Sport

Sport in Europe

Description of Sport

The Concise Encyclopedia of the European Union describes sport in the following terms: [1] In the late 1990s Competition Commissioner Karel Van Miert began to target sport, starting with Formula One motor racing and Association Football. At issue were fundamental questions. Is sport a business, subject to Community laws on restraint of trade, or a voluntary activity like a club? And if professional sport is a business, does that interpretation extend to its regulation and to those many areas where the dividing line between amateurs and professionals is blurred?

In 1995 Van Miert had won an important legal victory, assuring professional footballers of freedom to play without restriction for clubs throughout the Eu (see more in this European encyclopedia). In 1998 he signalled his intention to challenge, as an abuse of dominant position, the monopoly enjoyed by the FIA, the Formula One ruling body – a monopoly which enabled it to decide track venues for races and to command vast television fees. At the same time, Van Miert offered a not dissimilar challenge to football’s governing authority, UEFA. Against him, it was argued that sports without firm central direction easily decline into lax standards. With large sums at stake, the stage was set for complex legal battles before the European Court of Justice.

Description of Sport

The Concise Encyclopedia of the European Union describes sport in the following terms: [1] Recognising the hold of sport on popular affections, the Commission seeks to identify the EU with sporting events. A vintage year was 1992, in which the Community sponsored the Tour de France and took advantage of the coincidence that both the Winter and the Summer Olympics were taking place in Europe (see more in this European encyclopedia). A naive attempt to have member states’ athletes compete in a unified EU team at Barcelona was vetoed by the European Olympic Committee, but the Community, despite the Olympic Charter’s ban on political propaganda, spent over million on advertising during the opening ceremonies. The result was a spectacular show in which the darkened stadium was transformed into the 12-star European flag by spectators waving blue and yellow torches. Other sports which the Community sponsors include yachting (the Treaty of Rome has twice participated in round-the-world races), tennis (the European Community Championship for indoor tennis has been supported financially by the Commission since 1986) and swimming (see more in this European encyclopedia). In 1991 the European Sports Forum was set up, a body which brings together government and EU officials, together with various national sports federations, to advise the newly created sports sector of the Commission’s tenth (‘Information’) Directorate-General – doubtless a welcome development to those who believe in the image-building opportunities of state-sponsored sport. Ironically, the only sport that arouses spontaneous pro-European sentiments is golf, whose biennial Ryder Cup contest against the USA is entirely free from Community involvement.

Resources

Notas y References

  1. Based on the book “A Concise Encyclopedia of the European Union from Aachen to Zollverein”, by Rodney Leach (Profile Books; London)

See Also

Resources

Notas y References

  1. Based on the book “A Concise Encyclopedia of the European Union from Aachen to Zollverein”, by Rodney Leach (Profile Books; London)

See Also

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