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Philip Jennings, the general secretary of UNI Global Union, called it a historic day as he closed the first ever European Professional Sportspeoples Forum. Theo van Seggelen, secretary general of FIFPro, could only agree. The message in the joint statement made by all participants of the forum is clear, Van Seggelen concludes. ‘Sport activity is subject to the application of E.U. law.’


Van Seggelen agrees with Jennings about the importance of the European Professional Sportspeoples Forum, organized by ETUC, UNI Europa, EU Athletes and FIFPro Division Europe. These four unions present in Brussels on Monday 31 January, represent more than 40,000 professional sportspeople in Europe.


Van Seggelen: ‘For the first time in the history of professional sports, professional sportsmen and women came together and they came out with a very strong statement about the position of not only the football players but of all the professional sportspeople within the European Union.’


‘The most important conclusion of the joint statement is that European law is applicable in professional sports’, says Van Seggelen. ‘Professional sports are an economic activity and for that reason professional sports have to follow European law, and of course national law.’


Van Seggelen is also very pleased with the conclusion about the specificities of sport. ’Everybody in the world of professional sports is talking about the specificities of sport. But nobody knows what they really are. Together with the European Commission, we came to the conclusion that in the end the European Court of Justice has to decide what specificities of sport are.’


‘Specificities of sport can only be implemented within the professional world of sports  if there is a commitment between all parties involved, especially a commitment with the professional sportspeople. That is extremely important.’


In order to reach such a commitment, social dialogue is a necessity, insists Van Seggelen. ‘There is only one way, and that is through social dialogue under European law. This means that social partners, clubs, players, leagues and governing bodies have to agree to a commitment that lays the basis for a discussion on the specificities of sports. That is a very important conclusion of today.’