Why sports federations are under increasing scrutiny from competition authorities

Published 19 December 2017 | Authored by: Viktoria Tsvetanova

Sport governing bodies are responsible for upholding fair competition in their respective sport, but are they themselves abiding by competition rules? This is a question the European Commission and national competition authorities are seeking to address.

In recent years, competition authorities have demonstrated an increased interest in the sports sector. To date, skating,[1] horse riding,[2] tennis,[3] football[4] and bodybuilding[5] governing bodies have been investigated. Most recently, in October 2017, a meeting was rumoured to have taken place between the European Commission and the European national competition authorities to discuss coordinated investigations into the rules imposed by sport federations.[6] Coincidentally, at the end of October, the German national competition authority (the Bundeskartellamt) commenced an investigation into the German Olympic Sports Federation and, by extension, the International Olympic Committee (IOC),[7] which sets the rules that the national body enforces.

To examine this issue, this article will look at:

  • The application of EU competition rules to sport governing bodies;

  • What sparked competition authorities' increased interest in the rules implemented by sport governing bodies;

  • The German national competition authority's investigation of the German Olympic Sports Federation;

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About the Author

Viktoria Tsvetanova

Viktoria Tsvetanova

Viktoria is a trainee solicitor in the Competition Law department at Dentons in Glasgow. Prior to joining Dentons, Viktoria obtained a Master’s degree in European Law from the College of Europe, majoring in competition law, and worked in the EU Competition and Antirust departments at two international law firms in Brussels.

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