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European Football Sports Law News 25 Feb 2014

Neymar of Brazil
Tuesday, 25 February 2014 By Adam Lovatt, Thomas Gibby

EURO 2016 Draw

One intriguing aspect of the Euro 2016 qualifying draw held in Nice on Sunday was the announcement prior to the draw commencing that neither Spain and Gibraltar or Armenia and Azerbaijan could be placed in the same group due to political tensions between the respective countries.

This was announced by UEFA prior to the draw taking place. As is so often the case and has been highlighted in a previous blog, politics and sport often clash and politics is the ultimate winner.

As luck would have it, Group C was where Spain was placed in the draw from Pot 1, with Gibraltar following from Pot 6 (which was drawn immediately after Pot 1). As a result, the newest and smallest full member of UEFA by population was immediately moved to Group D in order to avoid the current European Champions. Whilst moving countries ranked so differently in Europe is not problematic and does not seemingly place other countries at a disadvantage (in this case Gibraltar got Germany rather than Spain and ended up with Luxembourg from Pot 6) it does set a rather dangerous precedent.

Whilst Gibraltar are not expected to perform particularly well during the qualification campaign, the inability of members of UEFA to play against each other in competitive matches does raise some real issues. What would happen if England and Spain were to find themselves at war or face 'sensitivities' regarding the sovereignty of Gibraltar? Would they have to be kept apart in qualifying campaigns? And what would happen in the final European Championship or World Cup tournament itself in such a situation?

Whilst UEFA were following political influence in respect of the draw on Sunday, there are real competition issues raised by such a protocol being in place.

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Written by

Adam Lovatt

Adam Lovatt

Adam is a lawyer specialising in sports law with IMG. Adam has a wide range of commercial and litigation experience from his four years as a qualified solicitor. Adam has a passion for sports law and is currently undertaking a IP Law Masters programme with the University of London. He is passionate about most sports particularly football, golf and tennis.

Thomas Gibby

Thomas Gibby

Thomas is a Solicitor in Kerman & Co’s sports team. Thomas is predominantly a commercial contracts lawyer who advises the team’s biggest sporting clients and major event organisers on a range of their commercial issues, including working in-house at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. His experience includes advising on data and consumer protection, IT/software development and procurement contracts.

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