Tuesday, 2 December 2008

When you just can’t win

As I recently noted here the French Presidency, motivated by its jealousy of the success of the English Premier League, is trying to establish a European regulator for sport. Bernard Laporte, the French Sports Minister and former international rugby coach, was reported to be complaining that the success of English football was getting out of hand and therefore required the EU to get involved as a means of ‘levelling the playing field’.

France has criticised the liberal financial rules in the UK which allow teams to borrow heavily to not only finance the huge salaries used to attract top players but also to be able to retain those stars by regularly increasing their wages. Other European countries have much stricter regulation which prevents them from being able to do the same.

EUobserver reported that Laporte stated during last week’s summit of EU sports ministers; "We see European competitions between participants of two or three nations…Where is the uncertainty in such a sporting contest?" Well Bernard, surely it is for those countries whose clubs are underperforming to buck up their ideas, not those countries with successful clubs to be punished for their victories.

It seems such a bizarre way to approach things, punishing the successful and thus approving the various systems that create substandard and uncompetitive teams. But then isn’t that the story of the EU; the UK is on a daily basis brought down to an at best level of mediocrity by the harmonisation of laws at EU level. Our competitive edge in so many areas has already been extinguished by our membership of the EU, and sport (along with many other areas) clearly faces a similar threat.