The Court of Justice of the EU and Sport – ensuring fair play off the field

The Court of Justice of the EU and Sport – ensuring fair play off the field

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Rulings of the Court of
Justice occur in many fields, but perhaps most surprising is
its impact in the world of sport. In one of its most famous cases, brought
by the Belgian footballer Jean-Marc Bosman, the Court of Justice said that football leagues could
not impose limits on the number of foreign EU players. It also said that the system which
allowed a club to refuse to sell a player, even when their contract
had ended, was illegal issuing in the era of free transfers and allowing
a greater flow of players around the EU. Further cases confirmed the impact
of this ruling in other sports, such as basketball,
handball and cricket, and that the same rights could be
enjoyed by players from any country that had a free movement of
workers agreement with the EU. EU law also affects
the way we watch sport. In 2011, the Court ruled that
sports owners and promoters could not sell TV rights on
an exclusive national basis and that people could
not be prevented from using satellite decoder cards from
a different EU country to watch games. In another decision, the General Court
confirmed that countries can insist that all matches of the Football
World Cup and European Championship be broadcast on free-to-air
television in the public interest. In this way the ECJ ensures that fair play
occurs not only on, but off the field too.

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