EU Commission and UEFA Agreement: TPOs and Financing Fair Play

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The EU Commission and UEFA cooperation agreement was signed a few days a go, aiming to promote and strengthen such collaboration between these two institutions, outlining a framework of actions and principles to those who hold such cooperation.
Within that document and beyond its legal nature, the main fact is that there are two sections to highlight connected with hot sport legal issues: I refer to sections 2.7 and 2.8 which are related to Fair Financial Play and the problem of TPO’s or Third Party Owners, respectively.
Thus, Section 2.7 states the following:
“Financial stability, transparency and better governance within sport can be pursued through responsible self-regulation. In this respect, and subject to compliance with competition law, measures to encourage greater rationality and discipline in club finances with a focus on the long-term as opposed to the short-term, such as the Financial Fair Play initiative, contribute to the sustainable development and healthy growth of sport in Europe;”
Notwithstanding a further detailed analysis of the provision, this could be considered as a support for the Fair Financial Play rules to the extent that they contribute to the sustainable and healthy development of sport in Europe, subjected to the rules of antitrust law. In the framework of the discussion, so intense lately, about the benefits of the Fair Financial Play rules, this may be a strong argument for its justification and defense.
On the other hand, the section 2.8, dealing with the TPOs states the following:
“The health and human dignity of athletes must be protected from abusive and unethical practices, commercial or otherwise. It is important that arrangements concerning players, such as the so-called third-party ownership of the “economic rights” of players, do not threaten the integrity of sporting competition or undermine the relationship of trust and mutual respect that should exist in any relationship of employment;”
The above said seems to reinforce, against the UEFA’s own opinion, the idea of regulation versus the ban of the phenomenon of investment trough TPO, expelling just those abusive acts breaching the legal rights described under the section, but without banning its operation at all.
Such statement is at least surprising, taking into account the debate inside of FIFA driven by UEFA, which has been solved, apparently, in favor of the prohibition of the TPO´s, a decision that we have repeatedly criticized.
In any case, such agreement is an interesting document that requires to be analyzed in detail.

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