The selling of media rights is currently a hot
topic in European football. Last week, the English Premier League cashed in
around 7 billion Euros for the sale of its live domestic media rights (2016 to
2019) – once again a 70 percent increase in comparison to the previous tender. This
means that even the bottom club in the Premier League will receive
approximately €130 million while the champions can expect well over €200
million per season.
The Premier League’s new deal has already led
the President of the Spanish National Professional Football League (LNFP),
Javier Tebas, to express his concerns that this could see La Liga lose its position as one of Europe’s leading leagues. He reiterated
that establishing a centralised sales model in Spain is of utmost importance,
if not long overdue.
Concrete plans to reintroduce a system of joint
selling for the media rights of the Primera
División, Segunda División A, and la
Copa del Rey by means of a Royal Decree were already announced two years
ago. The road has surely been long and bumpy. The draft Decree is finally on
the table, but now it misses political approval. All the parties involved are
blaming each other for the current failure: the LNFP blames the Sport
Governmental Council for Sport (CSD) for not taking the lead; the Spanish Football
Federation (RFEF) is arguing that the Federation and non-professional
football entities should receive more money and that it should have a stronger
say in the matter in accordance with the FIFA Statutes; and there are widespread rumours that the two big earners, Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, are actively
lobbying to prevent the Royal Decree of actually being adopted.
To keep the soap opera drama flowing, on 30 December 2014, FASFE (an
organisation consisting of groups of fans, club members, and minority
shareholders of several Spanish professional football clubs) and the
International Soccer Centre (a movement that aims to obtain more balanced and
transparent football and basketball competitions in Spain) filed an antitrust complaint with the European Commission against the LNFP. They
argue that the current system of individual selling of LNFP media rights, with
unequal shares of revenue widening the gap between clubs, violates EU
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...
The Pechstein decision of the
Oberlandesgericht of Munich is “ground-breaking”, “earth-shaking”, “revolutionary”,
name it. It was the outmost duty of a “German-reading” sports lawyer to
translate it as fast as possible in order to make it available for the sports
law community at large (Disclaimer: This is not an official translation and I
am no certified legal translator). Below you will find the rough translation of
the ruling (the full German text is available here), it is omitting solely the parts,
which are of no direct interest to international sports law.
of CAS is in the balance and this ruling should trigger some serious
rethinking of the institutional set-up that underpins it. As you will see, the
ruling is not destructive, the Court is rather favourable to the function of
CAS in the sporting context, but it requires a fundamental institutional
reshuffling. It also offers a fruitful legal strategy to challenge CAS awards
that could be used in front of any national court of the EU as it is based on reasoning
analogically applicable to article 102 TFEU (on abuse of a dominant position),
which is valid across the EU’s territory.
Enjoy the read!
PS: The translation can also be downloaded at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2561297
autumn 2011, the Finnish cross-country skier Juha Lalluka, known as a “lone-wolf” because of his training habit, showed an
adverse analytical finding with regard to human growth hormone (hGH). The timing
was ideal. As the FINADA Supervisory Body in view of the A and B positive
samples initiated disciplinary proceedings against Lalluka for violation of
anti-doping rules, the Veerpalu case was pending before the
CAS. At the athlete’s request, the Supervisory Board postponed the proceedings until
the CAS rendered the award in the Veerpalu
case. Indeed, on 25 March 2013, the CAS
shook the anti-doping order: it cleared Andrus Veerpalu of an anti-doping rule
violation for recombinant hGH (rhGH) on the grounds that the decision limits
set by WADA to define the ratio
beyond which the laboratories should report the presence of rhGH had not proven
Veerpalu precedent has become a
rallying flag for athletes suspected of use of hGH and confirmed some concerns raised about the application of the hGH test. Not surprisingly, Sinkewitz and Lallukka followed
the road that Veerpalu paved and sought to overturn their doping ban by
alleging the scientific unreliability of the hGH decisions limits. Without
success, however. With the full text of the CAS award on the Lallukka case released
a few weeks ago
and the new rules of the 2015 WADA Code coming into force, we grasp the opportunity to outline the ambiguous approach of CAS on
the validity of the hGH test. In short: Should the Veerpalu case and its claim that
doping sanctions should rely on scientifically well founded assessments be
considered as a fundamental precedent or as a mere exception? 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...
Media reports and interested stakeholders often suggest that
certain types of sports bets would significantly increase the risks of match
fixing occurring. These concerns also surface in policy discussions at both the national and European level.
Frequently calls are made to prohibit the supply of “risky” sports bets as a
means to preserve the integrity of sports competitions.
Questions about the appropriateness of imposing such
limitations on the regulated sports betting, however, still linger. The
lack of access to systematic empirical evidence on betting-related match fixing
has so far limited the capacity of academic research to make a proper risk
assessment of certain types of sports bets.
The ASSER International Sports Law Centre has conducted the first-ever study that assesses the integrity risks of certain sports bets on the
basis of quantitative empirical evidence.
We uniquely obtained access to key statistics from
Sportradar’s Fraud Detection System (FDS). A five-year dataset of football
matches worldwide, which the FDS identified as likely to have been targeted by
match fixers, enabled us to observe patterns and correlations with certain
types of sports bets. In addition, representative samples of football bets
placed with sports betting operator Betfair were collected and analysed.
The results presented in this report, which challenge several claims
about the alleged risks generated by certain types of sports bets, hope to
inform policy makers about the cost-effectiveness of imposing limits on the
regulated sports betting offer.More...
Editor's note (13 July 2015): We (Ben Van Rompuy and I) have just published on SSRN an article on the Pechstein ruling of the OLG. It is available at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2621983. Feel free to download it and to share any feedback with us!
On 15 January 2015, the earth must
have been shaking under the offices of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS)
in Lausanne when the Oberlandesgericht München announced its decision in the
Pechstein case. If not entirely unpredictable, the decision went very far
(further than the first instance) in eroding the legal foundations on which
sports arbitration rests. It is improbable (though not impossible) that the
highest German civil court, the Bundesgerichtshof (BGH), which will most likely
be called to pronounce itself in the matter, will entirely dismiss the
reasoning of the Oberlandesgericht. This blogpost is a first examination of the
legal arguments used (Disclaimer: it is based only on the official press release, the full text of the ruling will be published in
the coming months).More...
Over the last twenty years,
professional cycling has developed the reputation of one of the “most drug
soaked sports in the world”.
This should not come as a surprise. The sport’s integrity has plummeted down
due to an unprecedented succession of doping scandals. La crème de la crème of
professional cyclists has been involved in doping incidents including Tyler Hamilton, Floyd Landis, Alejandro
and Lance Armstrong. The once prestigious
Tour de France has been stigmatized as a race of “pharmacological feat, not a
In view of these overwhelming shadows, in
International Cycling Union (UCI), in cooperation with the World Anti-Doping
Agency (WADA) took a leap in the fight against doping. It became the
first International Sports Federation to implement a radical new anti-doping
program known as the Athlete
Biological Passport (ABP).
The summer saga surrounding Luis
Suarez’s vampire instincts is long forgotten, even though it might still play a
role in his surprisingly muted football debut in FC Barcelona’s magic triangle.
However, the full text of the CAS award in the Suarez
case has recently be made available on CAS’s website and we want to grasp this
opportunity to offer a close reading of its holdings. In this regard, one has
to keep in mind that “the object of the appeal is not to request the complete
annulment of the sanction imposed on the Player” (par.33). Instead, Suarez and
Barcelona were seeking to reduce the sanction imposed by FIFA. In their eyes, the
four-month ban handed out by FIFA extending to all football-related activities
and to the access to football stadiums was excessive and disproportionate. Accordingly,
the case offered a great opportunity for CAS to discuss and analyse the
proportionality of disciplinary sanctions based on the FIFA Disciplinary Code (FIFA DC). More...