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date: 05 March 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines restrictions that professional sports leagues and governing bodies place on the freedom of movement of professional players—both negotiated and imposed—and how these restrictions fit within the antitrust/competition and labor law regimes. This chapter engages in a comparison of the North American and European “models” of restrictions and finds that the North American “model” is more likely to withstand antitrust/competition law scrutiny. The North American model falls under the protections offered to collectively bargained agreements, while the European model currently faces scrutiny for potential violations of European competition law. Nevertheless, this chapter suggests that these two models are likely to converge as the internationalization of sport continues. European governing bodies may be pushed to negotiate with players more in the future, while North American leagues are already adopting “European” practices in regard to facilitating player movement among other professional leagues.

Keywords: competition law, antitrust law, contract law labor movement, nationality restrictions, eligibility restrictions, free agency, US-EU comparison

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