University College of Northern Denmark & Danish Institute for Sports Studies
Sport between business and civil society (Abstract book of the 20th European Association for Sport Management Conference) pages:107-108
European Association for Sport Management Conference edition:20 location:Aalborg date:18-21 September 2012
This paper assesses the recent (19 April 2012) agreement on minimum requirements for Standard Players Contracts between UEFA, FIFPro (footballers), ECA (clubs) and EPFL (leagues) concluded within the framework of the European sectoral social dialogue committee in professional football (SDCPF), installed in 2008. The paper investigates the network of actors that negotiated and concluded the agreement, rather than examining the content of the agreement. The SDCPF constitutes a prime example of a networked governance arrangement at the EU-level in the field of sport. There are clear benefits connected to governance networks with EU involvement in the field of sport, but we can only appreciate those benefits if we make sure that such governance networks are themselves democratic. In this paper, the ‘Democratic Anchorage Model’ by Sørensen and Torfing is adjusted to fit the peculiar form of sport governance networks at the EU-level and reformulated into minimum requirements that were applied to the network of actors within the SDCPF. That enabled us to identify weak spots in the governance network in terms of democratic legitimacy. Hence, we found that overall, the European Commission fulfilled its task as meta-governor of the network very well. Appropriate organisations were included in the network, certain actors were empowered, bi-lateral negotiations were held to reduce tensions, and an indirect amount of (light) pressure was exerted. In particular, the Commission did a great job at empowering FIFPro, which has considerably weaker bargaining powers than EPFL and –especially- ECA. However, the European Parliament and the Council could express their support for the SDCPF more firmly, both formal and informal. More solid reference in those institutions’ Resolutions would legitimise the Commission’s role in the Committee more and could also act as a form of light pressure on the actors to come to agreements, increasing the chances of success for the committee.