Europe’s most illegal sporting competition – Euro 2008 – kicks off this afternoon. For most players and most countries the competition represents a complete denial of a law that is at the heart of their constitutions.
While Switzerland and Turkey are not affected, being outside the EU, everyone else is covered by EU law which relates to discrimination of employment opportunity across the Union.
In short if you are French and you turn up in Spain looking for a job you can’t be refused simply because you are French.
Each of the EU countries in the Finals pays the players who take part – or at the very least insures them (which is a payment in kind, if nothing else). So the football associations and the players come under EU law. But each association does in effect impose strict criteria about nationality. To play for France you have to be born in France. Or have a mother or father who has a French passport. Or one of your four grandparents. Or have any one of those six people born in France even if they were not French.
Now of course no one ever challenges this ruling – we’ve accepted this for so long that it seems natural. But the fact is that if someone did challenge it, that would help FIFA push through its 6+5 rule.
Under EU rules the law can only be challenged by someone who has been discriminated against. So, for example, an English player could claim that he is better at his position than a French player, and so apply for the job. (Unlikely I know, but this is just an example).
Then the French turn him down, and he applies to the EU for a hearing against the French FA on the grounds of unlawful discrimination. At this point UEFA (which gets loads of dosh out of these events would go to the EU and ask for exemptions on the grounds that an adverse ruling would affect all sport in Europe. The EU would agree, and Blatter would come in with his 6+5.
So it is the fact that the illegal Euro 2008 games go ahead without any challenge that saves us from the insanity of Blatter.
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