Sports

Anticompetitive practices

The Portuguese Competition Authority imposes on the national football league a precautionary measure to suspend its no-poaching agreement, invoking issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic (Portuguese Professional Football League) Free
Portuguese Competition Authority (Lisbon)
Covid - 19: AdC imposes precautionary measure on the Portuguese Football League that suspends no-poach agreement* The AdC ordered the Portuguese Professional Football League (LPFP in Portuguese) to immediately suspend the no-poach agreement, an agreement to not recruit or hire another clubs’ (...)

The German Competition Authority discontinues its administrative proceeding against 2 TV broadcasters who secured exclusive rights to champions league broadcast because of new market entrants and the unpredictability of football season due to COVID-19 (Sky / DAZN) Free
German Competition Authority (Bonn)
Proceeding against Sky and DAZN discontinued – Award procedure relating to Champions League broadcasting rights* Today, the Bundeskartellamt discontinued its proceeding against Sky Ltd., London, and DAZN Group Ltd., London, for discretionary reasons; the proceeding had been conducted due to (...)

The Lithuanian Competition Authority opens investigation into a suspected anticompetitive agreement among national basketball league and individual basketball clubs and warns similar agreements are not justified by the COVID-19 health emergency (Lithuanian Basketball League) Free
Lithuanian Competition Authority (Vilnius)
KONKURENCIJOS TARYBA LAUNCHES INVESTIGATION INTO SUSPECTED ANTI-COMPETITIVE AGREEMENT AMONG LITHUANIAN BASKETBALL LEAGUE AND BASKETBALL CLUBS* The Lithuanian competition authority Konkurencijos taryba has launched an investigation into a suspected anti-competitive agreement among the (...)

The German Competition Authority approves a joint sale of media rights of individual football matches by a central association (DLF)
Bird & Bird (Dusseldorf)
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Bird & Bird (Dusseldorf)
The Federal Cartel Office has approved the German Football League´s (“DFL”) marketing model for the transmission rights of the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 matches from the 2021/22 season onwards. DLF´s marketing model is based on the joint sale of media rights of individual football matches. Such (...)

The Belgian Competition Authority imposes interim measures on a billiards game association following a complaint raised on its anti-competitive rules (Belgian Bumper Pool Association)
University of Leiden - Europa Institute (Leiden)
In a decision of 24 January 2020, the Competition College of the Belgian Competition Authority imposed an interim measure on the Belgian Bumper Pool Association (Belgian Golf Billiards League, BGB) concerning the balls that may be played with in competitions and matches organised by the BGB or (...)

The Swedish Competition Authority issues a preliminary injunction against the use of exclusivity provisions in vertical agreements by the owner of a training aggregator app (Bruce)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 5 December 2019, the Swedish Competition Authority (“SCA”) issued a preliminary injunction against IM WITH BRUCE (“Bruce”), the owner of a so-called “training aggregator” app which offers subscribers access to a variety of fitness studios, prohibiting Bruce from using exclusivity provisions in its (...)

The French Competition Authority and the Austrian Competition Authority carry out unannounced inspections in the automatic swimming pool cleaning equipment distribution sector
French Competition Authority (Paris)
Dawn raids* The General Rapporteur of the Austrian competition authority and the General Rapporteur of the Autorité de la concurrence indicate that unannounced inspections have been carried out in the automatic swimming pool cleaning equipment distribution sector. Following judicial (...)

The Italian Competition Authority fines several companies for bid-rigging in the context of tenders for the assignment of broadcasting rights of football matches in tournaments organized by the Italian football league (MP Silva / IMG / B4 Capital)
Italian Competition Authority (Rome)
ICA: agreement on tenders for the assignment of international rights to football on TV. MP Silva, IMG and B4 Capital fined 67 million Euros* On April 24 the Italian Competition Authority concluded an investigation, ascertaining a violation of art. 101, paragraph 1, of the Treaty on the (...)

The EU Commission imposes €12.5 million fine on a company for restricting cross-border sales of merchandising products (Nike)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 25 March 2019, the European Commission (“Commission”) announced its decision to fine Nike € 12,555,000 for limiting the ability of licensees to sell licensed merchandising products to other EEA countries. According to the Commission’s press release, the restrictions concerned the merchandise (...)

The EU Commission fines a company for restricting cross-border and online sales of branded merchandise by its European licensees (Nike)
Crowell & Moring (Brussels)
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Crowell & Moring (Brussels)
E-Commerce in Europe: A Look into Nike’s Huge Antitrust Fines* On March 25, the European Commission (EC) fined Nike €12.5 million for restricting cross-border and online sales of branded merchandise by its European licensees. In December last year, the EC fined Guess €40 million for imposing (...)

The EU Commission fines a multinational company selling football apparel and footwear for restricting cross-border sales of merchandising products (Nike)
DG COMP (Brussels)
Antitrust: Commission fines Nike €12.5 million for restricting cross-border sales of merchandising products* The European Commission has fined Nike €12.5 million for banning traders from selling licensed merchandise to other countries within the EEA. This restriction concerned merchandising (...)

The US District Court for the Northern District of California finds that an athletic association’s cap on grants given to athletes is an anticompetitive restraint of trade (National Collegiate Athletic Association)
Constantine Cannon (New York)
NCAA May Have Lost Antitrust Case to Student-Athletes, But How Much Did It Really Lose?* Friday’s 104-page ruling in the antitrust case challenging the compensation rules of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (“NCAA”) is not a clear-cut victory for either side. Although Judge Claudia (...)

The Turkish Competition Authority finds no-poaching clauses in a gym company’s franchising agreements to be against competition law (BFIT)
ELIG Gürkaynak Attorneys-at-Law (Istanbul)
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ELIG Gürkaynak Attorneys-at-Law (Istanbul)
This case summary includes an analysis of Turkish Competition Board’s (the “Board”) BFIT preliminary investigation decision (07.02.2019, 19-06/64-27) in which the Board evaluated non-compete and no-poaching obligations imposed by Bfit Sağlık ve Spor Yatırım ve Tic. A.Ş. (“BFIT”) to its franchisees. (...)

The Indian Competition Authority finds no cartelization or abuse of dominance but does find refusals to deal in the market for broadcasting of TV channels (Noida Software Technology Park / Star India / Sony Pictures Network India)
Vaish Associates Advocates (New Delhi)
Background The given case involved an information filed by Noida Software Technology Park Ltd (“Noida/Informant”) alleging (i) Cartelization (ii) Refusal to deal (constructive and outright) and (iii) Abuse of dominant position by Star India Pvt Ltd (“Star India”) and Sony Pictures Network India (...)

The Indian Competition Authority decides its fourth leniency and fines broadcasting service providers for bid-rigging in tenders floated by sports broadcasters (Essel Shyam Communication / Globecast India / Globecast Asia)
Vaish Associates Advocates (New Delhi)
CCI decides its fourth leniency, imposes penalty on broadcasting service providers for bid-rigging in tenders floated by Sports Broadcasters* By way of an order dated 11 July 2018, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) imposed a penalty of INR 22.36 Crore on Essel Shyam Communication (...)

The EU Commission carries out unannounced inspections concerning distribution of sports media rights and other related rights
DG COMP (Brussels)
Antitrust: Commission confirms unannounced inspections concerning distribution of sports media rights and other related rights* The European Commission can confirm that on 10 April 2018 its officials carried out unannounced inspections in several Member States at the premises of companies (...)

The US District Court for the Northern District of California sets student-athletes’ antitrust case for trial (National Collegiate Athletic Association)
Rutgers University (Camden)
On March 28, 2018, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California rejected an attempt by the NCAA and 11 conferences to dismiss claims brought by current and former student-athletes playing Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) football and men’s and women’s Division I (...)

The EU Commission decides that an international sport association has breached European competition rules (International Skating Union)
DG COMP (Brussels)
Antitrust: International Skating Union’s restrictive penalties on athletes breach EU competition rules* The European Commission has decided that International Skating Union (ISU) rules imposing severe penalties on athletes participating in speed skating competitions that are not authorised by (...)

The EU Commission decides that an international sport association’s eligibility rules breached EU competition law (International Skating Union)
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton (London)
Introduction On December 8, 2017, the European Commission (“Commission”) decided that the International Skating Union’s (“ISU”) Eligibility rules (“Rules”) breached EU competition law. The Rules provided that an athlete could be sanctioned for participating in an event not authorized by the ISU. The (...)

Unilateral Practices

The Belgian Competition Authority imposes interim measures against a sport’s association because of its anticompetitive rules (Belgian Bumper Pool Association)
Belgian Competition Authority (Brussels)
Interim measure imposed on the Belgian Bumper Pool Association concerning the bumper pool balls that may be played with in competitions and matches* At the request of HCSB BVBA (manufacturer of bumper pool balls), the Competition College of the Belgian Competition Authority (BCA) has imposed (...)

The Croatian Competition Authority finds that the national taekwondo federation did not abuse of its dominant position (Hrvatskog taekwondo saveza)
Croatian Competition Agency (Zagreb)
Croatian Taekwondo Federation did not abuse dominant position* The Croatian Competition Agency (CCA) found that the latter that was sent by the Croatian Taekwondo Federation (CTF) to all its members including the complainant – the undertaking LMK, potentially limited access only to a smaller (...)

The German Competition Authority announces that two sports committee committed to enlarge the advertising opportunities for German athletes during the Olympic Games (IOC / DOSB)
Bird & Bird (Dusseldorf)
On 27 February 2019, the German Federal Cartel Office (“FCO”) issued a press release announcing that the German Olympic Sports Confederation (“DOSB”) and the International Olympic Committee (“IOC”) committed to enlarge the advertising opportunities for German athletes during the Olympic Games. This (...)

The Egyptian Economic Court fines the President and the Secretary General of a sports association for abuse of dominance regarding an exclusive licensing agreement (Confederation of African Football)
Egyptian Competition Authority (Cairo)
Economic Court has Fined Mr. Isaa Hayatou (President of CAF) and Mr. Hicham El Amrani (Secretary General of CAF) 500 Million EGP Each*
 Background of the case: 
January 3rd 2017, the Egyptian Competition Authority (ECA) requested the Prosecutor’s Office to press criminal charges pursuant to (...)

The Egyptian Competition Authority orders interim measures against a football organization which granted exclusive rights in absence of fair, or transparent or non-discriminatory tendering procedures (FIFA)
Egyptian Competition Authority (Cairo)
The ECA orders interim measures against the FIFA to make available on free-to-air terrestrial channels the 2018 World Cup Russia* The ECA has ordered interim measures against FIFA based on prima facie finding of infringements to articles 7 and 8 of the Egyptian competition law as it was (...)

The Cairo Economic Court upholds the recommendation of the Egyptian Competition Authority and fines a TV broadcasting company for abusive bundling of international football events (Nasser Al-Khulaifi / beIN Media)
First Principles Economics (London)
The Cairo Economic Court upholds the recommendation of the Egyptian Competition Agency and fines a TV broadcasting company for abusive bundling of international football events (Nasser Al-Khulaifi / beIN Media) On 29th January 2018 the Cairo Economic Court found that beIN had abused its (...)

The German Competition Authority terminates its administrative proceeding against a national sports association suspected of abuse of dominance (DFB - German Football Association)
German Competition Authority (Bonn)
DFB eases conditions for purchase of tickets for World Cup 2018* The Bundeskartellamt has terminated its administrative proceeding against the German Football Association (DFB) which it had initiated on the suspicion that the association had abused its dominant position. Before this DFB had (...)

The Indian Competition Authority reinstates fine against the national governing body for cricket for abuse of dominance and granting of exclusive licenses (Board of Control for Cricket in India)
Vaish Associates Advocates (New Delhi)
CCI re- imposes penalty of INR 52.24 crores on BCCI for abuse of dominance* The Competition Commission of India (“Commission/CCI”) vide its Order dated November 29, 2017 has re-imposed the penalty of INR 52.24 Crores on the Board of Control for Cricket in India (“BCCI”) after fresh inquiry that (...)

Mergers

The UK Competition Authority blocks sports-fashion merger finding that even with COVID-19 significantly impacting the relevant sector there would still be negative effects on the competition if the merger proceeded (JD Sports / Footasylum) Free
United Kingdom’s Competition Authority - CMA (London)
CMA blocks sports-fashion merger* The CMA has blocked JD Sports’ purchase of close competitor Footasylum after finding it would leave shoppers worse off. Following an in-depth Phase 2 investigation, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has concluded that this transaction would lead to a (...)

The UK Competition Authority blocks a sports-fashion retailer acquisition finding that even with COVID-19 significantly impacting the relevant sector, the transaction would lead to a substantial lessening of competition nationally (JD Sports / Footasylum) Free
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 6 May 2020, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) blocked the sports-fashion retailer JD Sports’ already completed purchase of sportswear retailer Foot- asylum. The CMA concluded that the parties were close competitors and the transaction would lead to a substan- tial lessening of (...)

The UK Competition Authority considers that a merger in the sports fashion market raises competition concerns (JD Sports / Footasylum)
United Kingdom’s Competition Authority - CMA (London)
Sports fashion merger raises competition concerns* The CMA has found that JD Sports’ takeover of close competitor Footasylum could be bad for shoppers. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is concerned that the loss of competition brought about by the merger could result in a worse deal (...)

The French Competition Authority clears a merger on the market for the transfer of professional players, which had never been defined before by decision-making practice (OGC Nice / Ineos)
French Competition Authority (Paris)
Professional football* The Autorité de la concurrence clears the acquisition of OGC Nice by Ineos On 22 July 2019, Ineos notified the Autorité de la concurrence of its plan to acquire control of SASP Olympique Gymnaste Club de Nice Côte d’Azur, which manages the OGC Nice football club. By a (...)

The Australian Supreme Court of Victoria approves an $11 billion merger in the entertainment sector (Tabcorp / Tatts)
Herbert Smith Freehills (Melbourne)
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Herbert Smith Freehills (Sydney)
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Herbert Smith Freehills (Sydney)
On 13 December 2017, the $11 billion merger between Tabcorp Holdings Ltd (Tabcorp) and Tatts Group Ltd (Tatts) became effective upon Supreme Court approval. Final implementation is scheduled to occur today in what has been one of the longest-running transactions in recent Australian corporate (...)

The Australian Competition Authority does not seek judicial review of the National Competition Tribunal’s authorisation of a merger in the entertainment sector (Tabcorp / Tatts)
Herbert Smith Freehills (Melbourne)
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Herbert Smith Freehills (Sydney)
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Herbert Smith Freehills (Sydney)
CrownBet and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) have confirmed that they will not be seeking judicial review of the Australian Competition Tribunal’s authorisation of Tabcorp Holdings Limited’s (Tabcorp’s) acquisition of Tatts Group Limited (Tatts), paving the way for the (...)

The Australian Competition Tribunal publishes its reasons for granting the merger authorisation in the entertainment sector (Tabcorp / Tatts)
Herbert Smith Freehills (Sydney)
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Herbert Smith Freehills (Sydney)
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Herbert Smith Freehills (Melbourne)
The Australian Competition Tribunal has now published its reasons for granting authorisation to Tabcorp Holdings Limited to acquire Tatts (see our original legal briefing here). Herbert Smith Freehills acted for Tabcorp in its successful merger authorisation application. To authorise the (...)

The Australian Competition Authority gives undertaking the green light to proceed with its $11 bn merger after the granting authorisation to acquire shares as set out in their merger implementation deed (Tabcorp / Tatts)
Herbert Smith Freehills (Sydney)
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Herbert Smith Freehills (Sydney)
On Tuesday the Australian Competition Tribunal gave Tabcorp Holdings Limited (Tabcorp), represented by Herbert Smith Freehills, the green light to proceed with its $11 billion merger with Tatts after the granting authorisation to acquire shares in Tatts Group Limited as set out in their Merger (...)

State Aid

The EU General Court annuls the EU Commission’s decision that a football club received over €20m in unlawful State aid (Valencia Club)
Oxera (Brussels)
The General Court has annulled the European Commission’s decision that Valencia Club de Fútbol (Valencia CF) received over €20m in unlawful state aid. Oxera undertook the financial analysis that supported Valencia CF’s appeal to the General Court, and which underpinned the annulment of the European (...)

The EU General Court annuls the Commission’s decision ordering Spain to recover €18 million of incompatible State aid (Real Madrid)
Gómez-Acebo & Pombo (Brussels)
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Gómez-Acebo & Pombo (Brussels)
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Gómez-Acebo & Pombo (Brussels)
On 22 May 2019, the General Court rendered its judgment on the action for annulment filed by Real Madrid against the Commission Decision of 4 July 2018 that (i) declared that the football club had been granted incompatible State aid worth EUR 18 million; and (ii) ordered Spain to recover this (...)

The EU Court of Justice and the General Court render two judgments on State aid showing how the Courts approach a judicial review of complex economic assessments when the burden of proof is on the Commission (Frucona Kosice / Fútbol Club Barcelona)
Garrigues (Brussels)
EU Judicial Review: Major Antitrust Implications of Recent State Aid Cases* We competition lawyers often wrongly approach our discipline in isolation from the wider context in which it is applied. This is also true when it comes to judicial review. We tend to forget that antitrust is only a (...)

The EU General Court annuls the Commission’s State aid decision concerning a Spanish tax regime (Athletic Club)
Gómez-Acebo & Pombo (Brussels)
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Gómez-Acebo & Pombo (Brussels)
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Gómez-Acebo & Pombo (Brussels)
In 2016, the Commission adopted a decision declaring that four Spanish professional football clubs (i.e., Fútbol Club Barcelona, Club Atlético Osasuna, Athletic Club and Real Madrid Club de Fútbol) had received incompatible state aid in the form of corporate tax privileges. As a consequence, Spain (...)

The EU Commission decides that a Danish levy intended to liberalise the horse racing sector is compatible with State aid rules (Denmark - aid scheme for horse racing sector)
College of Europe (Bruges)
Article published on StateAidHub: http://stateaidhub.eu, republished in e-Competitions with the courtesy of the author. The original title of this article appears below the e-Competitions title. Authors are welcome to write an alternative article on this case/text, provided they have no (...)

The EU Commission finds that Danish support for local sports associations is not State aid and that if it were, it would be compatible according to the General Block Exemption Regulation
College of Europe (Bruges)
Article published on StateAidHub: http://stateaidhub.eu, republished in e-Competitions with the courtesy of the author. The original title of this article appears below the e-Competitions title. Authors are welcome to write an alternative article on this case/text, provided they have no (...)

Procedures

The EU Court of Justice rules on the scope of a national limitation period in light of the Damages Directive (Sport TV / Cogeco)
Court of First Instance of Namur (Namur)
On 28 March 2019, the Court of Justice of the European Union (“ECJ”) ruled on a preliminary reference from a Portuguese court on the scope of the Portuguese limitation period in light of Directive 2014/104 on certain rules governing actions for damages under national law for infringements of the (...)

Regulatory

The Finnish Administrative Court allows game organisers to continue their fantasy sports operations while the definition of a lottery is being reviewed (Veikkaus Oy)
Bird & Bird (Helsinki)
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Bird & Bird (Helsinki)
The Finnish gambling market is one of the most regulated in Europe; state-owned Veikkaus Oy has the exclusive right to provide gambling services in Finland. The Lotteries Act (1047/2001) stipulates that the definition of a lottery is fulfilled when an activity includes three elements: a charge (...)

The UNCTAD meeting of experts examines competition issues for developing country regulators in the market for audio-visual rights to sports events
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)
Audio-visual sports rights experts step up to the plate* The battle for audio-visual rights to sports events is as fierce as the action on the field, and competition regulators in developing countries must be prepared to play the game. With half the globe glued to screens for the soccer World (...)

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