Sporting Rules/Regulations Part 2

A response to the question that critically considers the self-regulatory sporting rules and the impact of the same on the UK Domestic Laws, The ECJ jurisprudence and the inpact of the EC White Paper on Sport: written by Football Agents and Sports Lawyers:

1. UEFA licensing

UEFA is the most powerful European sport self-regulating body. The UEFA history is marked by its evolution from a relatively straightforward construction as an administrator of European clubs, leagues, and continental competitions under its jurisdiction, to the current iteration of multi-dimensional (seemingly omni-dimensional) sport government.' It is the broader, more intricate arena of financial fair play regulation that now best define the UEFA mandate and its position within the European cultural, social, and economic fabric.

'Licensing' is a term that is most commonly applied in two distinct contexts; each has relevance in this review of how UEFA operates. The first UEFA-relevant meaning is the regulation of how intellectual property (IP) associated with a particular club is marketed. The second is the annual membership and associated permission granted by UEFA to a specific club or national league to participate in UEFA sanctioned competitions.8 Whilst the second aspect of licensing, especially the current 'Financial Fair Play Regulations' (FFPR) that is the focus in this section, the IP rights are briefly discussed as they are reflective of the economic power and emotional hold that football exerts across European Community life generally.

IP rights

In the recent case of Football Association (FA) v QC Leisure,9 the European Court of Justice (ECJ) determined a series of issues that centred on the legality of foreign television signal decoder cards licensed for watching FA league matches.1° The ECJ held that the exclusive FA broadcast licensing agreements were contrary to TFEU art.101 (1) the EU principles of free competition and constituted a TFEU art.101 violation.11 However in Arsenal v Reed the ECJ permitted UEFA member football clubs to maximise their merchandising IP rights value, at the apparent expense of private entrepreneurs.12 The ECJ held that notwithstanding evidence that the consumer public regarded the defendant's products as "...badges of support, loyalty or affiliation"13 the actions constituted a Trademark Directive violation.14. Whilst Arsenal v Reed is consistent with prevailing EU trademark law authorities, it is suggested that IP licensing consistency is called into question when the results in Arsenal and Football Association (FA) V QC

8 See generally UEFA Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations 2010, art 3 definitions.

9 Football Association Premier League Ltd v QC Leisure (C-403/08); Murphy v Media Protection Services Ltd (C-429/08) European Court of Justice (Grand Chamber), 04 October 2011.

I° Ibid, para 6-11. II Ibid, para 144.

12 Arsenal Football Club Plc v Reed (C-206/01) [2001] 2 C.M.L.R. 23.

13 Ibid, 27.

14 Art.5(1)(a); Arsenal, 33, 34.

Leisure are compared.

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An original essay written by Football Agents and Sports Lawyers


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