Leagues call for proper engagement in FIFA’s decision-making

The EPFL, representing the 30 largest European Football Leagues and around 950 professional clubs across the continent, have reaffirmed on Friday the 11th of February 2011 their willingness to continue working with FIFA on all matters of relevance for Europe and the whole football world, but have made clear that they will not tolerate any decision being taken regarding the international match calendar without their previous consultation and agreement and will oppose any interference on matters of their exclusive competence such as the size of national leagues.

This position was approved by unanimity at the meeting of the Association’s Board of Directors, held today in Madrid at the headquarters of the Spanish Football League, and puts an end to recent speculation proclaiming possible revolutionary changes in the international calendar, such as the so-called winter 2022 World Cup in Qatar, and pressures to reduce the number of clubs competing in the national leagues.

Whilst the EPFL welcomes the assurances publicly given by FIFA President, Joseph S. Blatter, earlier this week, that the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will be held in summer as it has since 1930, the Association cannot avoid expressing its dissatisfaction with the way such a significant matter was dealt with and FIFA’s decision back in June 2010 to overburden the international match calendar with eight additional dates over the 2011-2014 calendar cycle, which represents an increase of more than 20% (from 38 to 46). This was another unilateral decision which causes major problems to Leagues and clubs, taken without any prior explanation and consultation with those who it affects and accordingly would have a legitimate interest in having a say in the matter, such as our member Leagues and clubs

The EPFL therefore invites FIFA to reconsider its decision-making process and enhance participative democracy.

EPFL backs Premier League in QC Leisure

Protection of intellectual property rights, regarded as the main income source of the whole sport movement, was also placed high at the top of agenda of the EPFL Board today.

The EPFL Board welcomed the recognition expressed by the European Commission in its Communication on the implementation of the Lisbon Treaty in the field of sport regarding the need to protect competition organisers’rights, but called for tangible and meaningful action targeting both the EU institutions and national Governments. Among a series of proactive measures, the EPFL has decided to call the EU Hungarian Presidency to put this matter as top priority in its agenda for sport.

The EPFL has also thrown their weight behind the Premier League in the so-called QC Leisure case, currently pending at the European Court of Justice (ECJ), a case which the EPFL believes caries the seeds to be a potential ?Bosman? of sports broadcasting, which would affect negatively, not just the Premier League, but the legitimate interests of all Leagues, federations, clubs and other sports bodies as well as the broadcasters and viewers across Europe. The EPFL considers that the opinion expressed by the Advocate General Kokott is not compatible with the existing body of EU case law and is confident that it will not be reflected in ECJ’s judgment, as the ECJ’s role is to enforce the law, not to change it.

European Leagues support Spanish League against governmental imposition

Gathered in Madrid, the EPFL and its Board of Directors have also expressed unanimous support to the Spanish League in respect of their position to cease the Spanish government`s imposed obligation to broadcast one match per weekend on free-to-air television without any financial compensation.

The EPFL considers that this interventionist measure, which has no parallel in Europe, affects the sustainable development of Spanish Football, its economic viability, sporting success and social function. The EPFL and its Board of Directors are therefore confident that the Spanish Government will reconsider this issue and revoke such imposition. The EPFL has also decided to address this matter with the European Commission.

EPFL Code of Conduct on Sports Betting Integrity moves forward

On this occasion, the Board members also had the opportunity to discuss the Association’s Code of Conduct on Sports Betting Integrity, which is under development by a specific task force, in order to support its member Leagues’ fight to protect the integrity of their competitions and maintain the overall credibility of the game.

The EPFL has also reaffirmed its commitment to continue working with national Governments and the European Commission to establish a clear framework and a consistent and efficient enforcement regime to efficiently combat illegal betting, while ensuring the indispensable protection to competition organiser’s intellectual property rights in order to ensure the economic viability not only of Professional Football but the whole European sport.

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