Legal and regulatory frameworks for sports evolve over time, and despite being no clear guidelines for sports law at European Union (EU) level, sufficient agreement exist on the organization of sports as a business activity. The broader sports policy includes sports that are popular, coupled with alternative sports like Zorb Ball or Zorbing, Roller Derby, Sepak Takraw, Kite Surfing, Paintballing, Water Spheres, High Ropes and Wire Adventure Course, Archery, Indoor Sky-Diving, and Bog Snorkelling. In this paper, the legal and regulatory framework for alternative sports organizers in the European Union (EU) is also incorporated. The initial sections shed light on particular laws and regulations. In the following sections, the practical implications for independent third-party organizers have been discussed. The last section contains a critical analysis and some suggestions for regulators and organizers in the EU. “Legal and regulatory framework” for alternative sports in the “European Union (EU)” emphasizes non-discrimination, openness, and fairness in competitions and collaboration between organizations responsible for sport.
European sports policy originated initially from the “Council of Europe”. First, in 1967, the institution issued a first resolution inviting member states to adopt anti-doping regulations. Then in 1985, a European convention on violence and spectator excesses during sporting events was adopted. In the EU, strictly speaking, the first initiatives in the field of sports date back to 1974, with a decision by the “European Court of Justice” defining sport as falling within Community competence. In 1991, a “European Sport Forum” was held then, in 1997, with the “Treaty of Amsterdam”, the social importance of sport was recognized, particularly its role as a leaven of identity and a link between men. Since then, the EU has stepped up initiatives around the economic role of sport and its importance for health and fitness, education, social assimilation, and culture. Finally, since 2014, the “European Week of Sport” has been held every year, which aims to promote physical activity in European society and everyday life. The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected sports activities across the globe, and the same is the case with EU nations. It is hoped that after the pandemic, the cooperation amongst the continent nations would increase further. As per the research analysis of Katsarova & Halleux (2019), sports have a growing impact on the economy and society of the European Union (EU). 
However, Parrish (2003) argues that the wider acceptance of discrete bodies of sports does not exist in the form which has legal and philosophical foundations connecting to the polity of the European Union. The author states that article 3 of the EU’s Treaty does not refer to sports in the manner in which it is organized, rather it emphasizes dedicating area for persons, goods, capital, and services mobility within member states. Additionally, the markets of the zone need to be undistorted, which has implications for the economic activities pertaining to sports. On the one hand, sporting bodies are obliged to abide by the laws of the treaty; and on the other hand, an additional ruling of ‘Bosman’ elaborates on the significant impact of EU laws on sports.
The “Legal Framework” for Alternative Sports in the “European Union (EU)”
The legal framework for alternative sports in the European Union (EU) has evolved over time. Although no specific legal competence in the field of alternative sport can be found in the Treaties before 2009, the European Commission laid the foundations for a European sports policy with the 2007 White Paper on the subject matter. With the “Treaty of Lisbon”, the Union attained explicit capability in the world of sport (Phinnemore, 2013, page 1). “Article 6 (e) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), “confers competence on the Union to undertake actions in order to support or supplement the acts of the Members in the field of the sport while “Article 165, paragraph 1”, elaborates sports policy, declaring that the Union “contributes to the promotion of European sports issues while taking into account its specific features and its structures based on voluntary service as well as its social and educational function.” According to Article 165, paragraph 2, the Union aims “to develop the European dimension of sport, by promoting fairness and openness in sports competitions and cooperation between bodies responsible for sport, as well as by guarding the physical and moral integrity of athletes, especially the youngest of them.” It is clear that the “Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU)” has great significance for the parties intending to hold alternative supports even in the EU.
EU laws forbid racial and other forms of discrimination in alternative sports. The organizers of alternative sports in the member nations should follow the applicable laws that do not allow any discrimination on race, gender, nationality, religion, etc. The provisions concerning the nationality of the EU and parity amongst men and women in service should also be taken into consideration. Sports activities are governed under EU law. A classical Treaty economic freedoms and competition law is applicable to professional sport, including legal and regulatory framework for ‘alternative sports.’ Serby (2016) argues that European Union’s competence in sport is the consequence of the Court of Justice of The European Union (CJEU) decision, which establishes that professional sports, especially the ‘sporting rules,’ as subject to the laws of economics.
Internal Market provisions and Competition law also apply to the alternative sport so far as it institutes an economic activity. In 2000, the EU made three important changes in law and regulation, which also apply to alternative sports events organized in the region. The first was the “Employment Equality Directive”, which prohibited discrimination based on religious belief, age, sexual orientation, and disability at the place of the job (Agency for Fundamental Rights, 2011 Page 14 para 3). The second clause was named the “Racial Equality Directive”, which prohibited discriminatory treatment and discrimination based on ethnicity or race in the context of job offering (Agency for Fundamental Rights, 2011 Page 14 para 3). Moreover, this clause prohibited discriminatory treatment and discrimination in accessing welfare benefits. The companies that arrange sports events in the EU cannot ignore these provisions. Both clauses were an extension of the possibility of non-discrimination regulation in EU, which also applies to the organizations working in non-conventional sports. The modified regulations and laws recognized that to permit people to attain their full potential in the jobs in the sports companies, it was also indispensable to assure them equal admission to areas, for instance, education and health. The third, “gender equality directives” specifically term out sexual harassment as a “specific type of discrimination, where the unwanted ‘verbal, non-verbal, or physical conduct is of a ‘sexual’ nature” (Agency for Fundamental Rights, 2011 Page 32 para 2). The EU laws and regulations do not allow racial, religious, sexual, and other forms of discrimination in alternative sports and organizations making arrangements for such events.
Another important aspect of laws and regulations covering alternative sports and organizations in the EU is the “specificity of sport.” Each sport has many specific features, which are frequently referred to as the “specificity of sport”. The specificity of European sport can be analyzed from two distinct aspects. Number one is the specificity of rules and sporting activities, such as curbs on the number of applicants in tournaments, and separate competitions for males and females. The second is the specificity of the sports structure. Another area of concern for the independent third-party organizers of alternative games should be controlling corruption in the event. The liberalization of the betting markets and the commercialization of alternative games make professional players vulnerable to corruption and manipulation. However, there is hardly any effective remedy against it. Regulation and more transparency of the betting markets are also no solution. In principle, a private bet between two billionaires anywhere globally is enough to offer an incentive to bribe players or referees.
Besides, so many unintentional mistakes happen in alternative games that an intention is very difficult to detect and prove. At the same time, chance plays a big role. Like other sports associations that are supposed to market their sport, independent third-party organizers have no real interest in corruption but also have no interest in exposing corruption, as this could damage the reputation and marketing of the event, which is a source of considerable revenues for them. It is similar in cycling with the investigation of doping cases. Drafting a code of conduct and compliance rules are of little help. The independent third-party organizers of alternative games should transfer the control to an external body to ensure independence and transparency. In this respect, the most recent reform efforts at FIFA should be viewed to take important clues. There is no doubt that overcoming this serious corruption issue is the greatest and most important task in alternative games. The credibility of alternative game events depends on it, which is already viewed very critically by many fans, given the rapid commercialization of emerging and non-traditional games.
Important Court Cases
Some court cases have a significant bearing on the organization of alternative sports events in the EU. Therefore, the management of sports companies should take care in not violating the rulings. The “Bosman Ruling” has great significance for alternative sports and organizations in the EU. In the “Bosman case”, the “European Court of Justice” has ruled in favour of freedom of contract to professional soccer players (Antonioni & Cubin, 2000 page 1). In the case of “Bosman v. Union Royale Belge Societies de Football Association”, the court’s judgment is of vital importance (“Judgement of 15 December 1995, case C-415/93”). The independent third party organizers in the EU should not restrict players to make contracts with specific clubs or companies. In such cases, the court might impose fine or rule against the independent third party organizers’ decision. Another important case in “Court of Justice of the European Communities” was “Walrave and Koch v. Association Union Cyclist International” (“Case c-36/74, ECR 1405”) in which the court judged that “sport is subject to EC law in so far as it constitutes an economic activity within the meaning of article no. 2 of the EC Treaty’ (European Court of Justice 1974: Paragraph 4, emphasis added)” (García, 2006). The event managers should be aware of the relevant court cases, including the “Bosman Ruling” and “Walrave and Koch v. Association Union”. The participating clubs and teams do not violate the applicable laws and regulations like the favour of liberty of contract to alternative sports players.
A Comprehensive Example in the light of EU Laws and Regulations
Assuming that ABC is an independent third party company that wants to hold a kite surfing tournament in the EU, the foremost important thing for the management is to have a thorough knowledge of all the relevant legal and regulatory frameworks and applicable clauses and laws, including financial regulations and anti-corruption. It is advisable to hire a law firm or a lawyer so that legal complications might be avoided. The management should contact the prospective clubs or participating teams and convey the kite surfing tournament’s schedule and terms and conditions. Such events are mostly held to make money; therefore, the independent third party company (ABC) should run a marketing campaign. The company should follow all the relevant laws and especially the related communication clauses. The company might use social media to promote the event. The promotors might use advanced analytics to help assess the marketing content’s popularity because it is vital to analyze and review clients’ social behaviors (Dynmic Digital, 2020). Advanced analytics would also save cost and reduce waste by creating targeted marketing. The ABC Company should select the right metrics to achieve social media goals (15 Step, 2018). Apart from marketing and finance, HR is another important aspect.
In this regard, every type of discrimination and harassment should be avoided. Special emphasis should be given to avoid sexual harassment. “The gender equality directives of EU” terms sexual harassment as a “specific type of discrimination, where the unwanted ‘verbal, non-verbal, or physical conduct is of a ‘sexual’ nature” (Agency for Fundamental Rights, 2011 Page 32 para 2). In the light of court cases mentioned in the previous section, the players are free to join any club; therefore, the organizers should not place illegal restrictions. The event should take place on the announced date and time. The success of the kite surfing event in the EU would serve the purpose of entertainment and generate revenues for the sponsors. The promotion of alternative sports, including kite surfing in the EU, serves multiple purposes like health and wellbeing and business.
The legal and regulatory framework of sports in EU are market-friendly, and has inclusive approach to organization. The various bodies of sports responsible for respective goods and services interact with each other, and negotiates on the laws and regulations. The EU regulatory and legal framework provides guidance for collaboration of organizations responsible for sport, along with seeks organizations to appreciate free-market policies of fairness in competition, openness, and includes increased emphasize on non-discrimination. Many sports competitions take place each year in Europe, covering a wide spectrum of disciplines. These events are followed nationally and internationally for some, apart from conventional sports, alternative sports, including kite surfing. The legal and regulatory framework of the EU has evolved over time. In recent years the EU has streamlined regulations regarding non-discrimination and biasness. The independent third-party organizers should follow the applicable laws in the EU. The companies should learn from court judgments so that the investors might avoid unnecessary and avoidable damages in the form of claims and lawsuits.
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As per the empirical evidence, approximately seven million people work in the sector, which also includes services and good of sport nature. Three percent of EU total gross value addition is due to economy of sports. ↑
The evolution of sports law in EU is the result of negotiations taking place between diverse interest groups. ↑