UEFA-resolution till regeringarna

Det är dags att de nationella regeringarna agerar till försvar för de grundläggande idrottsliga värderingarna inom fotbollen.
UEFA-kongressen i Luxemburg antog enhälligt en resolution på detta tema ställd till de europeiska regeringarna. Resolutionen, som även har FIFA:s stöd, påkallar regeringarnas stöd "innan den Europeiska Kommissionen tar fler beslut som ytterligare kan skada eller hota stabiliteten inom fotbollen". Önskemålet är att genom lagstiftning få ett skydd för idrottens och fotbollens traditionella värden.

UEFA-resolutionen i sin helhet:

Time For National Governments to Act to Protect the Basic Values of Football

1. Today there are great opportunities for football. The game is more popular than ever and new commercial possibilities open up nearly every day. Top level professional football is becoming - and has become - a "market" in its own right.

2. But football is not just about top professional clubs, nor did the game become popular simply because of money. On the contrary, football is successful precisely because it has always been open to the people. Everyone, both professional and amateur, has a chance to play and to follow their club and country. The tradition in Europe is open competition, so even the smallest team has a chance. In this way, everyone can feel involved.

3. In normal business life the law of the "market" dictates that only the strong survive. But this is exactly what we cannot accept in football. If every law of the market applied to football we would end up with a few elite clubs playing in a small private league. The colour, the variety, the true sporting ethos which made football popular in the first place, would be lost.

4. Almost five years ago the European Court of Justice sitting here - in Luxembourg - declared that a footballer was a "worker". The player transfer system was abolished, as were limits on the number of "foreign" players in teams. The result was to open up the "market" for players. At the same time, some clubs wanted to break away from collective structures and sell TV rights individually. The danger grew that success on the pitch could depend on sheer financial power of the clubs rather than on their work in developing sporting skill.

5. In the "free market" environment, many businessmen - often totally unrelated to football - moved to exploit the commercial potential which the sport had to offer. Media groups took stakes in clubs and sometimes bought them outright. Clubs were encouraged to "break away" from traditional structures. A group known as Media Partners tried to create a private "Super League" in Europe. In the meantime, a self-appointed group of football clubs, known as the "G14", established itself as a separate organisation outside traditional football structures. None of this is in the interests of sport - but it seems to be permitted under the rules of the "free market".

6. So far, the approach of the European Commission has always been to favour the "free market", at the expense of sporting values. It has been reluctant to acknowledge that sport has a specific character which sets it apart from any other kind of "business". It has also failed to recognise that legal developments in the EU have negative consequences throughout the whole world of football. Even now, the Commission continues with this approach and most recently launched a new attack on the football "transfer system".

7. Not only does this approach undermine the stability of football, it also conflicts with the clear message which has been given by the highest political authority in Europe. At the end of 1998, the heads of all EU governments met in Vienna and instructed the European Commission to prepare a report to "safeguard current sports structures and maintain the social function of sport". This was a clear indication that Europe's political leaders do not want sport to be torn apart by the operation of the free market. There are fundamental aspects of sport: social, cultural, educational, traditional, which deserve to be protected.

8. The report prepared by the European Commission ("Helsinki Report") states that "solidarity" structures in sport must be protected. It recognises the desirability of having a single governing body for each sport. It supports the idea that competitions should remain open. It acknowledges that sport must be protected from commercial interference, and it recognises that sports governing bodies have some degree of autonomy to regulate their own affairs. These statements are welcome, but they do not correspond to what the Commission is actually doing in practice. This is why it is now time for the national governments to intervene directly.

9. In particular, the need for training and development of young players has always been stressed. Football bodies have responded by saying that teams must contain a minimum number of locally trained players. Not only does this maintain the identity of the team; more importantly, it forces clubs to invest in local talent and in the local community. But again, the approach of the European Commission is that the "free market" should decide: clubs should be allowed to buy talent but should not be obliged to invest in it. Both UEFA and FIFA strongly believe this approach does not respond either to the needs of football or to society as a whole. Furthermore, the recent threat by the Commission to abolish the existing "transfer system" casts more doubt over the ability, and incentives, for clubs to invest in training young players.

10. With these facts in mind, it is clear that a new approach is needed. In particular, the principles set out in the Helsinki report must now be applied in practice. Too many areas of uncertainty remain and basic rules - including the transfer rules - continue to be questioned. It is not acceptable for football to be thrown into chaos and this is certainly what would happen if we had a situation in which players could break contracts at will. Consequently, the football movement is now calling on the governments to intervene before the European Commission takes any further decision which could damage or threaten even more the stability of football.

11. A first building block was put into place when a Declaration on Sport was included as an Annexe to the Treaty of Amsterdam. This process now needs to go further: there must be clear recognition of the specific character of sport in the EU Treaty, and this should be done in a clear and legally binding way.

12. Both UEFA and FIFA and every national football association believe it is now time for governments to act. There is a clear window of opportunity here, especially during the French Presidency of the European Union and in the run up to the Nice Summit in December 2000. At the end of the year 2000, we want to see sport - which is so important to millions of European people - given proper recognition in the European legal order. Above all, we want to see the special and traditional values of football protected, for the healthy future of the game.

Nyon, June 2000