From Case-by-Case to a General Playbook!
Olfers, Marjan, The International Sports Law Journal
1. According to the European Court of Justice's ruling in the Meca Medina case, the regulatory aspects of sports subject to review against competition law can only be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. In that decision, the European Court of Justice dismissed the concept of "pure sporting rules" as irrelevant to the question of whether EU competition laws apply to sports.
2. In Meca Medina, the European Court of Justice acknowledged that the specific nature of sports must be taken into account, in that competition-restricting effects inherent in the organisation of competitive sporting events do not conflict with the rules of EU competition so long as those effects are proportionate to the legitimate and purely sporting interest being pursued thereby, meaning that the specific elements of each individual case must be considered. Accordingly, following from this decision in the Sports White Book the European Commission cannot formulate any general guidelines for the application of competition law in the sports sector.
This is nonsense, the idea of pure sporting rules, or "sports-inherent" rules must (!) be the guideline for competition law. More to the point, if there is any immunity under application of the free movement rule due to the "sports-specificity" of the rule, then in my opinion, the inevitable consequence is that this rules out unfair restriction of competition under Article 81, EC Treaty, as well as abuse of an economically dominant position under Article 82, EC Treaty, and that the sporting rule rather promotes competition, is efficient, and as such is entirely legitimate. General guidelines can very well be formulated for the sports sector. If we cannot make application of the law any gentler on the sporting sector, shouldn't we at least try to simplify that application?
A. Try to follow the sport-specific rules and distantiate from non-economic grounds …
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Publication information: Article title: From Case-by-Case to a General Playbook!. Contributors: Olfers, Marjan - Author. Journal title: The International Sports Law Journal. Issue: 1-2 Publication date: January-April 2008. Page number: 93+. © 2006 ASSER International Sports Law Centre. COPYRIGHT 2008 Gale Group.
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