07/12/2011 December 2011 - European dimensions of Sport
On Monday 12 December Deputy Santiago Fisas Ayxela’s (Spain, EPP) report on the European dimension in sport will be debated in the plenary session of the European parliament in Strasbourg. Since the implementation of the Lisbon treaty the European Union has had powers in this area (article 165 of TFUE). The report underlines the fact that one of the objectives of the European Union’s sports policy is to ‘respond to and highlight the objectives of both professional and amateur sports.’ So, several aspects of sport are dealt with: it looks at the link between sport and education, international transfers of players, and also looks at security in stadiums. Here is an overview of the main points contained in the report.
First, the report demands that the European Commission puts forward a specific budget for sports policies within the context of the multi-year budget, highlighting the importance of sport in areas such as public health, culture and the economy. In addition to the request for financing, it says that the social dimension of sport effects many sectors; education, health, the fight against discrimination and also stadium security.
European Deputies are now asking the European Commission to create a European day of sport in order to promote the positive aspects of sporting activities on a social and cultural level, and deputies also support the creation of a European Capital of Sport.
The social aspects of sport
Article 165 TFEU gives the European Union competencies in the sports sector. These competencies are support competencies.
They are defined, within the terms of article 6 TFEU as ‘ competencies in order to implement actions to support, coordinate or finish actions of member states.’
Apart from sport, The EU has support competencies in the following domains:
- Protection and improvement of public health;
- education,professional training , youth;
- civil protection;
- administrative cooperation.
In the education sector, the rapport encourages member states to adopt the guidelines so as to integrate sport into all levels of teaching. These guidelines could allow for sport to be integrated into all places of learning. The development of cooperation between these establishments and sports clubs is also something that should be encouraged in all member states. The social aspects of sports training is alluded to, especially how it can help to ‘put vulnerable young people back on the right track.’
Social inclusion is another theme dealt with in this report. It highlights the potential for social integration through sport. So it encourages member states to reinforce grants allocated to organisations that work for integration of vulnerable people who are more likely to be excluded. Another strategy put forward is the establishment of a mobility program for young athletes and their trainers, so as to establish best practice and to support European and sporting values; fair play, respect of others and intercultural dialogue.
The report also underscores the fight against discrimination. It encourages sporting organisations to adopt programs to train professionals and volunteers in preventing and dealing with all kinds of discrimination. Also, it reaffirms that there should not be discrimination based on gender. So Euro-deputies have invited the Council, the Commission, Member states and sporting bodies to implement anti-discrimination legislation, especially with concerning homophobia and discrimination against transsexuals.
In addition to numerous measures against discrimination, the report looks at male and female equality in sport. It also looks at sport as a conduit for female emancipation. In invites member states and sporting organisations to encourage equal access for women to sport, even if they are from disadvantaged areas, immigrants or from ethnic minorities. The report looks at religious or cultural factors that parents use to forbid their daughters participating in sport and swimming at school.
While looking at the social aspects of sport, the report doesn’t forget to highlight the health benefits of sport, and also denounces doping. European deputies think that the European Unions signing of the anti-doping convention will allow the implementation of the code of the world anti-doping agency in all member states.
Another negative phenomenon which the report deals with is security in stadiums. Euro-deputies are in favour of banning violent or racist fans from the stadiums. They also invite member states to coordinate among themselves to create minimal norms for stadium security.
The economic aspect of sport
With 15 million employees in Europe, Sport is a non-negligible sector of the economy. In view of the increasing economic value of sport, deputies highlighted the need for acknowledging training and the professional qualifications of sports professionals within a single European framework. It is within the domestic European market that sport should develop, and so the report has asked the Commission to protect sports competitions against abuse from gambling.
Betting constitutes a type of commercial exploitation of these competitions, so they must be protected against match fixing, and recognise the right to intellectual property for the competition organisers.
The European Union has now been interested in sport for many years. Sport as an economic activity has been dealt with by the court of justice since the 1970s within the Walrave ruling (1974).
In 1995 the CJEU established the famous Bosman ruling with regard to player transfers.
In 1998, sport was among the European council conclusions, which highlighted the need to maintain the social function of sport and to fight against doping.
In 2000 a declaration was adopted in Nice acknowledging the specificities of Sport.
In 2007, the European Commission published the white paper on sport.
In 2009 the Lisbon treaty gave the EU new powers within the sport sector.
In January 2011, the European Commission published a communication entitled ‘Developing the European dimension of sport’.
In response to this commercial issue, the report also deals with volunteering. It asks establishments, in the context of social recognition of volunteering, for appropriate training for volunteers, as well as recognition of any certification they obtain. Deputies have also asked the Commission to study the feasibility of a legal and fiscal framework especially for sports associations.
The organisation of sport
The part of the report that deals with organisation in sport deals with the issue of the importance of good governance in the world of sport. It especially refers to the profession of sports agents. Deputies feel that this profession should be regulated. Sports agents should have minimum qualifications, received at an establishment for higher level education in the EU, and have their fiscal domicile within the EU. Also, the report suggests the creation of a European private register for players’ agents. This register would avoid conflict of interests especially for athletes who are minors.
Faced with many current problems (money laundering, lack of transparency in player transfers, match-fixing etc) European deputies are asking sports federations to work in collaboration with member states in order to protect the integrity of sport. They also want to ensure that there are penalties for all kinds of infractions on the integrity of sport. Better cooperation with public authorities, sports authorities and the operators of betting companies should be established in order to deal with the problem of fraud in sport. Collaboration with Europol and Eurojust should also be looked into.
Cooperation with other countries and international organisations
The report looks to encourage cooperation in the EU, other countries and the international organisations of sport. This is especially important with regard to player transfers. Deputies state that they are waiting for the results of the transfer regulation system put in place in 2010, so as to examine the transparency and financial fairness of these transfers, and to fights against corruption and exploitation. They also call for the clubs to respect the legislation dealing with immigration, especially when they employ young players from other countries, and the possibility of their returning to their country of origin if their career doesn’t take off. It is with respect to these issues that cooperation with non member countries is essential, especially for developing countries.
For more information
- 21 November 2011 Report on the European dimensions of sport- European Parliament
- 18 January 2011 European Commission communication ‘Developing the European dimensions of sport.’ [pdf]– Eur-lex
- White paper on sport- European Commission