Financial fair play regulations

Question

Is the Commission aware that applying competition law in the strict economic sense to football clubs can undermine competition in the sporting sense?

Is it willing to approve schemes to equalise the resources of football clubs (such as UEFA’s Financial Fair Play Regulations) which have the effect of attenuating the concentration of wealth and sporting talent in the hands of fewer and fewer clubs?

Answer

The Commission fully acknowledges the specific nature of sport and has taken due account thereof in numerous past decisions relating to competition law, such as the decision relating to the joint selling of commercial rights for the UEFA Champions League.

The Commission cannot proceed with a general assessment or approval of schemes ‘to equalise the resources of football clubs’ as described by the Honourable Member. The Commission can only assess the compatibility of any schemes with EU competition law on a case-by-case basis.

As regards the specific case of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules, on 24 October 2014, the Commission rejected a complaint lodged by a player’s agent, Mr Striani, alleging inter alia that these rules infringe EU competition law. The Commission based its rejection decision on the fact that the complainant raised broadly the same issues as those included in the complaint before the Brussels Court of First Instance. In the course of 2014, the Commission received several similar complaints from a number of football supporters, including supporters of Paris Saint-Germain and one supporters’ association. The Commission is in the process of examining these complaints.

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