Burying the ESL: EU sports ministers back European Sport Model resolution

December 1 – EU sports ministers have moved to prevent European Super League plans from being resurrected after they adopted Resolution of the Council of the EU on a European Sport Model, in effect rejecting closed competitions. 

Ministers unanimously approved the model with the resolution calling for strengthening values-based organised sport in Europe and protecting it from threats such as closed competitions.

“This resolution comes against the backdrop of increasing commercialisation of professional sport, which is making sport increasingly profit-oriented,” a Council statement said. “Although this contributes to the creation of financial resources for a greater number of athletes, it is not without risk for the values of sport.

“The resolution considers that sport should be based on values such as good governance, safety, integrity, solidarity and the health and safety of athletes.”

The key features of a European sports model should include a pyramidal structure, one federation per sport, solidarity with lower-tier levels in addition to the promotion of open competition, the Council said.

European governing body UEFA welcomed the resolution which deals a major blow to future resurrections of the European Super League project. In spring a cabal of elite clubs rallied to launch a pan-continental closed competition, but they had to abandon those plans following widespread protests.

UEFA said that the resolution “offers comprehensive backing to and alignment with the UEFA governance model.”

The confederation added: “The 27 member states recognise the central role of federations in overseeing the organisation and functioning of their respective sport.”

Last week, European MEPs had already overwhelmingly backed a report on EU sports policy that called for the protection of the European sports model.

Centre-right Polish MEP and former professional footballer Tomasz Frankowski argued that its adoption was a key moment for the future of sport in Europe.  “Cooperation at all levels is essential to enhance and promote in Europe a model of sport open to all, based on values, solidarity, fairness and open competition,” said Frankowski.  “We must protect it from closed competitions of elite clubs.”

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