Handbook on International Sports Law

Handbook on International Sports Law

Research Handbooks in International Law series

Edited by James A.R. Nafziger and Stephen F. Ross

This Handbook presents a comprehensive collection of essays by leading scholars and practitioners in the burgeoning field of international sports law.

Chapter 4: European and North American Models of Sports Organization

James A.R. Nafziger

Subjects: law - academic, comparative law, private international law, sports law


James A.R. Nafziger I. INTRODUCTION Comparative legal commentary on the organizational structure of sports, particularly of professional sports, has been of substantial interest in recent years. In particular, the commentary has compared European and North American models of organization.1 This chapter first describes the two models and then considers whether they are accurate and whether they remain divergent or are converging. Both models are largely European constructs. It is not surprising, therefore, that they are widely known among policymakers, practitioners, and scholars in Europe, especially the European Sports Model, but are relatively unknown in North America. It is also not surprising that, given the primacy of the European Sports Model, the North American Sports Model may simply be that which the European Sports Model is not. Even so, the models are useful in analyzing characteristics and trends in national and regional organization of sports. Comparing the models highlights divergent values and characteristics, sharpens analysis, and yields new insights. A few preliminary observations may be useful in defining the models. First, they are just that: models – that is, general representations of reality rather than precise descriptions of organizational structures. We should not expect too much of them. Also, we should not overlook significant variations within each of the two regions. The European Sports Model is based largely on a single sport, football/soccer, which dominates public attention on that continent. Other sports, however, have their own distinctive structures. For example, contrary to the monolithic structures of football/soccer in European countries,...

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