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Law Essay on Sports Law

Sports Law


Sports form an area that has a broad record in the European Union. The presence of many arguments on sports law emphasizes this fact. Actually, the ASSER sports center published a journal that has specified policies and legal papers pertaining to this subject. The recent publication on the website of this center is among its major publications. This publication assists in defining the specificity of sports.1

Among the topics covered by this publication include broadcasting, policy character, sports funding, doping, competition customs, diplomas and discrimination. Perhaps, it is necessary to acknowledge other topics including Olympic Games, vandalism trademarks and violence that fall under sports’ specificity. Production of several articles and publications on sports specificity topic elaborates its complex nature.

However, despite having these publications, many practitioners and scholars have not yet gotten an answer to the question of the relationship between the European Union and sports. In simple words, it is still not clear if sports should be treated in an extraordinary manner by the Union considering the situations of the modern society or whether sports need exceptional treatment and the reasons for this. The EU needs to understand several legal reformations since this will enable it to acknowledge the essence of treating sports in a special manner.

[1]               Siekmann (2012). The Specificity of Sport: Sporting Exceptions in EU Law

Some documents and publications that the European Union should consider include the Amsterdam Treaty on the sports position in EU of 1997, the 2000s Nice Treaty, the 2007s Sports White Paper and the Lisbon Treaty. These are critical subjects that are important in the definition of sports specificity. As such, this essay clarifies the term, “specificity of sports” while bringing out its significance.

The Foundation for Specificity of Sport

Sport specificity foundation dates back to the Treaty of Amsterdam of 1997. This accord led to the amendment of the initial accords that established the European Union.2 Seikmann (2012) notes that, this treaty emphasized on the role of sport in the European society. The treaty specifically emphasized on the sports’ role in uniting the people as well as forging identities.3 The treaty required the organizations of the European Union to play a role in assisting sports associations on crucial issues. Essentially, the treaty did not serve as a law and therefore it lacked a legal force. According to Ackrill & Kay, this treaty was just a policy statement. It acted as the 2000s Treaty of Nice foundation. 4

The 2000 Treaty of Nice

This treaty focused centrally on specific traits and social purposes of sports in the European society. The basis of this treaty was the 1999s Helsinki Report. The objective of this report was to sustain and shield the social role of sport and the current structures.

2 Gardiner, S. (1997). Birth of a Legal Area: Sport and the Law or Sports Law

3Siekmann, R. (2012). The Specificity of Sport: Sporting Exceptions in EU Law

4Ackrill & Kay(2011). “Multiple streams in EU policy-making: the case of the 2005 sugar reform

5 James & Cremona. (2010). Sports Law.

The information provided the integration course in terms of sport’s economic aspects with cultural, social and educational paradigms. As indicated in the report, section 4 elucidates the sport’s official situation due to the fact that the section ascribes for sports to achieve the existing arrangements commercially as a development strategy.

To achieve this, sport should not lose identity and autonomy that it depicts in its role in the social, cultural and educational areas.5 The Amsterdam Treaty’s statement in this report does not have specific sport’s provisions. However, these provisions are important because they compel initiatives of national authorities and sporting organizations to comply with the community law. Such law includes the respect that competition law and internal market principles should be accorded.

Coordination, interpretation and supplementation at the community level follow closely. This can help if their design is aimed at reinforcing legal certainty and social function at the communal level. Despite this, power blocs of the contemporary society disclose the problem that support courses have, execution of common guidelines in sport and the essential involvements that might not survive. If preserving the role that sport plays in the society is advisable, the modern structures should apply a unique strategy.

The endeavor of the plan should be to include subjects like sports at the affiliate state and European levels. They should do so while observing this treaty. According to Seikmann, while complying with this treaty, special attention should be paid on the subsidiarity principle and sport autonomy.6 In addition, ideal approach’s application is factored by this paper and this entails a systematic assimilation that transforms financial and legal locations.

6 Siekmann, R. (2012). The Specificity of Sport: Sporting Exceptions in EU Law

Customary sports elements should also be sustained. In regards to the financial output that sport generates, the industry should follow the European Union’s laws. However, there are sport traits that are considerable and important in regards to preference of the standards of result’s uncertainty, equitable opportunities, the economy and connection in sports. It ought to be acknowledged that the accord (Nice) requires the federations of sports to take the central roles of ensuring that solidarity is maintained at different sporting practice levels. This implies solidarity from recreational sport to top-level sport. This requires the evaluation of critical issues by the sport alliances globally. Achieving this is only possible if the systems continue being a vital aspect by strengthening unity in sports via active egalitarianism.

This treaty clearly shows the essence of considering sport’s specificity. The elements indicate that Amsterdam highlights places that are critical in stressing the social role that sports play more so the proletarian sport’s distinctiveness.7 In addition, Helsinki Report indicates that sporting activities have economic benefits. This agreement also emphasizes on the results’ uncertainty principle as well as equal opportunities. Both treaties imply that it is probable to exempt sporting policies from public law. Additionally, the sporting organizations’ rules, which form sport continuation, are important in sport’s organization. Without them, sports would be past the competition law. The fundamental rules of sport include lex ludica or the law of the game.8 Laws ought to represent cohesion. Helsinki Report emphasizes on the important freedoms that the Nice Treaty assures.

7               Anderson, J. (2010). Brussels or Boston: where lies the future of European sports law?

8               Gardiner, Boyes, Naidoo, O’Leary, and Welch. (2011). Sports Law (4th ed.)

9               Bogaert, Van Den & Vermeersch. (2006). European Law Review Sport and the EC Treaty: a tale of uneasy bedfellows?

10             Beloff, Kerr,  Demetriou, & Belof. (2012). Sports La.w

The Declarations on Sport (Amsterdam, Nice)

According to Bogaert, van Den, & Vermeersch, both the Nice and Amsterdam treaties are simply policy statements without a legal force (soft law).9 The culmination of this is the two manuscripts’ inquisition which form sport’s specificity as well as their application in concrete cases within the EU. This entails their application as well. Thus, the question that lingers in scholars’ minds is whether the two declarations were relevant to different legal issues of sports that the European Commission and the Court of Justice considered. This happens when both legal statements are used to mean that “specificity of sport” is an important part of sport’s continuation.

Consider these paradigms, the UEFA Champions League and the Deliège case. Both examples illustrate the foundation of specificity of sports in these policy statements. For instance, in the case of Deliège, the pronouncement of the court was that the society’s aim should be revered because sporting has a semblance of the community law since it has an economic value as indicated in the Article 2EC.10

In another different case, the Bosman case, the court stated that sport has a considerable social importance in the community. It stated that the Amsterdam declaration on the social role of sport augmented this case structure. This summoned the European Union bodies to give exceptional deliberation to recreational sport. This judgment was made in Lehtonen case and Meca-Medina case (1999). Subsequently, it is enclosed in the Meca-Medina that the deliberation of the court on the strategy of the public to combat doping because drugging mortifies the variation of sport from the customary values. The working paper of the commission under the title; “Development of and prospects for community action in sport”, stated that there are ethical functions of sport in the society through the principles of fair play, fair competition, team spirit and harmony.

The directive certified sport’s specificity fully within the UEFA Champions League as conveyed in the 2000’s Nice Treaty. As such, the board allowed for a mutual segment that allowed for the shift from TV rights to the harmony rules that are involved in every stage of sport. This commission agreed on the essence of upholding a definite equilibrium among football clubs in the league because it constructs interesting contests in football. 11

This facet applies to fresh players’ auspices since they are the innermost elements. This directive found that the goal of upholding a balance can easily be achieved if funds are subsidized in a cross-sectional manner. As such, the vote of the group favored the code of fiscal solidarity as documented in the 2000’s Nice Treaty. It is apparent that financial solidarity is therefore an additional aspect of the unusual sports’ characteristics.

The emphasis of the White Paper is that While determining if sporting policy should be adjusted to the competition law of the EU, an appraisal not only promises on the basis of a case-by-case as indicated in the structure of the Meca-Medina. The sporting rules scheme was dismissed by the court because it is unconnected to the EU antagonism laws’ problem to the sporting trade.12

The approval of the court was that sport’s specificity has to be measured in terms of the intellect that opposition’s restrictive results that are intrinsic to the organization of an appropriate style in different sports which is not in antagonism with the competition regulations of the EU. This emerges in cases where there are relative results to genuine sports.

11             European Commission. (2007b). White Paper on Sport: Staff Working Document.

Simply put, testing for the congruency necessitates evaluation of every folder on different merits as per their individual traits. As such, devising broad actions is unfeasible while exercising competition law in the EU sporting industry.

Constitutional and Reform (LISBON) Treaties

What was involved in the sport’s necessities in the European structure? First, it is important to note that the important Article 282 had the Lisbon Treaty’s part III. This entailed Internal Policies and Action more so, Chapter 5 of this part.13 This is because of the reality that the chapter was about the locations where the union was allowed to use supporting, balancing or coordinating rules in sport.14 Simply put, the competence of the Union to execute actions that are connected to the decisions of the Member States. As such, article 282 is naturally a softer law because its fourth paragraph led to subsequent conclusion.

To enhance shared participation in accomplishing the goals of the Treaty, European laws were to start the motivational event that entails elimination of organization laws of the Member states. It also ought to be noted that Article 282 in its third section authorizes EU to support partnership with any non-Member State as well as experienced institutes in the sports industry. Additionally, European Commission highlights a subsection of the Article 282 as a way of indicating the Union’s commitment in encouraging sporting in Europe by accepting sport’s specificity, its frame, instructive and social roles.15

12            European Commission. (2007b). White Paper on Sport: Staff Working Document.

13             Anderson, J. (2010). Modern Sports Law.

14             Siekmann, (2012). The Specificity of Sport: Sporting Exceptions in EU Law

The specificity of Sport in the Whitepaper

The EU has over time established colorful terminologies that elucidate several operational principles and concepts such as the Subsidiarity Principle. This is the standard whereby a communal phase does not entail dealing with issues. Instead, they are handled at the stage of the Member States. As such, “specificity of sports” is a widely accepted term in reference to specific elements of sport as stated in the 2000s Nice Treaty. A dissimilar paragraph of the White Paper connotes sport’s specificity. The bases of this meaning are the laws that come from the Court of Justice and the choices of the structures of the previous case. According to Seikmann (2012), specificity in the European sport may have two major basics.

The first element holds regulations and activities in sports that include detached resistance for women and men, participants’ quantity, or requirements for pledging indecision of results by maintaining spirited stability among clubs. The other element is about the structure of sport. This entails partnership in different sport and dominion, competitions’ pyramid agreement, sport’s organization on the basis of a state and private federation concept in sport’s gathering. The White Paper notes that the Court of Justice in Europe has made several conclusions so far. The statement of the court during the Bosman case for instance was that:

In view of the considerable social importance of sporting activities and in particular football in the Community, the aims of maintaining a balance between clubs by preserving a certain degree of equality and uncertainty as to results and of encouraging the recruitment and training of young players must be accepted as legitimate.”16

15             European Commission. (2007b). White Paper on Sport: Staff Working Document

Additionally, the White Paper states that according to the decree of the case, sport’s specificity will always be appreciated. However, it may not be interpreted to imply sport’s exemption from the law of the European Union. Subsequently, this paper advances to provide game’s regulations and assortment criteria’s rules. These are the rules that cover both away and home contests and those touching on the possession of different clubs which are instances of regulations in sporting that might be against the competition law of the European Union.

Practical Application of Specificity of Sport

The ECJ or the European Court of Justice acknowledged the movement liberty policy’s exclusion of athletes due to non-financial drives in Walrave, Donaand Bosman researches. Since the 1970s, this court has approved regulations that restrict troupes’ nationality from the national teams as untainted rules in sport and they ought to be barred from the Articles 49 and 39 of the EC.17 ECJ stated that in Walrave structure, the International Cycling Union’s regulations that require pacesetter to come from an associated country as a stayer in the “international cycling competitions” met the commission law of Europe.

The Bosman verdict noted that the statement made by ECJ indicated that sport is a community law’s matter because of the economic atttribute that connotes the Nice Treaty’s Article 2. This is because of the skilled and semi-professional footballers’ actions that earn them remuneration by providing employment. The ECJ came up with two bans in line with the movement liberty for sportsmen.

16             Siekmann, (2012). The Specificity of Sport: Sporting Exceptions in EU Law

17             Lewis, A. & Taylor, J. (2008). Sports Law and Practice (2nd ed.).

First, it banned discrimination on the basis of citizenship by declaring nationality quotas as revolt in sports clubs. Additionally, the court predestined difficulties in the open movement as a way of pledging complete accomplishment of players’ freedom to move. It also ought to be noted that players’ move scheme is an example of specificity in sport. This is due to the fact that transferring sportsmen from one club to another plays a vital role of enhancing team sports’ existence especially for expert players. The aim of transfer regulations is to safeguard sporting competition reliability by preventing problems that include money laundering. Nevertheless, transfer rules have to comply with the law of the EU.

ECJ stated unequivocally in Bosman ruling that a member state’s populace has the right to leave the state of residence and enter or live in another state with an aim of pursuing economic actions.19 Supplies that deter or disqualify nationalized citizens from departing their countries in order to enjoy their freedom or liberty of movement are therefore an obstruction of that freedom despite being relevant without observing the nationality of the concerned members. The restrictive relocation rules can also breach the antagonism law of the European Union. The decision of Bosman noted the profitability of expert football and consequently the EU law binds it.

The 2000s Lehtonen’s ruling saw the court affirm the deadlines’ background when it comes to transfers of the contestants who may achieve the corroborating aim of sporting contest’s parity due to late relocations which may destroy contest’s reliability and disrupt competitive equilibrium.

18             Gardiner, Boyes, Naidoo, O’Leary, and Welch. (2011). Sports Law (4th ed.)

19             Siekmann, (2012). The Specificity of Sport: Sporting Exceptions in EU Law

20             Siekmann, (2012). The Specificity of Sport: Sporting Exceptions in EU Law

As such, championships should be organized properly and this depends on the role that sporting federations play in creating a transfer window. Worth noting is the fact that late transfers can change teams’ strength during championships and this questions the equity principle. Thus, the implication of Lehtonen case is that limited labor mobility can be justified if the vital sports’ traits are met by the limitations.


The “specificity of sport” expression has been illuminated in this paper which has also stressed the essence of its survival. The implication of this expression comes from the systematic debate on legal policies and dissimilar aspects of the sporting behaviors in EU. As such, the meaning of this term simply involves certain characteristics which facilitate the existence of sport. This covers different topics including policy character, doping, discrimination, broadcasting, sports funding, competition diplomas and customs, vandalism trademarks, Olympic Games and violence among others. Principles like equal opportunities’ principles, results’ uncertainty, economy and sports relationship, and subsidiarity, make appreciating the term “specificity of sport” easy.

However, these values should co-exist with the EU policies since the decision on whether sporting legislation should be adjusted to be aligned with the EU competition law is an assessment that is feasible on a case-by-case basis only as indicated in the case of Meca-Medina. The court eradicated “pure sporting rules” ideals in this case. It termed them as irrelevant on the question of the EU contest laws of sporting trade. Reviewing this paper quickly highlights the reasons why sport’s specificity laws should be upheld. For instance, the 1999’s Helsinki report evidently aimed at maintaining and protecting the current social role and structures of sports.21

21             Ackrill & Kay(2011). “Multiple streams in EU policy-making: the case of the 2005 sugar reform

Sports’ specificity also encourages identity and sovereignty of sports because of the ability of sport to underpin its role in the cultural, educational and social sectors. Apparently, Nice Treaty notes that reflecting on sport’s specificity is indispensable for the members of the public because the Amsterdam treaty highlights the social importance of sports. 22

22             Siekmann, (2012). The Specificity of Sport: Sporting Exceptions in EU Law


Ackrill, R., and Kay, A. (2011). “Multiple streams in EU policy-making: the case of the 2005 sugar

Reform,” Journal of European Public Policy18, 72–89.

Anderson, J. (2010). “Modern Sports Law.” Oxford: Hart Publishing.

Anderson, J. (2010). “Brussels or Boston: where lies the future of European sports law? SLAP1: 17(6) 77-


Beloff, M., Kerr, T., Demetriou, M., and Belof, R. (2012). Sports Law. Oxford: Hart Publishing.

Bogaert, S. Van Den and Vermeersch, A. (2006). “European Law Review Sport and the EC Treaty:

a tale of uneasy bedfellows?,” European Law Review, 1–16.

European Commission. (2007b). White Paper on Sport: Staff Working Document. Available at:

Gardiner, S. (1997). Birth of a Legal Area: Sport and the Law or Sports Law? SATLJ 10: 5(2) 33-34

Gardiner, S., Boyes, S., Naidoo, U., O’Leary, J., and Welch, R. (2011). Sports Law (4th ed.). New York :


James, M. and Cremona, M. (2010). Sports Law. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Lewis, A. and Taylor, J. (2008). Sports Law and Practice (2nd ed.). Haywards Heath: Tottel Publishing.

Siekmann, R. (2012). The Specificity of Sport: Sporting Exceptions in EU Law. Retrieved from

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