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How Public Procurement Law Applies To Sports Governing Bodies: The CJEU's Ruling On The Italian Football Federation

How Public Procurement Law Applies To Sports Governing Bodies: The CJEU's Ruling On The Italian Football Federation
Wednesday, 31 March 2021 By Sînziana Ianc, Matilde Faglia

We’ve known for a while now that competition law applies to sports governing bodies[1]. The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has recently clarified that sports organisations can also be subject to public procurement law (i.e. the rules and processes to be followed when public authorities purchase work, goods and services from companies).

The question at the core of the CJEU’s preliminary ruling was whether national sports federations can be considered ‘public bodies’ for the purpose of EU public procurement law[2] and thus be subject to enhanced transparency, non-discrimination and proportionality rules when organising tenders.  The answer is yes, provided certain other criteria are met.  In its judgment[3], the CJEU focussed on the legal nature of sports federations and the way in which their activities are supervised, while the legal form of a federation was considered irrelevant.

This article examines the case, looking at:

  • Background facts;
  • Definition of ‘bodies governed by public law’ under the Public Procurement Directive;
  • Judgment of the CJEU:
    • Qu 1: do sports federations “meet needs in the general interest, not having an industrial or commercial character”?
    • Qu 2: what does “subject to the management supervision of a [body governed by public law] " mean?
  • Analysis and comment

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Written by

Sînziana Ianc

Sînziana Ianc

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.

Matilde Faglia

Matilde Faglia

Matilde is an associate in the Antitrust & Foreign Investment Group of Linklaters Brussels. Matilde advises on a broad range of EU competition law areas, including merger control reviews in different industries (such as the consumer goods and telecommunication sectors) and antitrust topics. She also has experience in proceedings focusing on EU law before the European Courts

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