European Parliament Resolution of 29 March 2007 on the Future of Professional Football in Europe

Article excerpt

The European Parliament,

--having regard to the Helsinki Report of 10 December 19991 and to the Nice Declaration of 8 December 20002 on the specific characteristics of sport and its social function in Europe,

--having regard to Articles 17 and III-282 of the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe (the Constitutional Treaty),

--having regard to the UK Presidency initiative on European football, which resulted in the "Independent European Sport Review 2006",

--having regard to the case-law of the Court of Justice of the European Communities (the Court of Justice), the Court of First Instance and the Commission's decisions in sports-related matters,

--having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,

--having regard to the report of the Committee on Culture and Education and the opinions of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection and the Committee on Legal Affairs (A6-0036/2007),

A. whereas the Commission has underlined in the Helsinki Report the need for a partnership between football's governing bodies and public authorities for the good governance of the game, which fully respects the self-regulatory nature of professional sport,

B. whereas European sport, and football in particular, is an inalienable part of European identity, European culture and citizenship, and the European Football Model, characterised by open sports competitions within a pyramid structure in which several hundred thousand amateur clubs and millions of volunteers and players form the base for the top professional clubs, is the result of longstanding democratic tradition and grass-roots support in the community as a whole;

C. whereas football plays an important social and educational role, and is an effective instrument for social inclusion and multicultural dialogue, and needs to play an active part in counteracting discrimination, intolerance, racism and violence, as many of such incidents are still taking place in and around stadiums, and whereas professional football clubs and leagues also play a vital social and cultural role in their local and national communities;

D. whereas professional football has both an economic and a non-economic dimension,

E. whereas the economic aspects of professional football are subject to Community law, and the case-law recognises the specificity of sport and the social and educational role played by football in Europe,

F. whereas it is thus the responsibility of the national and European political and sports authorities to ensure that, when Community law is applied to professional football, it does not compromise its social and cultural purposes, by developing an appropriate legal framework, which fully respects the fundamental principles of specificity of professional football, autonomy of its bodies and subsidiarity,

G. whereas it was decided, in view of the growing importance of sport in the European Union's various policies (freedom of movement, recognition of qualifications, competition, health and audiovisual policies), to include sport in the Constitutional Treaty as an area of EU competence (under Articles 17 and III-282); and whereas the Constitutional Treaty has not been ratified by all of the Member States, and the Nice Declaration on sport in the EU alone is not sufficient to deal with the current problems, which go beyond national dimensions and accordingly call for European solutions,

H. whereas the greater professionalisation and commercialisation of sport in general and football in particular has made EC law much more relevant in this area, a fact reflected in the growing number of cases pending before the Court of Justice and the Commission,

--this has greatly exacerbated the problem of legal uncertainty and the sectors concerned increasingly see an approach based solely on treating cases individually as inadequate, a view also documented in the study commissioned by a number of sports ministers in the EU Member States and recently published under the title 'Independent European Sport Review 2006',

--it is not clear, for example, whether the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) rule stipulating that teams must contain a minimum number of home-grown players, a provision which is extremely important for youth development, would, if it were reviewed by the Court of Justice, prove to be consistent with Article 12 of the EC Treaty,

I. …

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