Rules Based on Nationality


Discrimination based on nationality is at the very heart of some sporting competitions. National anthems are sung before international football matches. The anthem of the winner is played at the medal ceremony following events at the Olympic Games. Athletes in these circumstances are representing their country, and accordingly they are selected on the basis of nationality. An Estonian, however talented, may not apply to join the Italian national football team, nor may the Italians seek to recruit him or her. EU law, however, places a prohibition on discrimination on the grounds of nationality within the scope of application of the Treaties. This is stipulated by both Article 18 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and Article 21(2) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights. This chapter therefore examines an inescapable tension between the foundations of the lex sportiva and the values of the EU. How, if at all, may the discrimination founded on nationality which lies at the heart of international representative sport avoid condemnation when practised within the reach of EU law?

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