Sports Law

European and antitrust law

Every competition has rules: not only sporting, but also economic. Antitrust law and European fundamental freedoms are among the most important economic rules, especially in the sports industry. We support you in drafting association regulations and sports law contracts in conformity with antitrust and European law or in having them reviewed by a court.

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The world of sport is usually organised in a pyramid structure both nationally and internationally, meaning that there is only one international federation for each sport and only one national member federation per country. International and national federations thus often operate within the scope of European and/or national antitrust law. Strategic decisions and individual contracts, must therefore be put to scrutiny at an early stage for their compatibility with antitrust law. This is all the more true because the consequences of a violation of antitrust law can be very serious.

More than any other area of law, advice on antitrust law requires intimate knowledge of the relevant market. Thanks to decades of advice in sports, we have excellent industry knowledge and combine this with proven expertise in antitrust law. Accordingly, we regularly advise clients in sports on issues of German and European antitrust law, in particular on the drafting of regulations and equipment contracts.

Due to the pyramid structure of sport, the European fundamental freedoms, which are normally only applicable to state action, often also apply to regulations and decisions by sports associations. A widely known example of this is the “Bosman” ruling of the European Court of Justice. We regularly advise associations on the compatibility of their regulations with European fundamental freedoms and represent a wide variety of clients in the field of sport in litigation or arbitration in which precisely this compatibility is disputed.

Notable cases

  • Antitrust and European law advice to the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) with respect to their regulations
  • Antitrust law advice to the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), in particular on equipment rules and contracts
  • Antitrust and European law advice to and representation of the German Junior Basketball Bundesliga in relation to foreign player rules
  • Antitrust law advice to the International Rugby League (IRL) regarding its rules on the recognition of third-party competitions
  • Antitrust law advice to a large national sports federation in respect of its relationship with the domestic professional league