EU Commissioner Barnier makes important announcements at EPFL General Assembly

Mr. Michel Barnier

European Commisison takes action to ensure sports rights protection, online betting regulation and funding of sport

Sports rights protection, sports betting regulation and funding of sport have been placed hight at the top of the EPFL General Assembly agenda, with important announcements made by the EU Commissioner in charge of Internal Market and Services, Mr. Michel Barnier.

Corresponding to the EPFL’s call for greater protection for the leagues’ intellectual property rights and proper regulation for sports betting, in order to ensure the game’s integrity and economic viability and further development, Mr Barnier declared: “I will launch an important consultation on online sports betting though a Green Paper and invite the EPFL to participate in it”. Acknowledging the concerns voiced by the Leagues, Mr Barnier specified that the European Commission “will look to France, Spain, UK, Germany, Portugal and other countries to build a common core bringing together the best legislation and best practice? and invoked the recent French legislation which consecrates the ?sports organisers’ rights” and a fair financial return for sport from betting operators for the commercial use their contents for betting purposes.

The EU Commissioner also announced that, in Autumn, “The Commission will launch a very ambitious action plan against counterfitting and piracy in particular”. ?I am in charge of protection of copyright and intellectual property”, he stated in his address at the EPFL General Assembly. ?I know that broadcasting rights are an essential source of funding for sport. I understand your concerns to sell exclusive rights in order to maximize your earnings. The funding of sport depends on the protection of intellectual property rights. My intention is to build a clever and balanced position to guarantee both the legitimate remuneration for sports rights holders and consumers’ rights.”

Concluding his intervention, Mr Barnier praised the relevant work performed by the European Leagues and emphasized that the European Commission is willing to work with them to achieve such goals.

The EPFL General Assembly

The EPFL General Assembly, which was held in Paris on 23 July ultimo, also counted with the participation of Mr. Jean-Fran?ois Vilotte, President of the French Regulatory Authority of Online Gaming, who briefed the leagues’ chiefs about the new law on the opening of the French online gambling market. By establishing a clear framework and effective enforcement regime, this legislative initiative gives a balanced and adequate response to efficiently combat illegal betting, while ensuring, at the same time, the indispensable protection to the commercial property rights of sport bodies and the integrity of sport.

During the meeting, the 30 EPFL Member Leagues and Associated Members had also the opportunity to listen the European Commission’s plans regarding the implementation of the Lisbon Treaty in the field of Sport, the latest developments regarding UEFA Club Competitions, Financial Fair Play, as well as Financial Solidarity at the Leagues and UEFA level.

On the same occasion, the EPFL launched its Best Practice Awards, an initiative aimed at fostering and rewarding the Leagues for the best football management projects related to youth development, marketing, communication and social responsibility.

The first EPFL General Assembly of the 2010/2011 Football season will be held in London, on 7 October 2010. 

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