Academic journal article The International Sports Law Journal

Landmark ECJ Rulings in FIFA & UEFA 'Crown Jewels' Cases

Academic journal article The International Sports Law Journal

Landmark ECJ Rulings in FIFA & UEFA 'Crown Jewels' Cases

Article excerpt

On 17 February, 2011, the General Court (formerly the Court of First Instance) (Seventh Chamber) of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) handed down two landmark Judgements in the so-called 'Crown Jewels' cases brought by FIFA, the World Governing Body of Football, and UEFA, the European Governing Body of Football.

At the heart of these cases is Article 3a of Council Directive 89/552/EEC of 3 October 1989 on the coordination of certain provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action in Member States concerning the pursuit of television broadcasting activities (OJ 1989 L 298, p. 23), as inserted by Directive 97/36/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 June 1997 amending [Directive 89/552] (OJ 1997 L 202, p. 60), known, in short form and colloquially, as 'The Television Without Frontiers' Directive. Para. 1 of this Article provides as follows:

"1. Each Member State may take measures in accordance with Community law to ensure that broadcasters under its jurisdiction do not broadcast on an exclusive basis events which are regarded by that Member State as being of major importance for society in such a way as to deprive a substantial proportion of the public in that Member State of the possibility of following such events via live coverage or deferred coverage on free television. If it does so, the Member State concerned shall draw up a list of designated events, national or non-national, which it considers to be of major importance for society. It shall do so in a clear and transparent manner in due and effective time. In so doing the Member State concerned shall also determine whether these events should be available via whole or partial live coverage, or where necessary or appropriate for objective reasons in the public interest, whole or partial deferred coverage."

In the FIFA case, The United Kingdom and the Belgian Governments had decided to list all the FIFA World Cup matches as sporting events which they consider to be of "major importance for society" in the UK and Belgium and should, therefore, be shown on free-to-air television. …

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