AbstractsLaw & Legal Studies

EU Sports Law and Breakaway Leagues in Football

by Katarina Pijetlovic

Institution: University of Helsinki
Department: Faculty of Law
Year: 2015
Keywords: law
Record ID: 1144806
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/153561


This dissertation analyses the legal problem posed by the clauses in UEFA Statutes that prevent clubs from unauthorised formation of alternative transnational structures in football. Unequivocally, these clauses constitute restrictions on economic activities of football clubs in their capacity as undertakings contrary to EU competition and internal market laws, in particular, Articles 101, 102 and 56 TFEU that form the core of EU sports law. More contentiously, however, the heart of the analysis lies in the question of justification and proportionality of the restrictions, which could possibly render the restrictive UEFA clauses legal and enforceable. Over the past 20 years, a solid body of case law, legislation and EU policy documents developed a distinct legal discipline that can be referred to as EU sports law and that can facilitate in resolving this question. The essence of EU sports law lies in the custom-tailored application of traditional economic provisions that takes account of the specificities of sport, a concept that has been given constitutional basis in Article 165 TFEU after the Lisbon Treaty amendments. Moreover, the approach to specificity of sport can be traced back to its origins in 1974 Walrave case, and it forms the basis of the crucial notion of sporting exception in the EU law. This study first highlights the problems in the governance of European football with particular reference to power struggles between UEFA and the elite football clubs and the threats of formation of alternative cross-border leagues by the clubs. Thereafter, the study sets out and discerns the principles underlying the application of EU freedom of movement and competition law to legal disputes in the sports sector, contributing several original interpretations of the key sports cases, such as Bosman, Meca-Medina, Bernard, and Murphy. Most prominent contribution of this thesis to the general study of EU sports law, however, is sketching a novel way of looking at the different categories of sporting exceptions through the prism of convergence between EU free movement law and competition law. The quest for convergence revealed a largely streamlined analytical framework in the sporting cases that involve organisational/regulatory rules and rely on public interest justifications. Finally, thus streamlined framework is applied to analyse the question of legality of the UEFA clauses restricting the formation of breakaway leagues. Some of the conclusions that emerge from this analytical process are surprising, in particular those pertaining to UEFA s power on the relevant market for organisational services for transnational club football in Europe. Tässä tutkimuksessa käsitellään eurooppalaisen jalkapallon hallinnon ongelmia viitaten etenkin valtataisteluun UEFA:n (Euroopan jalkapalloliitto) ja eliittiseurojen välillä. Nämä valtataistelut heijastuvat siinä, että jalkapalloseurat uhkaavat muodostaa vaihtoehtoisia rajat ylittäviä liigoja. UEFA:n säännöt nimittäin estävät jalkapalloseurojen osallistumisen sellaisiin…