EU-tuomioistuin: Kansalaisuutta koskevat rajoitukset kansallisissa urheilumestaruuskilpailuissa voivat olla EU-oikeuden vastaisia

13.6.2019 | Oikeusuutiset

Markku Fredman

Participation in the German amateur athletics championships in the senior category was initially open to nationals of other Member States if they had had, for at least one year, an entitlement to participate through a German athletics association or athletics community.

On 17 June 2016, the Deutscher Leichtathletikverband eV (the German Athletics Association; ‘the DLV’) made such participation impossible by amending the Deutsche Leichtathletikordnung (German Athletics Rules). However, according to the DLV, the athletes concerned may, in some circumstances and subject to certain conditions, be granted an entitlement to participate without classification. The DLV justifies that amendment by claiming that only an athlete of German nationality who can participate in international championships under the abbreviation ‘GER’, which refers to the word ‘Germany’, should be the German champion.
As a result of that amendment, Mr Daniele Biffi, an Italian national resident in Germany, who had participated since 2012 in German amateur sports championships in the senior category, was excluded from a championship in March 2017 and was granted entitlement to participate in a championship that took place at the end of June and beginning of July 2017 only ‘outside classification’ or ‘without classification’ and, in the disciplines involving heats and a final, without being able to participate in that final.

By today’s judgment, the Court replies that, in circumstances such as those in the main proceedings, EU law precludes such rules unless they are justified by objective
considerations which are proportionate to the legitimate objective pursued, this being a matter for the Amtsgericht Darmstadt to verify.
The Court notes that it appears to be legitimate to limit the award of the title of national champion in a particular sporting discipline to a national of the relevant Member State and to consider that nationality requirement to be a characteristic of the title of national champion itself. However, it is vital that the restrictions resulting from the pursuit of that objective for EU citizens should observe the principle of proportionality.
In that regard, the two justifications put forward by the DLV do not appear to be founded on objective considerations.