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Request for clarification on changes to football governance in the light of the recent European Court of Justice ruling

Question écrite de M. Marco CAMPOMENOSI - Commission européenne


Subject: Request for clarification on changes to football governance in the light of the recent European Court of Justice ruling

Football is a mass phenomenon, is played by many people and is a profitable industry that attracts significant investment. It is therefore a key component of the EU economy and a major force in European sport and society.

It is clear that, in its current form, football is being run in a way that has broken from its historical roots.

Despite its socio-economic significance, football is inadequately regulated at the global level, and the world of politics has made the mistake of leaving its governance to the football associations, which enjoy a dominant position with fragile governance mechanisms in place.

Most significantly, wealth in football is being distributed in an increasingly uneven manner, something that runs counter to the fairness of competitive sport1, which is a fundamental principle enshrined in EU law2.

The new format adopted for the Champions League will only exacerbate the gap between rich and poor and penalise those national leagues that have not instituted corrective, solidarity-based mechanisms.

It is therefore crucial to promote a fairer and more inclusive version of football by ensuring fair competition on the field and at the financial level.

In view of the above:

1. In the Commission’s opinion, to what extent are Europe’s national and continental football competitions solidarity-based, and to what extent is the relationship between national and continental leagues solidarity-based?

2. What specific actions will the Commission take to guarantee that the principles of economic sustainability, fair wealth distribution and fair competition are upheld?

3. Are any legislative initiatives being put forward to prevent associations and businesses in this sector from abusing their dominant positions, a state of affairs that is clearly incompatible with EU competition law?

Submitted:9.4.2024

1 CJEU Case C-333/21(European Superleague Company).

2 European Court of Justice Case C-233/20 and Article 165(2) TFEU.

Réponse - Commission européenne

Diffusée le 30 mai 2024

Answer given by Ms Ivanova on behalf of the European Commission

(31 May 2024)

The Commission recognises the autonomy of sport governing bodies and supports a European Sport Model based on features including solidarity and interdependence between elite and grassroots sport.

There are different solidarity mechanisms in European football, both at domestic and continental level. For example, for the next European Club Competitions cycle (2024/2027), UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) decided to almost double the proportion of total revenue distributed to teams not taking part in the three European competitions, bringing it to more than 7%.

The Commission’s study of 2022 on a European Sport Model (3) describes the functioning of different solidarity mechanisms in sport, including in football.

The Commission will continue to engage with stakeholders to put in place a healthy ecosystem and competitive balance based on financial sustainability and solidarity. It will safeguard and promote, within the limits of EU competences, a European Sport Model aligned with EU values.

1 ∙ ⸱ CJEU Case C-333/21(European Superleague Company).

2 ∙ ⸱ European Court of Justice Case C-233/20 and Article 165(2) TFEU.

3 ∙ ⸱ https://op.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/-/publication/d10b4b5b-e159-11ec-a534-01aa75ed71a1/language-en






| | ) Currently, there are no legislative initiatives on these specific issues. Moreover, in December 2023, the European Court of Justice in three sport-related rulings (4), underlined that Article 165 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union confers a supporting competence on the EU and does not constitute a legal basis for harmonisation at EU level of laws and regulations in the field of sport (5).

4 ∙ ⸱ Judgments in the Cases C-333/21, European Superleague Company SL (ECLI:EU:C:2023:1011); C-124/21 P, International Skating Union

(ECLI:EU:C:2023:1012); and C-680/21, SA Royal Antwerp Football Club (ECLI:EU:C:2023:1010). 5 ∙ ⸱ See e.g. judgment in the Case C-333/21, European Superleague Company SL (ECLI:EU:C:2023:1011), para. 99.



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