Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2008-05-08-Speech-4-050"

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"Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, let me first thank the Commission and Commissioner Figeľ for their initiative in drawing up the White Paper on Sport and the Pierre de Coubertin Action Plan. This is the EU’s first effort to deal with sporting matters. The second issue is the sale of media rights. As we all know, the 27 EU Member States go about selling television rights for major sporting events in different ways. This is especially true of Champions League matches and the UEFA Cup. Rights can be sold either individually or collectively, but they are the main source of income for professional sport in Europe. Similarly, rights to sports events are a vital source of programme content and income for many media owners. Parliament’s report also recognises the importance of fairly redistributing income among sports associations, however small, and between professional and amateur sport. The collective sale of media rights, which the Commission presents as incompatible with competition law, is therefore important for the redistribution of income. It may thus help to achieve greater solidarity among sports. We therefore call on the Commission to recognise collective sales and accept that such practical solidarity among small sports clubs is sanctioned by law. Lastly, as we stated in the Belet report on professional football, UEFA and FIFA should reach agreement and work with the agencies of the Commission. They must ensure that football is universally accepted by the citizens and Member States of the EU without losing its independence; it must not overstep the powers conferred on it by the statutes. It is important for everyone that UEFA and FIFA recognise in their statutes the right of recourse to common courts. We must, of course, accept the principle of self-regulation and the structures of the European model of sport governing the organisation of sports events. Let me end by reaffirming the satisfaction we all feel at the official recognition of sport by the Member States in the reformed Lisbon Treaty. We do of course recognise and respect the special nature of sport. It is of great significance for Member States and the sporting world in general that the EU will in future be able to substantially contribute to and promote European policy on sport. May I also thank Commissioner Špidla for being here today in place of Commissioner Figeľ, who is travelling outside Europe. My thanks also go to my colleagues from the Committee on Culture and Education and to the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, the Committee on Legal Affairs, the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, the Committee on Regional Development and the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality. They have cooperated excellently in drafting the report on the White Paper on Sport. In the European Parliament report, the key points of the White Paper were covered by 16 conciliation amendments jointly agreed by all the political groups in the Committee on Culture. The main points were also covered by 426 amendments tabled to the lead committee and to the other seven committees, which gave their opinions. Doping is once again the focus of attention because there are unfortunate examples of it every year in almost every sport. Through the White Paper, the European Parliament seeks to adopt measures allowing athletes not be forced by their heavy schedules to resort to performance- and stamina-enhancing substances. In addition, internal and external independent checks on professional associations and sports organisations, as well as educating male and female athletes on the side effects of doping may help to curb this problem. Debates have focused on two issues of the financial side of sport. The first is sports betting. We in the Committee on Culture all agree that the possible deregulation of the gaming and lotteries market will be problematic for the funding of amateur sport so long as the existing system of state betting agencies provides it with considerable income. For this reason, the White Paper calls on Member States and the Commission to adopt regulations which ensure that amateur and professional sport is protected from any improper influence relating to betting. While continuing to protect the betting market, we are thus increasing transparency, and also guaranteeing the state aid for amateur sport, culture and other social activities."@en1
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