This month, we have profiled Stefano Bastianon’s article on, The ISU Commission’s Decision and the Slippery Side of Eligibility Rules published on Asser International Sports Law Blog on January 05, 2018. In this article he analyses the EU Commission’s recent decision, which held that the International Skating Union’s (ISU) eligibility rule which imposed severe penalties including lifetime bans on athletes participating in competitions not approved by the ISU breached EU competition law. He also analyses ISU’s statement, which criticized the EU Commission decision for failing to consider the specific nature of sports by putting commercial interests ahead of the principles of integrity, health and safety that protect fair play in sport.
An excerpt has been reproduced below
“….the EU Commission’s decision is not about the pyramid structure of European sports. The principle of a single federation for each sport and the right of the federations to organise competition from local to international levels is a milestone of the European model of sport. In this context the decision does not question the right of sports federations to enact rules necessary to achieve those goals. However, the ISU decision confirms that sport is not just for fun, but it is also a business. Therefore, although the Commission does not intend “to be the referee in every dispute about sport”, in matters dealing with the economic dimension of sport, sports federations must understand that the business of sports has to comply with competition rules. This means that the sole fact that eligibility rules or any other rule enacted by sports federations pursue a legitimate objective (for example, the protection of athletes’ health, the integrity and the proper conduct of sport, the fight against doping) does not represent a valid justification to put those rules outside the scope of EU law…”