Thursday, March 04, 2010

Great clunking fist

A BBC documentary has revealed that Londoners will not benefit from a "pre-sale" of tickets for the Olympic games thanks to EU competition law, which prevents discrimination in favour of the host country. Despite having swallowed the increases on their council tax since 2006 in order to fund the games, Londoners will apparently have to battle it out with 500 million Europeans for coveted games tickets.

International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge has said he is powerless to intervene, but helpfully suggested that the UK's European neighbours, especially France and Germany, would snap up the tickets, ensuring seats were filled.

As London Assembly Member Dee Doocey put it, "it's called European law and there's nothing you can do about it".

Favouring the host nation/side in ticket allocations is a long established principle in all manner of sporting fixtures, but is evidently not a principle that escapes the application of the great clunking fist that is EU competition policy.

3 comments:

OldStone50 said...

Social class discrimination is always an ugly thing. Is a Bulgarian less of a citizen of the EU than a Londoner? Actually, Londoners should be adamantly calling for discount tickets only for Germans and French and other tourists because it is the tourists, spending money and VAT, that may, with incredible luck, pay for the foolish Olympic boondoggle.

In any case, the "clunking fist" you refer to is not the EU attempting to reduce discrimination, but the London authorities who burdened their tax-payers with a virtually guaranteed long-term financial disaster.

quest said...

The Open Europe blog publishes many relevant and thoughtful entries on bumbling EU policy. This is not one of them. This is rather a cheap populist snipe. Particularly, I find it ironic that a blogger from the land that gave football hooliganism a face would argue for putting sports above law.

Open Europe blog team said...

Thanks quest. However, we were not suggesting that sport be above EU law, but merely highlighting how 'blunt' tools such as EU competition policy interact in an unexpected way with a long standing principle in sport (not just football) that the home side be recognised in ticket distribution. Competition policy has an important role to play in combating monopolies and regulating state aid, but few people might realise the role it plays in issues such as this.