Cotonou Agreement application in EU sport labor — DK

on .

(More Cotonou discussion archives available upon request)

Yes it’s an interesting story. What strikes me besides the legal issues is
that the Cotonou agreement has been in force since 2000 and it is not until
now that a club, and a small club, raises the issue. Not even the major
clubs in Denmark that have full time lawyers on their staff noticed this. I
guess it just goes to show that the level of awareness of rights is still
very low and the unclear legal frame in European sports a very pressing
issue to be dealt with – difficult to make regulations when you can’t
foresee the EU’s actions.

Tassos, thanks for pointing out this very interesting issue. I’d gladly
clarify the case:

Randers FC, a Danish Superleague club, posed a question to the Danish
Football Federation, DBU, for them to confirm that they could put all their
African players on the field at the same time. They referred to the Cotonou
agreement as well as DBU’s regulations that state that: a team in the
tournament can use an unlimited number of players with citizensship from the
following countries: (1) EU countries (2) EEA countries Norway, Iceland and
Switzerland (3) the countries that at any time may have entered into an
official coorperation or association agreement with the European Union (my

The DBU sought legal counselling and the answer was clear that the current
African players for Randers FC could all be on the field at the same time
seeing that the Cotonou agreement falls under point 3 in the DBU

The DBU has acknowledged that their regulations might not have foreseen this
situation. This season they have to allow Randers FC to put their players on
the field, however they are looking into changing their rules to “close this
gap” in their regulations. They will be looking in to different
possibilities in the near future with their eye on their European neighbours
where salary minimums, sports or geographical criteria are used to limit the
number of non EU players.

Since the case did not go to court there are no transcripts it’s a pure
administrative decision.

Should you need any further information on the case please do not hesitate
to contact me, I’ll see what I can find.

Best regards
Bettina Kuperman, LLM
TSE Consulting

The interesting developments in sport law and policy from the Old
Continent continue.
The matter of the Cotonou agreement b/t the EU and African, Caribbean,
and Pacific (ACP) States has been a favorite subject of discussion in
recent past. Attached below are some important contributions and I
recommend Roberto Branco Martins' article from 2004 in the ISLJ re:
Kolpak, trade association agreements, and possible extensions (check
Footnote 6).

It appears a Danish High Court (colleagues from Denmark please
correct, the article I reviewed was in Greek) has rendered the
application of the Cotonou agreement appropriate in Danish soccer
competition, thus allowing four African state nationals to participate
w/o using foreign players' spots on their team (Raders, sp?).
The said article discusses the potential impact for EU member states'
national courts' decisions that may be forthcoming, prior to any Court
of First Instance (CFI)/European Court of Justice (ECJ) litigation,
European Commission (EC) policy intervention, and developments w/i the
sport federations.

To kick things off, has there been any discussion in Denmark for the
aforementioned application in basketball and other sports at present?
Any discussion of the federations proceeding with CFI/ECJ motions?

Further, is anyone in possession of an English translation of the case
transcript from Denmark? I believe our colleagues would like to have
it for reference.

Any further references you deem pertinent, please advise for our review.

I rest here. Please find related links below.

Best wishes



Martins, R. B. (2004). The Kolpak Case: Bosman Times 10? International
Sport Law
Journal, 1-2, 26-33.


For an overview of the Cotonou agreement:

For cricket aficionados, Simon Boyes' ESLJ article on the same matter: