The European Parliament has now adopted a resolution on the future of football in Europe. The underlying text is worth a read, if you are interested in how sport and politics mix. Some of my favourite phrases included
• “the European Football Model, characterised by open sporting competitions within a pyramidal structure in which many amateur clubs form the basis for the top professional clubs, is the result of longstanding democratic tradition” (I guess this is not referring to Franco’s control of Spanish football, the use of football by Mussolini and the subordination of German football to the Nazi Party)
• “whereas football plays an important social and educational role, it is an efficient instrument for social inclusion and multicultural dialogue” (oh, maybe they were referring to fascist football…)
• “the current trend of clubs going to the stock market is one step closer to the US model. It can be questioned whether the two goals (winning the game and maximising shareholders’ profits) can be combined within the traditional open European model” (where does one begin with this incoherent hogwash?)
The basic point of the document is to give the football governing bodies broad freedom to control clubs in the name of political ends. Fortunately the parliament does not have the final say, which will require the agreement of the Commission and, crucially, the member states. However, there seems to be some momentum behind this kind of reform. We still await the Commission white paper, which is the final proposal for action at the EU level.
I found the documents through the World Sports Law Blog, which is worth a visit.