Book Chapter

Some Reflections on Age Discrimination, Referees’ Retirement Ages and European Sports (Law)



McArdle D (2009) Some Reflections on Age Discrimination, Referees’ Retirement Ages and European Sports (Law). In: Gardiner S, Parrish R & Siekmann R (eds.) EU, Sport, Law and Policy: Regulation, Re-regulation and Representation. Den Haag: T.M.C. Asser Press, pp. 151-166.

Introduction: This paper is the first in a series of reflections on the relationship between discrimination, sport and the law, a body of work that has been motivated in part by the potential impact of the 2000 Equalities Directive upon European sports law, but also by developments in human rights jurisprudence and in the domestic laws of several jurisdictions. The phenomenon of age discrimination in sport, and the social and economic impact thereof, has been far less widely considered than is the case with other forms of sports discrimination (although the literature would miraculously emerge if the subject-matter were more directly concerned with men’s professional football). In contrast, free movement and competition law have impacted significantly upon sports provisions that discriminate on the basis of nationality; it is equally evident that age discrimination in the context of sports employment has not been considered with anything approaching the degree of sophistication that pervades our understanding of discrimination in occupation or employment on the grounds of disability, sexual orientation and religion/belief (the other discriminatory forms that are covered by the 2000 Directive); and our poor understanding of age-related sports discrimination generally stands in marked contrast to our appreciation of how challenges to discrimination on the grounds of sex and race have precipitated far-reaching changes to sports practices. Throughout the EU, with the possible exception of the Irish Republic, age discrimination law is far less advanced than is the case with discrimination which takes any of those other forms, the remedies are weaker and fewer people are aware of them. However, this state of affairs will undoubtedly change under the impact of the Equalities Directive, and even though the provisions themselves (and member states’ transposing of them) attract legitimate criticism, some longstanding practices of sports bodies are now open to challenge.

age discrimination; retirement; sport; European union; Sports Law and legislation European Union Countries; Age discrimination in employment; Football referees European Union Countries; Sports officials European Union Countries

Publication date31/12/2009
PublisherT.M.C. Asser Press
Publisher URL…09&type=&id=4211
Place of publicationDen Haag

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Dr David McArdle

Dr David McArdle

Senior Lecturer, Law