POSTED: November 30th 2009

IOC and FIFA welcome new dawn for sport under EU's Treaty of Lisbon

Jacques Rogge: progress achieved /
Jacques Rogge: progress achieved /

SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT / Sports Features Communications

LONDON, Nov 30: International sport’s governing authorities have welcomed, jointly, the new era promised by the ratification of the European Union’s Lisbon Treaty which comes into effect from tomorrow (December 1).

A statement issued jointly by the International Olympic Committee and world football federation FIFA notes that “for the first time ever, [this] will provide a legal basis for sport – something for which the Olympic and sports movement has been fighting for the last 15 years. Articles Six and 165 stress the significance of sport in Europe, recognise its specific nature and define the promotion of sport as a Community objective.”

IOC president Jacques Rogge said: “We have come a long way. I thank the member states for their strong commitment to sport over the last years. The impact of sport in the EU is huge, as is the influence of EU policies on sport. It really is time to move from a case-by-case approach to an environment where the specific characteristics of sport can be taken into account properly.”

Specificity keynote

Sepp Blatter, president of FIFA, stressed the importance of the content of article 165 for the future of sport.

He added: “Recognition of the specificity of sport is about protecting its universality, the foremost characteristic of its specific nature, in a world which is increasingly divided, and about maintaining its structures, which guarantee balance at the heart of every sport, for example between amateur football and professional football, between club football and international football, and in terms of protecting the national identity of clubs, etc.

“It is also about the educational and social role of sport, and about safeguarding fair play and the openness of competitions in the face of challenges which are increasingly threatening the uncertainty of sporting results.”

Blatter believed the reference to sport in the Lisbon Treaty, which also mentions the “specific nature of sport”, provided the necessary instrument to do so.

Voluntary structures

The statement added: “This should allow sport to be looked at not only from a purely economic point of view, but also from its voluntary structures as well as its social and educational role.

“Sport’s fundamental principle of financial re-distribution for the purpose of sporting development distinguishes it from other industries.

“In this regard, the Olympic and sports movement has been confronted with several challenges in the past, especially when it came to judgments of the European Court of Justice on pure sporting rules.

“For instance, the protection of national teams and the regulations concerning free movement of professional athletes need to be addressed in the light of sport-specific rules and the particular characteristics of international sport.”

Patrick Hickey, president of the European Olympic Committees, was content that the European Union is not given any direct legal competences for sport. Instead, sport interprets its role as one of supporting and promoting actions of member states.

Hickey said: “We fully support this approach since the European Union should support and not regulate sport.”


The joint statement added: “The reference to sport in the Lisbon Treaty enables the set-up of a specific EU sports funding programme as well as a better mainstreaming of sport in existing programmes.

“In the coming months, the focus of the Olympic and Sports Movement, which took a clear and unified position on the autonomy and specificity of sport last year, will now be on the proper implementation of articles 6 and 165.

“It is about protecting sport’s autonomy on the one side, and safeguarding the integrity of sporting competitions on the other side.”

Mario Pescante, IOC vice-president and chairman of the IOC iInternational relations commission, promised that sport was ready “to contribute with our expertise to fill the new articles on sport with life and make it a success story for everybody.”

Keywords · IOC · FIFA · Olympic movement · Rogge · Blatter

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