. 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 Law Centre.
On 3 June 2016, the Landgericht München (“Munich
Regional Court”) ordered temporary injunctions against the International Basketball Federation (“FIBA”)
and FIBA Europe, prohibiting them from sanctioning clubs who want to
participate in competitions organized by Euroleague Commercial Assets (“ECA”).
The reasoning of the Court is based on breaches of German and EU competition
law provisions. FIBA and FIBA Europe are, according to the judge, abusing their
dominant position by excluding or threatening to exclude national teams from
their international competitions because of the participation of their clubs in
the Euroleague. This decision is the first judicial step taken in the ongoing
legal battle between FIBA and ECA over the organization of European basketball competitions.
This judgment raises several interesting points with
regard to how the national judge deals with the alleged abuse of a dominant
position by European and international federations. A few questions arise
regarding the competence of the Munich Regional Court that may be interesting
to first look at in the wake of an appeal before examining the substance of the
Editor’s note: This report
compiles all relevant news, events and materials on International and European
Sports Law based on the daily coverage provided on our twitter feed @Sportslaw_asser. You are invited
to complete this survey via the comments section below, feel free to add links
to important cases, documents and articles we might have overlooked.
This month saw the conflict between FIBA Europe
and the Euroleague (more precisely its private club-supported organizing body,
Euroleague Commercial Assets or ‘ECA’) becoming further entrenched. This
dispute commenced with FIBA creating a rival Basketball Champions League, starting from the 2016-2017 season with the hope to reinstate their
hold over the organization of European championships. The ECA, a private body
that oversees the Euroleague and Eurocup, not only decided to maintain its
competitions but also announced it would reduce them to a closed, franchise-based league following a
joint-venture with IMG. In retaliation, FIBA Europe suspended fourteen
federations of its competition (with the support of FIBA) due to their support for the Euroleague project.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 Law Centre.
In its decisions regarding the joint selling of football media rights (UEFA, Bundesliga, FA Premier
league), the European Commission insisted that premium media
rights must be sold through a non-discriminatory and transparent tender
procedure, in several packages and for a limited period of time in order to
reduce foreclosure effects in the downstream market. These remedies ensure that
broadcasters are able to compete for rights that carry high audiences and, for
pay TV, a stable number of subscriptions. In line with these precedents, national
competition authorities have tried to ensure compliance with remedy packages.
The tipping point here appears to be the premium qualification of sport rights
on the upstream market of commercialization of sport TV rights.
This begs the question: which sport TV rights must be
considered premium? More...
Wil is working as a lawyer since 1980. He
started his legal career at Rechtshulp Rotterdam. Later on he worked for the
Dutch national trade union FNV and law firm Varrolaan Advocaten. Currently he
is participating in the Labour Law Section of lawfirm MHZ-advocaten in Schiedam
in the Netherlands. He is also a member of a joint committee advising the government
in labour issues.
Since 1991 he is dealing with the labour issues
of the trade union for professional football players VVCS and cyclists’ union
VVBW. Since 2002, he works for FIFPro, the worldwide union for professional
football players based in Hoofddorp in the Netherlands. He is involved in many
international football cases and provides legal support for FIFPro members all
over the world. Wil was also involved in the FIFPro Black Book campaign on
match fixing and corruption in Eastern Europe. More...
1. Antitrust/Competition Law and Sport
G Basnier, ‘Sports and competition law: the case of the salary
cap in New Zealand rugby union’, (2014) 14 The
International Sports Law Journal 3-4, p.155
R Craven, ‘Football and State aid: too important to fail?’ (2014) 14 The International Sports Law Journal 3-4, p.205
R Craven, ‘State Aid and Sports Stadiums: EU Sports Policy or
Deference to Professional Football’ (2014) 35 European Competition Law Review Issue 9,
2. Intellectual Property Rights in Sports law /
Betting rights/ Spectators’ rights/ Sponsorship Agreements
W T Champion and K
DWillis, Intellectual property law in the
sports and entertainment industries (Santa Barbara, California; Denver, Colorado;
Oxford, England: Praeger 2014)
and F Rizzo, Les contrats de sponsoring
sportif (Lextenso éditions 2014)
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...