Thursday, May 7, 2009

Can the NBA and NFL Place Teams in Europe? Exploring the EC Antitrust and 'Free Movement' Risk

With talk of the NFL hosting a Super Bowl in London, some sports fans are beginning to wonder if we will soon see U.S. sports leagues place teams in Europe.

In a recent law review article, Brian Doyle and I argue that before either the NBA or NFL could expand into Europe, these leagues would need to first abandon their age/education requirements and alter their reserve rules.

While the NBA and NFL age/education requirements might be legal in the United States, these requirements are much more likely illegal under Article 81 of the Treaty Establishing the European Community (the EC's counterpart to Section 1 of the Sherman Act).

The NBA and NFL age/education requirements likely violate Article 81 of the EC Treaty, even though the EC recognizes a non-statutory labor exemption to antitrust law, because the European Court of Justice defines its non-statutory labor exemption more narrowly than the Second Circuit did in Clarett v. National Football League, 369 F.3d 124 (2004).

In addition, the NBA and NFL reserve rules may violate Article 39 of the EC Treaty by preventing "free movement" of European nationals between teams located in EC member states.

To learn more about the antitrust risks of U.S. sports leagues expanding into Europe, please visit Marc Edelman & Brian Doyle, Antitrust and 'Free Movement' Risks of Expanding U.S. Professional Sports Leagues into Europe, 29 N.W. J. of In'tl L. & Bus. 403 (2009).

(Cross-Posted on Sports Law Blog)

BallHype: hype it up!

Related Posts by Subject