Sport: EU tackles hooligans, corrupt agents and illegal betting 

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The fight against doping, violence in stadiums, match-fixing and shady deals by players' agents demands better-coordinated action at EU level, says a resolution passed by Parliament on Thursday.

"The Lisbon Treaty's entry into force brought about a revolution in sport by creating the first legal basis for this area, Article 165", said rapporteur Santiago Fisas Ayxela (EPP, ES), in the debate preceding the vote.

Promote sport for girls

MEPs call on the EU to identify and eliminate all obstacles likely to prevent girls and women from doing sports. They underline that "parents’ prohibiting immigrant girls from taking part in sports and swimming at school cannot be tolerated or excused on cultural or religious grounds". Better representation of women in sports governing bodies - in proportion to the number of licensed members - could help to promote female participation in sport, they add.

Blacklist hooligans

Parliament asks that supporters who are known to be violent or to engage in discriminatory behaviour be banned from all European stadiums. A European data base should enable national authorities to ensure that the ban applies to any international matches played on their territory. MEPs also call on Member States and sports governing bodies to commit to tackling homophobia and racism against athletes.

Make doping a criminal offence

To protect athletes better, MEPs suggest that trafficking in illegal performance-enhancing substances should be treated in the same way as trafficking in illegal drugs. To combat match-fixing, money laundering and illegal betting, MEPs ask that any fraudulent activity be treated as a criminal offence and that a licensing system be put in place for betting operators.

Regulate sports agents

The profession of sports agent should be regulated and subject to a proper official qualification, say MEPs. Agents should have their fiscal residence within the EU and undertake to abide by a code of conduct in order to obtain a licence.

The resolution proposes setting up a European register of agents, which would also list the players for whom they work.

Agents’ fees for transfers should be paid in instalments throughout the duration of the players' contract, rather than as a lump sum at the time of the transfer, MEPs add.

Combine learning and training

National authorities should ensure that young athletes are able to pursue normal school and higher education studies in addition to their sports training. European recognition of their qualifications and athletic experience should encourage athletes and trainers to take part in exchange programmes on the "Erasmus" model, MEPs add. 

Consider flying the European flag

A majority of MEPs suggest that sports federations consider flying the European flag, and displaying it on the clothing of athletes, alongside national ones, at major international sports. They nonetheless stress that this should be entirely voluntary and up to Member States and sports organisations to decide.

The resolution was passed with 550 votes in favour, 73 against and 7 abstentions.

Procedure:  Non-legislative resolution