Demonising Justin Gatlin
13th September 2015
The Italian football association (FIGC) has been sanctioned with a €3.3 million fine by the country’s anti-trust authority (AGCM) for breaching Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). The AGCM found that the FIGC had unjustifiably restricted market access to professional services offered to support football clubs. Article 101 TFUE prevents agreements which may affect trade between Member States of the European Union and are designed to prevent, restrict or distort competition within the internal market, unless an objective justification exists for such restrictions.
The AGCM found that the FIGC had restricted access to courses required to qualify to provide such services to a maximum number of people who met criteria decided, and offered exclusively by the FIGC. It said that this included residency/citizenship requirements. Such services include qualifications to operate as Sports Directors and Consultants of the Gestione Sportiva, who organise Italy’s football leagues; talent scouts; and match analysts. It added that it could find no objective justification for such restrictions.
‘The Italian football association has received with surprise the anti-trust authority’s decision on the basis of alleged anti-competitive behaviour, believing the change to be unjustified and excessive’, read a statement from the FIGC. ‘The measure, as argued by the FIGC in opposition to the antitrust authority during the administrative procedure, is based on erroneous knowledge and interpretation of professional sports regulations and regulatory powers exercised by the FIGC in full compliance with CONI [Italian Olympic Committee] regulations, which was completely ignored in the judgment’.