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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 July 2007, 16:57 GMT 17:57 UK
EU signals bigger role in sport
Chelsea players practising
Rules on "homegrown" players could be justified, the paper says
The European Commission has unveiled a white paper containing ideas that could lead to greater EU regulation of sport.

The paper says sport should only have limited immunity from rules governing the EU internal market.

It also announces a study to assess whether legislation is needed to govern the activities of agents.

Fifa president Sepp Blatter has said politicians should leave sport "in peace" - but Uefa described the white paper as a big step forward.

Media rights

The white paper insists that sport federations and clubs must work within the general framework of EU law, even though exemptions may be granted in certain cases.

Among its main points, the paper says:

  • Quotas for home-grown players may be compatible with EU rules
  • Collective selling of media rights by sports associations is acceptable under certain conditions
  • EU-wide regulation of agents will be considered
  • Stricter legislation on betting will be considered
  • Better international co-operation is necessary in the fight against doping
  • The idea of banning people guilty of match violence from stadiums across the EU will be examined
  • Tougher procedures are necessary to deal with racist abuse

The paper says media rights can be sold by individual clubs, or by sport associations.

"While joint selling of media rights raises competition concerns, the commission has accepted it under certain conditions," it says.

"Collective selling can be important for the redistribution of income."

If rights are sold individually by clubs, there must be "a robust solidarity mechanism," to share the income with smaller clubs, it adds.

Quotas

The paper says rules obliging teams to include a quota of "homegrown" players in their squads could be "compatible" with EU laws.

However, any discrimination on grounds of nationality resulting from these rules would have to be outweighed by the benefits of training and development for talented young players.

Sport commissioner Jan Figel told journalists the commission needed more time to study Uefa's existing rules, to judge whether they were legally acceptable.

The commission will carry out an impact assessment to provide a clear overview of the activities of players' agents in the EU
White Paper on sport
The paper also notes that the commission could return to the question of regulating sport if a new treaty, to be negotiated later this year, gives it new powers.

A mandate for the negotiations, agreed at a summit last month, says the commission's powers in the area of sport policy should be extended.

The white paper notes that agents have been accused of "corruption, money laundering and exploitation of under-age players".

It says repeated calls have been made for EU-wide legislation to regulate agents, and announces a study to evaluate whether such a step is necessary.

The European Commission says sport accounted for 3.7% of EU GDP in 2004, generating 407bn euros (275bn), and providing 15 million jobs.


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