ARTICLES

Liga Portugal, clubs and journalists

Restrictions imposed on journalists when acting as sports agents violate the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic relating to freedom of expression and information and freedom of the press and media.

The Regulation of Competitions Organized by the Liga Portugal (LP), approved by the LP clubs, has been the target of many criticisms, mainly due to the restrictions imposed by article 91 regarding the “Flash interview”.

From the outset, journalists, when acting as sports agents, who ask questions that are not regarded as appropriate or acceptable, for not referring “exclusively to the occurrences of the game” that they followed, can be subjected to disciplinary proceedings, with possible sanctions by the Disciplinary Board (CD) of the Portuguese Football Federation (FPF).

In legal terms, the question of whether there is a possible conflict between this rule and the fundamental values/principles safeguarded by the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic, more specifically article 37 of freedom of expression and information and article 38 of freedom of the press and the media, arises.

Over the years, football has been considered a “world apart”, with the applicability of certain norms – and now the Constitution itself – being ignored. The specific characteristics of this activity and the desire of its institutions to consider it unique have justified this regime of exception.

As an example, in the past, several questions were raised about the applicability of the principles of the European Union’s Single Market, established in the treaties, to Sport, which were only settled when Sport became subjected to European Union Law – let us remember what happened in the Bosman case.

Can the football world now fail to comply with the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic?

It most definitely cannot, and we consider that there was a failure of the competent bodies to monitor the conformity of the regulation in question.

It is now up to Pedro Proença, President of the LP, to meet with the clubs and change the rule at the LP’s General Meeting, something that should be done as soon as possible, despite the effects of this change only coming into effect in the next sports season – it will be another eight “illegal” months.

As an exception, there is also the possibility of an intervention on behalf of the Government, amending the Regulation of Competitions Organized by the Portugal League with immediate effects, which would solve the issue outright.

The content of this information does not constitute any specific legal advice; the latter can only be given when faced with a specific case. Please contact us for any further clarification or information deemed necessary in what concerns the application of the law.

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João Meireles lawyer
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