G-14 and others Vs UEFA

on .

Thanks Alex, this was one of the first documents that I thought of… If anyone else is further interested in relevant contributions and a collection of material written on the subject, as well as looking at exemption arguments from both sides of the pond, please advise.

A twist on the matter is this, from the basketball side:
Unlike G-14 and/v. UEFA/FIFA, ULEB (organizing the Euroleague and ULEB Cup) after a period of breaking away (2000-2004) had joined forces with FIBA Europe (the European arm of the international basketball federation, FIBA). Recently (Spring and summer 2007) we almost came close to another fallout, which could be elaborated if you are interested (essentially dealing with controls and restraints FIBA Europe imposed on ULEB and the latter agreed upon). This formal position, though, may signify an immediate “break-up” as FIBA Europe’s president, George Vassilakopoulos — V. for short – is one of the most avid supporters of an exemption and ISFs allowed to roam as deemed appropriate. There is sure to be a formal reaction triggered by this letter.

It is pretty offensive and remarkable that we still refer to ways allowing… what? Otherwise unlawful restraints… for what purpose? The objectives pursued (competitive balance, grassroots development, athletes’ welfare) as has been pretty extensively documented by our colleagues’ scholarship have not been adequately and sufficiently served by any means through which ISFs have tried to perpetuate an otherwise outdated model. What would e.g. the “homegrown rule” (indirectly violating Art. 39 as Roberto Branco nicely posed recently) and certain frustrating state NGBs’ nationality quotas (still in effect!) accomplish that would have to necessarily involve such restraints?
We shouldn’t even have to go through an analysis of other less restrictive means, which would accomplish the same objectives. The present restraints (either elegantly or bluntly posed as the two above examples) are plain wrong and in violation of EU Law.
Even though some ECJ Justices and, importantly, a significant EC “socio-cultural” caucus have accepted that such measures would have a legitimate foundation and perhaps would pass the “muster” (of both if not only of the EC), arguably there should not in any way be any discussion about an exemption as that would allow uncontrolled violations of athletes’ rights, and clubs’ economic viability/competitive equity…

Anyway we cut it, let’s just think of what that would mean practically (allowing ISFs freedom to roam, legislate, and govern their affairs):
– Inequity in competition, absent any further restraints imposed by ISFs (at the same time, the breakaway ULEB, as would be the case of the G-14, would not accomplish any competitive balance and equity goals w/o caps, redistribution of TV revenue, etc). At this point, although the “solidarity payments” in both football and basketball (I have no info on handball, please advise) appear somewhat OK for grassroots investment (note that in basketball, though, there are no objective criteria when two member Associations disagree on the transfer fund, deferring to… some ad-hoc FIBA centralized board of three including the Gen Sec., appalling!) however in re: transfer systems w/ training and development contributions, there are outright age discriminatory criteria and a host of other restrictive measures that just do not jibe with EU Law provisions. We could go around and around discussing how they could be held reasonable under, say a sui generis Rule of Reason test, but when you have outright age barriers, nationality criteria, no compensation/insurance in return for players services for your (national teams) competitions, etc (regardless of how much we all love our countries, these guys and gals risk their livelihoods each time, and clubs their important investment!) how can one support that they could be found EU Law-abiding?
– Creation of a segmented/segregated world for EU sport. Local interests would promote local talent, no chance to promote equity in competition when looking at the broader picture of a Community adaptation and Common Market development with implementation of the bedrock principles of the freedoms posed by the Treaty… And if the argument is, well if you want a puree of EU sport, including the influx of “Cotonou (ACP) players” then be ready to lose any local support and national identity/support for your teams, I’d be willing to take that, if it promotes freedom of movement and competition under equitable (not equal, rather merit-based) terms. If you are good, you should be allowed to move and play anywhere. I bet V. and Blatter would not like to see nationalistic pride and hooliganism perpetuate anyway, correct?
– More importantly, referring to our colleagues’ works, no participation in decision-making by the ones directly affected by these restraints! Where are we going without clubs’ contribution and athletes’ participation? (no CBA yet, where is FIFPro? In basketball we do have a new venture, http://www.ubeplayers.com/ which hopefully will have some say, and some advocates of these players’ unions were recently chastised… because they demanded insurance for the lower division club athletes by their NGBs! Shocking!)
– State governments and paraphrasing my dear compatriot V. “professional sport federation administrators” (as he is always complaining about these “paratroopers”, financial investors and professional business managers that have befallen on the noble, unblemished, pure, and true world of sport) doing as they please, legislating on whatever they find reasonable at the time, centralizing procedures, arguably preserving the old pyramid, but I’d venture the conjecture that they would have the same motives with the ones they complain about, revenue for them, the constituents that support them, and the preservation of decision-making power. If anyone is interested, a look at how the most recent FIBA Europe elections took place would be pretty indicative, if not insulting to one’s intelligence!

Obviously, these lines could continue on…

Having said all that, the clubs administrators need to find ways to preemptively address any policy developments. And if that were the case, any breakaway leagues need to have a careful governance structure, attending to those time-transcending values embedded in all sport-loving Europeans, the balance, equity, and welfare principles posed above.
But we won’t have to go there… Europeans have a powerful intellect, and incredible resourcefulness. We’ll be OK. It’s just the relics we’ve got to clean up! I can’t believe we won’t!

Be well


On 10/9/07, Alexandre M. Mestre wrote:

Confidencial e protegido por sigilo profissional l Confidential and protected by attorney privilege

Dear all,


Please find herewith a modest contribution for the debate. It is an article published in 2005, but I think it is still up to date due to the fact that as far as sport is concerned the Draft Reform Treaty has almost the same text.


Alexandre Miguel Mestre
PLMJ – A. M. Pereira, Sáragga Leal
Oliveira Martins, Júdice e Associados





—–Original Message—–
From: Sport and the European Union On Behalf Of Jean-Christian Drolet
Sent: terça-feira, 9 de Outubro de 2007 15:14
Subject: Re: G-14 and others Vs UEFA


Thanks for the link,


Nice to see that some of the sport people are still thinking with their head.


By the way, this sporting exception could be justified if someone actually came up with an argurment saying why running a football club is that different from running a law firm. All the classic arguments (need for opponent, rules of the game, etc…) being excluded from EU Law by the Deliège deicsion I am still waiting for someone to come up with a convincing plea on that…


Jean-Christian Drolet

——– Original-Nachricht ——–

> Datum: Tue, 9 Oct 2007 11:30:30 +0200

> Von: “Alfonso Rincón”

> Betreff: G-14 and others Vs UEFA


> http://www.g14.com/news/g14press.html


> Clubs Send Joint Letter to EU Governments Regarding Reform Treaty


> G-14, Euroleague Basketball and Group Club Handball, which together

> represent leading European clubs in the sports of football,

> basketball and handball, have outlined their shared views regarding the

> nature of the relationship between sport and EU law

> in a joint letter to European heads of government regarding EU Reform

> Treaty.




> Alfonso Rincón García Loygorri

> Instituto Universitario de Estudios Europeos

> Universidad CEU San Pablo