MEPs in favour of EU sports policy
By Eric van Puyvelde | Wednesday 02 April 2008
Pursuing funding for professional and amateur sport, the recognition of broadcast rights for sporting events and a more efficient fight against doping are the main elements of the EU’s new sports policy priorities. The own-initiative report by Manolis Mavromatis (EPP-ED, Greece), adopted on 1 April by the European Parliament’s Culture Committee which applauded the European Commission’s white paper of July 2007 on sport, emphasised these priorities and, more generally, the role of sport in society.
The rapporteur noted that the Lisbon Treaty’s official recognition of sport “is a very big step towards a European policy in the field of sport”. With a view to the Lisbon Treaty’s ratification, the role of sport in Europe must be given a “strategic orientation,” and the application of Community law must be clarified, says the committee. MEPs ask the Commission to respect sport’s specificity and to create clear guidelines as to how EU rules should be applied. MEPs also request a special budget line in the 2009 budget for preparatory actions in the field of sport, given that the Lisbon Treaty, if ratified, foresees incentive measures in this area.
Most challenges can be addressed though self-regulation, provided that EU law is complied with, believe MEPs, sharing the Commission’s point of view.
Policies to prevent and combat doping should include avoiding excessively busy sports calendars that put pressure on the athletes and professional clubs and sports organisations should adopt a pledge to combat doping, believe MEPs. They invite the Commission to consider treating trade in illicit doping substances in the same way as trade in illicit drugs.
In the report, MEPs also voice concern about the possible deregulation of lotteries and gambling markets. They call on the Commission and the member states to adopt regulatory measures to ensure that sport is protected from any improper influence relating to betting.
They also underline the important role of sport in society as an effective tool for social integration, and the importance of supporting measures for persons with disabilities.
Television rights are the primary source of income for professional sport in Europe. To ensure that not only the biggest clubs will benefit from the selling of the rights, MEPs recommend that member states and national sports federations and leagues introduce collective selling of media rights, and say that there should be an equitable redistribution of income between the clubs, within and between the leagues and between professional and amateur sport.
The Mavromatis report will be adopted in the plenary session from 21-24 April or 19-22 May. n