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But sir, I must have an anti-trust exemption!

It seems pretty clear that is the nature of the discussion between UEFA and EU officials these days.

They (UEFA et al) want sport to be given a "specificity", or special exemption from EU rules. It has such a status under an EU treaty signed in Nice in 2000, but this was not made legally binding.

The latest draft, however, does not do that.

"The only solution is the one in the Nice declaration. This paper as it stands is a Molotov cocktail waiting to explode, created by too many chefs in the kitchen," FIBA President George Vassilakopoulos told Reuters.

The key points of dispute involve TV rights and rules for soccer and other sports that require a quota of local, or "homegrown", players.

Some commissioners such as EU competition chief Neelie Kroes want sports disputes to be decided purely on economic, not social, grounds -- like any other business.
"We recognise that sport is special ... but no one can seriously argue that sports bodies should have an exemption from the competition rules for their commercial behaviour," a spokesman for Kroes said.

The home-grown requirements are not exactly anti-trust issues, but still require exemption from EU competition rules. Regardless, the push to protect that rule is a smokescreen to protect UEFA's "domestic-only" rule for league competition. That is the rule which prohibits, for example, Belgium, Holland, and Scotland from forming a league and actually generating some decent competition among their larger clubs. EU guidlines clearly prohibit such nonsense, yet the domestic-only leagues persist.