Study on sports organisers’ rights in the European Union – Executive Summary
The legal protection of rights to sporting events (”sports organisers’ rights”) is a contentious issue. While in recent years distinct aspects of the problem have been addressed by legislatures and courts, both at the national and at the European level, a great deal of legal uncertainty persists. Divergent views on the appropriateness, form and scope of such legal protection exist among stakeholders and other concerned parties, reflecting the complex nature and multiple functions of sports in modern society. The universe of sports and media is a complex network of social and commercial relationships with a variety of stakeholders, each one of whom can claim rights or specific interests in the value chain of organizing and exploiting sports events, such as clubs, leagues, athletes, federations, fans, media content providers, sponsors, owners of sport facilities, sports betting operators, and news media.
Consequently, the question of protecting sports events is by no means a one-dimensional legal issue, and should be framed in a broader socio-economic context. On the one hand, professional sport represents a large and fast-growing sector of the European economy – and in no small measure this is due to the commercial significance of sports media rights. On the other hand, sports are widely regarded as playing a pivotal role as a “social cohesive”, an agent of communal, and conveyor of moral, values. This helps explain why major sports events qualify in various Member States as “events of major importance” for society, subject to special media rules mitigating exclusive rights of broadcasters to guarantee viewers’ access to these events via free-to-air television.
The general objective of this study is to examine and critically assess a number of the most pressing questions of substantive law relating to the existence and exercise of sports organisers’ rights in the EU. The specific objectives of the study are:
To map the legal framework applicable to the origin and ownership of sports organisers’ rights in the 28 Member States;
To analyse the nature and scope of sports organisers’ rights with regard to licensing practices in the field of the media, taking into account relevant EU law provisions;
To examine the possibility of establishing licensing practices beyond the media field, notably in the area of gambling and betting;
To provide recommendations on the opportunity of EU action to address any problem that may be identified in the above mentioned areas of analysis.