On 18 May 2016, the day the first part
of this blog was published, the Commission said in response
to the Hungarian MEP Péter Niedermüller’s question, that it
had “not specifically monitored the tax relief (…) but would consider doing so.
The Commission cannot prejudge the steps that it might take following such
monitoring. However, the Commission thanks (Niedermüller) for drawing its
attention to the report of Transparency International.”
With the actual implementation in Hungary appearing to
deviate from the original objectives and conditions of the aid scheme, as discussed
in part 1 of this blog, a possible monitoring exercise by the Commission of the
Hungarian tax benefit scheme seems appropriate. The question remains, however,
whether the Commission follows up on the intent of monitoring, or whether the
intent should be regarded as empty words. This second part of the blog will outline
the rules on reviewing and monitoring (existing) aid, both substantively and
procedurally. It will determine,
alia, whether the State aid rules impose an obligation upon the Commission
to act and, if so, in what way. More...
Yesterday, 18 May 2016, the licensing committee of the Dutch football
federation (KNVB) announced its decision to sanction FC Twente with relegation to
the Netherland’s second (and lowest) professional league. The press release also
included a link to a document outlining the reasons underlying the
decision. For those following the saga surrounding Dutch football club FC
Twente, an unconditional sanction by the licensing committee appeared to be
only a matter of time. Yet, it is the sanction itself, as well as its
reasoning, that will be the primary focus of this short blog.More...
benefit scheme in the Hungarian sport sector decision of 9 November 2011 marked a turning point as
regards the Commission’s decisional practice in the field of State aid and
sport. Between this date and early 2014, the Commission reached a total of ten decisions
on State aid to sport infrastructure and opened four formal investigations into
alleged State aid to professional football clubs like Real Madrid
and Valencia CF.
As a result of the experience gained from the decision making, it was decided
to include a Section on State aid to sport infrastructure in the 2014 General Block Exemption Regulation. Moreover, many people, including myself, held that
Commission scrutiny in this sector would serve to achieve better accountability
and transparency in sport governance.
Yet, a recent report by
Transparency International (TI), published in October 2015, raises questions about the efficiency of State aid enforcement in
the sport sector. The report analyzes the results and effects of the Hungarian tax benefit scheme and
financing system suffers from transparency issues and corruption risks. (…) The
lack of transparency poses a serious risk of collusion between politics and
business which leads to opaque lobbying. This might be a reason for the
disproportionateness found in the distribution of the subsidies, which is most
apparent in the case of (football) and (the football club) Felcsút.”
In other words, according to TI, selective economic
advantages from public resources are being granted to professional football
clubs, irrespective of the tax benefit scheme greenlighted by the Commission
or, in fact, because of the tax
benefit scheme. 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.
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...
Editor's note: Laura Donnellan is a lecturer at University of Limerick. You can find her latest publications here.
the 12th of April, João
Carvalho passed away in the Beaumont Hospital after sustaining serious injuries
from a mixed martial arts (MMA) event in Dublin on the previous Saturday. The
fighter was knocked out in the third round of a welterweight fight against
Charlie Ward. Aside from the tragic loss of life, the death of Carvalho raises
a number of interesting legal issues. This opinion piece will discuss the
possible civil and criminal liability that may result from the untimely death
of the Portuguese fighter.
important to note at the outset that MMA has few rules and permits wrestling
holds, punching, marital arts throws and kicking. MMA appears to have little
regulation and a lack of universally accepted, standardised rules. There is no
international federation or governing body that regulates MMA. It is largely
self-regulated. MMA is not recognised under the sports and governing bodies
listed by Sport
Ireland, the statutory body established by the Sport
Ireland Act 2015 which replaced the Irish
Sports Council. MMA is considered a properly constituted sport so long as the
rules and regulations are adhered to, there are appropriate safety procedures,
the rules are enforced by independent referees, and it appropriately
Acting Minister for Sport, Michael Ring, has called for the regulation
of MMA. Currently there are no minimum requirements
when it comes to medical personnel; nor are there any particular requirements
as to training of medical personnel. The promoter decides how many doctors and
paramedics are to be stationed at events. In February 2014 Minister Ring wrote to 17
MMA promoters in Ireland requesting that they implement safety precautions in
line with those used by other sports including boxing and rugby.
this lack of regulation, this does not exempt MMA from legal liability as the
discussion below demonstrates.More...
Editor's note: Conor
Talbot is a Solicitor at LK Shields Solicitors in Dublin and an
Associate Researcher at Trinity College Dublin. He can be contacted at
firstname.lastname@example.org, you can follow him on Twitter at @ConorTalbot and his research is available at
www.ssrn.com/author=1369709. This piece was first published on the humanrights.ie blog.
Sport is an integral part of the culture of almost
every nation and its ability to shape perceptions and influence public opinion
should not be underestimated. The United
Nations has highlighted the potential for using sport in reducing
discrimination and inequality, specifically by empowering girls and women. Research indicates that the benefits of sport include enhancing
health and well-being, fostering empowerment, facilitating social inclusion and
challenging gender norms.
In spite of the possible benefits, the successful
implementation of sport-related initiatives aimed at gender equity involves
many challenges and obstacles. Chief
amongst these is the way that existing social constructs of masculinity and
femininity — or socially accepted ways of expressing what it means to be a man
or woman in a particular socio-cultural context — play a key role in
determining access, levels of participation, and benefits from sport. This contribution explores recent
developments in the interaction between transgender and intersex rights and the
multi-billion dollar industry that the modern Olympic Games has become. Recent reports show that transgender people continue to suffer from the glacial pace of change in social attitudes
and, while there has been progress as part of a long and difficult journey to afford transgender people full legal
recognition through the courts, it seems clear that sport could play an increasingly
important role in helping change or better inform social attitudes.More...
Footballleaks is now operating since nearly half a year and has already provided an
incredible wealth of legal documents both on TPO (and in particular Doyen’s
contractual arrangements) and on the operation of the transfer system in
football (mainly transfer agreements, player contracts and agents contracts).
This constant stream of information is extremely valuable for academic research
to get a better grip on the functioning of the transfer market. It is also
extremely relevant for the shaping of public debates and political decisions on
the regulation of this market. As pointed out on the footballleaks website, it has triggered a series of press
investigations in major European news outlets.
In this blog, I want to come to a
closure on our reporting on Doyen’s TPO deals. In the past months, we have
already dealt with the specific cases of FC Twente and Sporting Lisbon, reviewed Doyen’s TPO deals with Spanish clubs, as well as discussed the compatibility of the TPO ban with EU law. In the Sporting
Lisbon case, Doyen has since earned an
important legal victory in front of the CAS (the ensuing award was just
published by Footballleaks). This victory should not be overstated, however, it
was not unexpected due to the liberal understanding of the freedom of contract
under Swiss law. As such it does not support the necessity of TPO as an
investment practice and does not threaten the legality (especially under EU
law) of FIFA’s ban.
In our previous blogs on Doyen’s
TPO deals we decided to focus only on specific deals, Twente and Sporting
Lisbon, or a specific country (Spain). However, nearly six months after the whole footballleaks project started, we can
now provide a more comprehensive analysis of the TPO deals signed by Doyen.
Though, it is still possible that other, yet unknown, deals would be revealed, I
believe that few of Doyen’s TPO agreements are still hidden. Thanks to footballleaks, we now know how Doyen
operates, we have a precise idea of its turnover, its return on investments and
the pool of clubs with which it signed a TPO agreement. Moreover, we have a
good understanding of the contractual structure used by Doyen in those deals.
This blog will offer a brief synthesis and analysis of this data.More...
Update: On 14 April footballleaks released a series of documents concerning Sporting de Gijón. Therefore, I have updated this blog on 19 April to take into account the new information provided.
Doyen Sports’ TPO (or TPI) model has been touted as a “viable alternative source of finance much needed by the large majority
of football clubs in Europe". These are the
words of Doyen’s CEO, Nélio Lucas, during a debate on (the prohibition of) TPO
held at the European Parliament in Brussels last January. During that same
debate, La Liga’s president, Javier
Tebas, contended that professional football clubs, as private undertakings,
should have the right to obtain funding by private investors to, among other
reasons, “pay off the club’s debts or to compete better”. Indeed, defendants
of the TPO model continuously argue that third party investors, such as Doyen, only
have the clubs’ best interests in mind, being the only ones capable and willing
to prevent professional football clubs from going bankrupt. This claim constitutes
an important argument for the defendants of the TPO model, such as La Liga and La Liga Portuguesa, who have jointly submitted a complaint in front of the
European Commission against FIFA’s ban of the practice.
The eruption of footballleaks provided the essential material necessary to test this claim. It allows
us to better analyse and understand the functioning of third party investment and
the consequences for clubs who use these services. The leaked contracts between
Doyen and, for example, FC Twente, showed that the club’s short term financial
boost came at the expense of its long-term financial stability. If a club is
incapable of transferring players for at least the minimum price set in Doyen’s
contracts, it will find itself in a financially more precarious situation than
before signing the Economic Rights Participation Agreement (ERPA). TPO might
have made FC Twente more competitive in the short run, in the long run it
pushed the club (very) close to bankruptcy.
More than four months after its launch, footballleaks continues to publish documents from the football
world, most notably Doyen’s ERPAs involving 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.
Marine Montejo is a graduate from the College of
Europe in Bruges and is currently an Intern at the ASSER International Sports
The Belgian Court of Appeal released its
judgment this month regarding Doyen’s legal battle against the FIFA TPO ban.
The Appeal Court confirmed the first instance decision and ruled out any provisional
measures to block the ban’s implementation (for an in depth review, see
our blog post). More importantly, the Court
reaffirmed that Swiss based sport federations are liable in front of EU Members’
States courts when EU competition law is involved. That means the next
important step for this legal battle is whether or not the European Commission
is going to open a formal proceeding (Doyen
already lodged a complaint) to assess the compatibility,
and more importantly, the proportionality of the TPO ban with EU law. Only a
preliminary ruling by the CJEU could hasten the decision if one of the European
national courts, hearing a case brought by Doyen (France or Belgium), decided
to refer a preliminary question.More...