Mark and Niels’ victory over ISU at the European Commission

Mark and Niels’ victory over ISU at the European Commission

EU Athletes welcomes the decision of the European Commission that International Skating Union (ISU) rules imposing severe penalties on athletes participating in unauthorized speed skating competitions are in breach of EU antitrust law. As a consequence, the ISU must now change these rules.

This landmark ruling is a result of a courageous decision of two Dutch speed skaters, Mark Tuitert and Niels Kerstholt to challenge their federation’s (ISU) eligibility rules. The decision, announced on Friday the 8th of December, confirms that the ISU abused its dominant market position by imposing unfair and disproportionately punitive rules in order to enable the ISU to pursue its own commercial interests to the detriment of athletes and organizers of competing events.

EU Athletes has been supporting Mark and Niels through the #chancetocompete campaign and by representing the interest of all the European athletes that are or might be affected by similar rules imposed by their sport governing bodies.

We would like to congratulate and thank Mark and Niels for taking this difficult journey which now can significantly improve the situation of athletes around the World. Congratulations also to Ben Van Rompuy and his team for their impressive and successful legal work and representation.

We would also like to express our gratitude to the European Commission and Commissioner Margrethe Vestager for taking on this important case and rendering a wise decision, showing the sport governing bodies that they are not above the law.

For Jean-François Reymond, the General Secretary of EU Athletes: “We are extremely happy with this decision. The Olympic movement’s attempts to put political pressure on the Commission have not unduly affected the outcome of the hearing. This landmark ruling shows that the specificity of sport cannot be used as an excuse to gain commercial benefit at the expense of athletes”.

Brendon Batson OBE, the President of EU Athletes, added: “Sport governing must operate within the European legal framework and we are pleased that the European Commission has taken this important step. We hope that the sport organizations will now recognize that they cannot unilaterally decide on athletes’ situation and that there is an urgent need for them to engage in a partnership with independent athlete organizations.”

ESSDC Meeting in Brussels

ESSDC Meeting in Brussels

A Working Group meeting of European Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee for Sport and Active Leisure has taken place in Brussels on the 29th of May 2017. The discussions were mainly focused on the evaluation of the Social Dialogue project concluded this year, fix-term contracts in the sport sector and the Work Plan for Sport 2017-2020 that has been recently adopted by the Council.

The participants have also been informed about the decision of the Austrian court in the case of Vanessa Sahinovic, who after being hit by the bus during European Games in Baku in 2015 became paralyzed. The court, analysing her status as a member of the national team in order to analyze the social security regime, has found that, even without the employment contract and salary, it should be assimilated with labour relation. It is an important development regarding the denial of worker’s status and rights to many athletes in Europe.

The plenary ESSDC meeting will take place in Brussels on the 8th of November 2017.



Like every year on the 15th of April, this Saturday we will be showing our commitment to tackle match fixing in sport with the #EUSportIntegrityDay.

Match-fixing is widely regarded as one of the major threats to sport. It undermines the values of sport such as integrity, fair play, respect for others and have a negative impact on the life of people involved in sport.

Tackling match-fixing requires strong and organised cooperation between the different stakeholders (sports organisations, police, governments, supporters, NGO’s, coaches, athletes themselves and others).

If this issue is not properly addressed, organized sport will lose its credibility and support from fans.

This is why #EUSportIntegrityDay is open to everyone who is committed to figh match fixing. It is designed to:

– raise awareness amongst stakeholder and everyone who loves sport

– reinforce the key education messages about sports betting integrity

– showcase the good practice in the fight against match fixing demonstrate a public commitment to prevent match fixing harming our sports


European Social Dialogue Project Plenary

European Social Dialogue Project Plenary

Plenary meeting of the project “Supporting the test phase of the European Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee for sport and active leisure”, co-financed by the European Union and coordinated by UNI Europa has taken place in Berlin on 23-24th of March. This event has gathered around 50 participants from 19 different member states and as an opportunity to discuss the results of the project and the future of social dialogue in sport in Europe. EU Athletes was activelly involved in the project and two round tables (basketball and rugby) organized in the professional sport subsector.

EU Sport Forum 2017

EU Sport Forum 2017

This event is the biggest gathering of stakeholders in the sport sector, with over 350 delegates from EU institutions, Member States, sport organizations and other NGOs participating. This edition was organized by the Maltese presidency on 8-9th of March in St. Julian’s. The main focus was put on grassroots sport, but a number of other issues and currents in the European sport sector, including sessions on good governance and anti-doping was also dealt with.

The Commission’s dedication to use the Forum to engage in a structured dialogue is appreciated, but it is hard to escape the impression that the Olympic movement seems to be a privileged entity claiming to represent sport on many occassions. A wider stakeholder representation and involvement would be more appropriate and surely would benefit the exchanges.

The EU Sport Forum included the networking area, which was a great initiative aiming to foster cooperation between different organizations and EU funded projects around topics of common interest. EU Athletes was there to represent our Erasmus+ Supporting Women Athletes From Europe (SWAFE) project in the “Women in Sport” theme.

More information on the event can be found on the European Commission website: