German Court ends the anti-trust fight between rival Wrestling Federations
The question that ignited the fight before the Nuremberg-Fürth Regional Court and Nuremberg Court of Appeals is not a new one; can a (governing) sports federation ban athletes from its events because they participated in competitions organised by rival federations? Given all that has come before on this topic, the Court of Appeals’ recent judgment sheds some light on key errors that governing sport federations should avoid when facing off with rival competition organisers.
In this case, the German Wrestling League (Deutsche Ringer-Liga, or “DRL”), and five of its teams successfully appealed against the German Wrestling Federation’s (Deutscher Ringer-Bund, or “DRB”) and United World Wrestling’s (UWW), the worldwide federation governing amateur wrestling, decisions to ban athletes from their competitions because they had participated in DRL events.
This article examines if governing bodies of sport and competition organisers:
- Can restrict participation based on the principle of protecting the integrity of the sport and development pathways?
- Can they ban athletes without specific regulations?
- Are justified to impose such bans and if this is proportionate under EU and German anti-trust law?
- Are likely face more competition law challenges in the future?
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Sînziana is a Managing Associate in Linklaters’ Competition practice. She has advised on the Single Resolution Mechanism and has extensive litigation experience before the Courts of the European Union. Sînziana is one of the global co-heads of the Linklaters’ sports sector.
Tobias is a managing associate in Linklaters’ Düsseldorf Antitrust & Foreign Investment Group. His comprehensive expertise covers all aspects of antitrust law. Tobias advised international clients on several large-scale and complex matters across several jurisdictions, including the EU and Germany. This includes merger control reviews, cartel matters, vertical conduct investigations, follow-on damages litigation, dominance matters, appellate litigation, compliance advice, as well as foreign investment control work. Given his work on several global matters, Tobias is very familiar with key authorities, including in particular the German Federal Cartel Office and the European Commission.