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: Marjolaine is an attorney admitted to the Geneva bar (Switzerland) who specialises in sports and life sciences. She currently participates as a scientific collaborator at the University of Neuchâtel on a research project to produce the first article-by-article legal commentary of the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code. Her latest book Evidence in Anti-Doping at
the Intersection of Science & Law was published in 2016 in the International Sports Law Book Series of T.M.C. ASSER Press.
On 30 September 2016, a panel of the Court
of Arbitration for Sport (“CAS”) rendered its award
in the matter opposing high-profile tennis player Maria Sharapova to the
International Tennis Federation (“ITF”). Maria Sharapova was appealing the
two-year ban imposed on
her by the ITF Tribunal in June 2016 for her use of Meldonium, a substance
newly added to the WADA Prohibited List 2016.
Since neither the ITF nor WADA had chosen to challenge the Tribunal’s decision,
the stakes of the case were rather simple: would the player convince the CAS
panel that she should benefit from a finding of “No Significant Fault or
thereby allowing for a reduction of the sanction down to a minimum of one year,
or should the decision of the Tribunal be upheld? In its award, the CAS panel
decided to grant such finding and reduced the sanction to 15 months.
This blog does not purport to be a ‘comment’
on the CAS award. Rather, it seeks to place the Sharapova matter into a broader
context with respect to a specific issue: the expectations on Athletes when it
comes to their awareness of the prohibited character of a substance,
specifically when taking a medication.
In July 2016, I presented at the T.M.C Asser Institute in The Hague various current
challenges of anti-doping that the Meldonium cases exposed (see the video here). One of these
challenges concerned the modalities for including new substances onto the
Prohibited List. This blog represents a follow-up on my presentation, in the
light of the findings contained in the CAS award. More...
On 28 September 2016, the Commission published the
non-confidential version of its negative Decision and recovery order regarding the preferential
corporate tax treatment of Real Madrid, Athletic Bilbao, Osasuna and FC
Barcelona. It is the second-to-last publication of the Commission’s Decisions
concerning State aid granted to professional football clubs, all announced on 4 July of this year.
Contrary to the other “State aid in football” cases, this Decision concerns
State aid and taxation, a very hot topic in
today’s State aid landscape. Obviously, this Decision will not have the same
impact as other prominent tax decisions, such as the ones concerning Starbucks and Apple.
This case dates back to November 2009, when a representative
of a number of investors specialised in the purchase of publicly listed shares,
and shareholders of a number of European football clubs drew the attention of
the Commission to a possible preferential corporate tax treatment of the four
mentioned Spanish clubs.More...
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.
September hosted the very last bit of the sport summer 2016, most
notably in the form of the Rio Paralympic Games. Next to the spectacular
achievements displayed during these games, in the realm of sports law similar
thrilling developments hit town. The first very much expected #Sportslaw
highlight was the decision by the German Bundesgerichtshof
in the case concerning SV Wilhelmshaven. The second major (less expected) story
was the Statement of Objections issued by the European Commission against the International
Football intermediaries, or agents, are again under attack in the news. For some, corrupt behaviour has become endemic in football’s culture. It is always dangerous to scapegoat a whole profession or a group of
people. Many intermediaries are trying their best to lawfully defend the
interests of their clients, but some are not. The key focus should be on
providing an adequate legal and administrative framework to limit the
opportunities for corrupt behaviour in the profession. This is easier said than
done, however. We are dealing with an intrinsically transnationalized business,
often conducted by intermediaries who are not subjected to the disciplinary
power of federations. Sports governing bodies are lacking the police power and
human resources necessary to force the intermediaries to abide by their private
standards. In this context, this blog aims to review a recent case in front of
the regional court of Frankfurt in Germany, which highlights the legal
challenges facing (and leeway available to) national federations when
regulating the profession. More...