State Aid & Sports – How to play it by the rules?

20 December 2019

It has been said in the past that the European state aid rules do not apply to the sports sector. Wrongly so. In recent years, the European Commission (Commission) in particular has clearly shown that the sports sector must also take account of state aid. Reason enough for the Antitrust Alliance to describe the relevant rules.


The sports sector has been supported by both national and local governments for many years. This support can take various forms, such as the granting of loans at a non-market rate, sponsorships, the letting or renting of sports facilities as well as the financing of the construction of such facilities. However, also in the sports sector, aid must be assessed under the EU state aid rules. Until recently, the Commission seemed reluctant to apply the State aid rules in the sports sector. This has changed in the meantime. The European Ombudsman, in particular, has ensured that state aid in the sports sector has been placed prominently on the Commission’s agenda.


In the brochure State aid & Sports – How to play it by the rules? Marie Løvbjerg of the Danish law firm Horten and Eric Janssen of the Dutch law firm DVAN advocaten, discuss the current situation in the sports sector with regard to state aid. They explain the basic rules on the basis of many European case examples. When, for instance, does aid for a sports-related activity qualify as state aid? In addition, they deal with specific issues such as support for sports facilities, professional sports clubs, sports competitions and grassroots sports. Finally, the brochure contains links to blogs written by various Antitrust Alliance member firms on the subject of state aid and sports.


The brochure is currently available in English, Danish and Dutch. The aim is to make the brochure available in more languages as soon as possible.