The EU’s involvement in sport-related media and intellectual property has wide-ranging implications for the economy and organisation of sport, a fact reflected in sections of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (notably under article 165) and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU.
Although EU rules on the internal market and competition do not specifically target sport, they can have an important impact on the way sport events are broadcast or transmitted over networks.
Challenges in the field of sport
The way sport it is represented, particularly via media outlets, is of great social and economic significance. In social terms, sport can impact a range of issues: from attitudes toward sports fans and professionals to complex phenomena such as nationalism, gender equality, doping, match-fixing, racism and violence.
As attending or watching sporting events generates considerable income for Member States, the relationship between sport and the media is also of great economic significance. The selling of media rights and merchandising are the main sources of revenue for professional sport in Europe.
In 'QC Leisure (also known as Murphy)', the European Court of Justice expressed a number of considerations on the nature of sport events, saying that sport events such as football matches cannot be considered intellectual creations or works and so cannot be protected by copyright.
However, the Court also pointed out that sport events have a unique and original character that can transform them into subject matter worthy of protection. It is therefore up to Member States to consider whether to grant such protection in their domestic legal framework.