Greek sports law: sport and the state - part 1
Sport is a combination of physical and mental activities that is governed by a set of rules or customs with social, educational, entertaining and cultural dimensions.1 In Greece sport is characterised as a fundamental social right by the State and is protected at a constitutional level.2 This article will focus on the recognition of sport as a fundamental right in Greece. In part one of this article the author will examine the most important parts of the Sports Law in Greece (law 2725/1999 ‘the law’), examining how sport institutions are structured in Greece, and how this effects the relationship between the stakeholders in sport.
The Constitutional recognition of sport in Greece
Sport is protected directly by the Greek Constitution; Article 16 (9) states that: “Athletics shall be under the protection and the ultimate supervision of the State”. It is clear that the Greek State characterises sport as a fundamental right with Article 16, referring to the right to education and the freedom of arts and science. This right is primarily aimed at sport at an amateur level; every citizen has the right to participate in the sport of his favour and the State is obliged to provide them with the necessary facilities for their sporting activities. Additionally, the State is under the obligation to encourage people, especially young people, to participate in sport by organising specific programs at all educational levels. Article 16 (2) cites that education is a basic mission of the State, and the State shall focus, amongst other things, on the physical training of the Greeks.
The Constitution also establishes a social right in that people are free to create sport unions and associations, under the supervision of the State. Therefore, limits can be put on that specific right by the State. However, the State’s supervision of sports unions and associations is primarily concerned with professional sport.
Article 16 (9) of the Greek Constitution expressly cites that “the State shall make grants to and control all types of athletic associations, as specified by law. The use of grants in accordance with the purpose of the associations receiving them shall also be specified by law”. There is places a requirement on the State to finance sports associations in order for them to achieve the purposes of their establishment. Furthermore, the law determines how these grants are made; this provision creates a “special” relationship between the State and the sport associations. The associations can use the grants given to them by the State for the purposes that they decide, however, the State can control if those purposes are related to the general objectives of the sports association. In that sense, sport associations are autonomous as institutions under a special framework.
The law 2725/1999 has been revised several times.3 The law consists of 140 Articles and is divided into 5 parts which deals with the organization of sport at an amateur and professional level, and the way that the State can control the associations according to the Constitution and the competent authorities.
Sport at an amateur level
Articles 1-58 of the law are dedicated to sport at an amateur level. The first chapter is related to the prerequisites for the establishment of an amateur sports club. A sports club may participate in the local sport associations as per Article 10. Sports associations aim to promote their sport in a small geographical region and under the rules set by the relevant sports federation. Local sports associations have a private law status.
Articles 19-30A of the law focuses on sports federations. A sports federation (private law status) is the superior sports organization at a national level. Members of a federation are local sports associations; according to Article 19 only one federation can be established for a particular sport. The main aim of a federation is to advance the sport it represents at a national level and promote the country’s sports culture abroad.
Article 31 (2) cites the conditions under which a licence can be obtained to be a trainer or a coach. To be granted the status of a coach an individual is required to:
- Hold a degree from a university department of physical education and sport science in Greece or hold an equivalent qualification from a university outside of Greece;
- Show they have not been convicted for any offences mentioned in Article 3 (1) b, c of the law;
- Obtain a certificate from the local procurator that there have been no criminal actions for offences mentioned in Article 3 (1) b of the law;
- Provide a health certificate from the relevant authorities; and,
- Pay a deposit of 150 euro.4
Articles 33-36 are concerned with the status of athletes. According to Article 33 (2) participation in sport is basically not a paid occupation, with the exemption of Article 85 of the law. In that sense, sport isfundamentally at an amateur level in Greece. Every athlete in either amateur or professional level has the right to sign commercial contracts or sponsorship agreements and participate in advertisements. The supreme obligation of athletes is the participation in their national teams when they are asked to do so. Any athletes that refuse to participate in the national team without any specific reason can be banned with disqualification of the national league.
Articles 41-41Z addressees a major problems facing sport in Greece nowadays, violence. Sports associations and businesses can be held responsible for violence before, during or after a sporting event. A special committee has been established, The Permanent Committee for the Treatment of Violence. The Committee observes the phenomenon of violence at a sports event and reports this to the competent authorities. Furthermore, extra measures, if needed, can be proposed by the Committee for a specific sports event of high importance. The Committee also has the responsibility to co-operate with the media to inform the public about the forthcoming sports events and promote peaceful participation in sport.
Criminal sentences for those found guilty of violent offences at a sports event, up to 2 years imprisonment and a fine, are cited in Article 41ΣΤ, in case there is no other chance of successful prosecution for other offence. This Article can be characterised as a “special criminal provision” (lex specialis) which takes precedence over general Articles.
Furthermore, according to Article 41Z sport associations are empowered to take disciplinary measures for the violation of Articles 41ΣΤ. Sports teams can be fined depending on the status of a team as an amateur or a professional plus the requirement to conduct 2 games without fans when the team responsible plays at home. Coaches and athletes can be disqualified from at least 2 games of their team and fined. If members of the chair of a sport club or other representatives that are related to the club are found guilty, the measures can be the forbiddance of the entrance into the sport facilities during a sports event, the derogation from the office for at least 6 months and payment of a fine of at least 20.000 euro. The disciplinary measures for the associations of fans responsible for violence shall be the forbiddance of entering the sport facilities during a sport event for a time-span of 3 months to 2 years.
In part two the author will discuss how Greek Sports law affects professional sport.
Written by Konstantinos Margaritis.
- D. P. Panagiotopoulos, I. K. Anagnostopoulos, Sport Law (lecture diagram-in Greek), in https://www.fa3.gr/nomothesia_2/nomoth_athl/athl-dikaio/athlit-dikaio-parousiasi-apo-Pan-Anagn.htm.
- In most EU Member States there is no explicit constitutional provision concerning sport, most important examples could be Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, France, etc. In those countries the protection and promotion of sport is usually comprised in Articles related to freedom of arts and science.
- The most important revisions were by Law 2858/2000, by Law 2947/2001, by Law 3057/2002, by Law 3262/2004 and most recently by Law 4049/2012. As long as the framework remained the same it is more convenient to refer to Law 2725/1999 as the sport law.
- This deposit can be changed by a ministerial decision.5 Specifically refers to professional athletes
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