“UEFA and the European Union, a game of two halves”

The Business of Sport – Seminar Series

Room  101 – Clore Management Centre, Birkbeck College, Torrington Square, London WC1 7HX

Wednesday 4th February 2009 at 6pm
(For directions click here)

“UEFA and the European Union, a game of two halves”

Given by:

Dr Borja García, Lecturer in Sport Management and Policy, Loughborough University


European football’s governing body (UEFA) has enjoyed a difficult relationship with the institutions of the European Union (EU) and, especially, with the application of EU law to its own decisions and activities. However, over the years UEFA has recognised the importance of EU institutions and EU law in the governance of European football. UEFA has learnt to engage with the EU and it considers now the EU an ‘strategic partner’ rather than an enemy. Despite the initial animosity towards European institutions that followed the Bosman ruling, UEFA might now be able to take advantage of the EU’s involvement in football-related matters to retain its legitimacy in football governance despite the challenges coming from players and top professional football clubs.

In this presentation Dr Borja García will outline of the evolution in the relationships between UEFA and the institutions of the European Union from mistrust in the aftermath of the Bosman ruling to the actual environment of co-operation and relative positive feeling on both sides. Drawing on extensive research in Brussels and Nyon that covers 45 personal interviews with policy practitioners and representatives from UEFA and the EU institutions, Borja will assess the transformations that UEFA as an organisation has undergone in the last decade in order to meet the challenges coming from within football (players, clubs, leagues) and outside football structures (EU institutions). The presentation will argue that the governance structures of European football have changed from a vertical pyramid to horizontal networks of governance, where UEFA’s power and authority has been challenged. However, the governing body is able to retain so far a central position in the new network structure thanks to a internal and external reform increasing the standards of governance and representation demanded by stakeholders and EU institutions.


  • García, Borja (2007) ‘UEFA and the European Union, from Confrontation to Co-operation?’ Journal of Contemporary European Research, vol. 3, n. 3, pp. 202-223.
  • Holt, M. (2007) `The Ownership and control of elite club competitions in European football’, Soccer and Society, 8 (1), pp. 50-67
  • UEFA (2005) Vision Europe, the direction and development of European football over the next decade. Nyon


Dr. Borja García is Lecturer in Sport Management and Policy in the Institute of Sport and Leisure Policy at Loughborough University, UK. He gained his PhD (Loughborough) with a thesis investigating the impact of EU policies on the governance of football in Europe and has an interest in the development of the EU sports policy and the study of UEFA as an example of a sport governing body that has learnt to accommodate the impact of the EU in its activities and policies. Dr. García has researched extensively the impact of EU decisions in the governance of football since the Bosman ruling and has published articles in peer reviewed journals such as the Journal of Contemporary European Research. He is currently preparing an edited book on the europeanisation of football at national level (Manchester University Press). As result of his research, Borja has advised informally Members of the European Parliament, the English FA or UEFA in issues related to the EU sports policy. He has also been invited to take part in the education programme for football directors of the Norwegian Football Federation. His research interests focus on agenda-setting and the development of EU sports policy, as well as the application of governance concepts such as accountability and legitimacy to the structures of international sports federations. Borja García’s background combines an academic interest in EU politics (College of Europe) with past professional involvement in media and sports journalism. Borja is one of the founding members of the Association for the Study of Sport and the European Union (

Contact Details:

Dr Borja García
Institute of Sport and Leisure Policy
School of Sport and Exercise Sciences
Loughborough University
Loughborough, LE11 3TU
Phone: +44 (0) 1509 226368

For further details on this seminar series contact:

Sean Hamil
Department of Management
Birkbeck College
Malet Street

Tel: 020-7631 6763 or Email:

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