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The Austrian players’ union, VdF, demands a sports law. The VdF called upon the country’s sports minister to come into action, after a book brought to light grave injustices in the way sportspersons are being treated in Austria.

 

Based on a ruling by the Supreme Court from the seventies, sportsmen in Austria are still legally regarded as unskilled workers. Thus, being a sportsman requires no training or special knowledge, and sport can also be exercised by a random replacement. This ruling did not take into account that the education of many sportsmen starts at the age of 6 and lasts until approximately 18, with many hours spent on training.

 

A team of Austrian scientists decided to draw up a job description for professional football and ice-hockey players. It led to the book, Berufssportrecht III (laws on professional sport). With this book, the scientists bring to light the grave injustices in the Austrian law treats sportspersons.

 

The VdF organized the book ‘s presentation and used the occasion to stage a panel discussion led by football freethinker Martin Blumenau, and held with the book's authors, Dr Alexander Tomanek (former professional ice-hockey player) and Dr Sabine Würth (psychologist at Vienna University), and the parties to the collective agreement, Christian Ebenbauer (director of the Austrian Football Bundesliga) and Dr Rudolf Novotny (president of VdF).

 

The panel defined three major statements:

  • A legal view: according to the case law of the Austrian supreme court, a professional sportsperson is legally regarded in Austria as an unskilled worker. By contrast, German supreme courts consider professional sportspersons to be equivalent to artistes (musicians etc.);
  • Comparison of a musician and a professional sportsperson: from childhood to adulthood, a budding professional sportsperson goes through training which, in terms of the time it demands, is equivalent to that of a highly regarded professional musician - but the legal status of the latter is far superior;
  • Psychological demands: the psychological demands on a professional sportsperson in the cognitive, emotional and social domains are extremely heavy and match those associated with highly qualified white-collar occupations.

 

According to the panel, ‘professional sportspersons are being treated extremely unfairly by legal institutions’. ‘The supreme court's rulings have no scientific backing, are resolutely opposed in Austria by the persons affected and by experts, and give rise to amazement in neighbouring countries. The job description forcefully confirms the incorrectness of the supreme court's case law.’

 

The aforementioned forced the VdF to draw up the following demands:

  • The  supreme court, and along with it some academics, must revise their legal views.
  • We call upon the legislators to enact a law on professional sport. Sports minister Norbert Darabos is asked to give this cause the highest priority.
  • As Austria's only legitimate and recognized body representing the interests of sportspersons, the VdF demands to be involved in formulating the law and in the consideration of expert opinions.