International Comparative Sport Law - The US and EU Systems of Sport Governance:
Commercialized v. Socio-Cultural Model Competition and Labor Law
International Sports Law Journal, Vol. 3-4, pp. 108-127, 2008
23 Pages Posted: 1 Nov 2009
Date Written: November 30, 2008
The contributions of Foster (2005) and Halgreen (2004) are the latest in a series of debates, discussions, conferences, and academic scholarship on the subject of United States (US) and (or versus) European Union (EU) sport policy. In the context of international relations and foreign policy, these two main players in the formation of international law frequently conflict due to differences in philosophy and culture.
This research examines the particular differences between US and EU competition and labor law application in sport, investigates the connection between the two, and attempts to entertain the thought of a "balanced approach" in the legal handling of sport matters, bringing the two "worlds" closer together. In the process of bridging certain traditional gaps in culture and philosophy under a legal and policy analysis lens, the reader may become aware that, indeed, the two "worlds" may not be so far apart, as some critics may argue. Instead, considering contemporary sport situations and increased commercialism in the sport industry, they may be growing progressively closer.
The starting point of this analysis involves the examination of specific characteristics featured in the US and EU systems of sport governance. Differences in the philosophies and cultures of the two systems are evident and directly impact policy-making and the legal handling of sports-related cases. In particular, the intricacies of the European "socio-cultural" federalized club-based model differentiate certain policy initiatives in Europe and cases decided by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) from respective issues surrounding commercial sport organizations in the US. In the latter case, both on the professional and the "amateur" level, there have been important decisions –and sometimes Congressional intervention - that have handled sport in a variety of legal ways (either as a commercial enterprise or allowing for autonomy of sport organizations). Thus, examples of such legal handling by courts and policy-making by governmental entities display particular differences between the two often conflicting systems of sport governance, and may even forecast toward resolution of potential disputes in 21st century sport.
This investigation presents cases that were instrumental in the development of the present approaches in US and EU sport policy. These cases will be juxtaposed with key policy changes affecting sport in the two systems. The main objective of this contribution is to pursue a balance between the cultural and philosophical differences of the two "worlds", promoting pluralism and alleviating some of the problems recently documented in EU and US administrations', as well as sport governance bodies’ relations. In this process, ideas for future research may be generated. Contrary to popular belief of recent past, this research finds that sport needs politics. Political intervention is a "conditio sine-qua-non" in contemporary world sport policy evolution.
Keywords: International, Comparative, Sport Law, European Union, Competition, Labor Law
JEL Classification: K00, K10, K19, K20, K29, K30, K39, K40, K41, K49
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation