Positions on the White Paper:
According to Ján Figel', EU commissioner for education, training, culture and youth, the White Paper is not legally binding, but rather "a show of political will to indicate the direction to be followed with regard to sport in the EU".
"The implementation of the White Paper can help pave the way towards future EU supportive action in the sport sector as the recent European Council has re-opened the possibility of a Treaty provision on sport," Figel' said, adding that a specific Sport Ministerial Council could then be envisaged.
"As agreed in the White Paper, the initiative does not weaken the application of EU law to sports. It means that there is no exclusivity given to sports over EU rules or content of EU law. A case by case approach remains the basis for Commission's control for implementation of EU law," he added.
Belgian centre-right MEP Ivo Belet (EPP-ED), who is drafting a Parliament report on the future of professional football, criticised the White Paper, referring in particular to the absence of "clear rules as regards players' agents".
He also deplored the lack of a clear incentive for "more solidarity in sports" by means of, for example, "opting for the collective selling of TV rights".
"The White Paper on Sports lacks ambition and courage. It undoubtedly contains positive elements, but it does not give a satisfactory answer to the questions raised by the European Parliament and the sports sector," Belet said.
UK Conservative MEPs were even more critical and urged the UK government "to ensure that the White Paper is shelved and a new consultation started to avoid confusion as to who now is responsible for overseeing sport in the UK".
"Politicians should not be interfering in sport, but as the EU seems determined to do it, it is essential that sporting organisations are involved at every stage. We need a proper consultation across all sports at all levels, not something hidden away in an obscure corner of the Commission's website," said Conservative MEP Chris Heaton-Harris (EPP-ED). "As it is, the Commission should withdraw this White Paper, re-consult and reconsider its conclusions," he added.
European sports associations have repeatedly emphasised that the organisation of sports needs should stay at organisational level. Therefore, they reject any proposals that would restrict the autonomy of sports or create EU regulations on competences currently resting on sports organisations.
Associations do not want to see sport becoming an EU competence, but rather call for it to be recognised as a horizontal matter affected by different EU policies, as well as placing sport into mainstream EU policies.
Dr Gernot Wainig, chairman of the European Non-Governmental Sports Organisation's (ENGSO) working group on EU affairs, said he was satisfied with the White Paper, but added that it is only a start, "a book with a lot of questions, without many answers, but some good proposals".
"The big matters, problems, issues (player agents, transfer, health, doping...) are in the book. A big identification with the result should be the next step to go on in a successful way," he said, reiterating, however, that the real competence is still missing and that without a treaty and a specific budget for the future, the sport policy area "will be poor".
"The Nice Declaration is the only legal interpretation, presented seven years ago, and since that there has been no development," he added.
A joint Fédération Internationale de Football Associations (FIFA)-International Olympic Committee (IOC) declaration states that "while the concept of a White Paper on Sport was to be welcomed, the content of the final version represents - unfortunately - a missed opportunity".
"The White Paper is structured in full contradiction with the actual architecture of the Olympic movement, ignoring in particular the regulatory competencies of the international federations, the division of responsibilities between the latter and their European confederations, the global nature of the issues and challenges currently affecting sport as well as the solutions which are today necessary," it said.
"The IOC, EOC, FIFA and UEFA had in recent months vainly worked in an attempt to convince politicians that they were heading in a direction that was not favourable to the promotion of sport. The Olympic Movement will, for its part, continue to cooperate with the member states and the Commission with a view to including sport into a new 'Reform Treaty' currently being evaluated by the Portuguese EU Presidency," stated the European Olympic Committee (EOC).
The Centrum für Europäische Politik (CEP), a German think-tank, described as "questionable" the measures proposed on advertising on television rights, gender equality and solidarity between sports clubs.
CEP advised the EU to seriously consider the autonomy of sports and the principle of subsidiarity, and said it should only intervene regarding cross-border problems.