Sports Law in Germany

Legal advice for sports associations, sports clubs and sponsors

Sports law is a cross-sectional matter of association law, tax law, corporate law, employment law, criminal law and international law. Sports law is as diverse as it is complex in its application. Not only does it bring together the most diverse fields of law, it also affects the rights of different groups, each of which represents very different interests: Sports associations, sports clubs and their bodies as well as officials on the one hand, athletes and sponsors on the other.

But that's not all: A large number of regulations in sports law do not often have their origin from the German legal area. Globalization has been a living reality in sport for years. For sports clubs and sports associations as well as for athletes, trainers, sponsors, sports agencies and sports companies, it is therefore hardly possible nowadays to find their way around sports law without a specialized advisor. This is the case especially in well-paid professional sports.

Law of associations and federations in sports

Sports clubs and sports associations can, within the framework of the applicable law on associations, develop their organization, structure and rules autonomously. The question as to which rights and which duties are incumbent on the members plays a key role in this respect. In individual cases, it can be difficult to formulate the regulations with legal certainty and with binding effect vis-à-vis the club and the superordinate sports associations. A frequent point of dispute in practice is whether and how the regulatory and penal power of the clubs/associations can be enforced against the individual club members.

Questions of club and association jurisdiction – arbitration – as well as the possibilities and the scope of the control of club regulations and measures by the state jurisdiction are also relevant at both national and international level.

A good sports lawyer must therefore have in mind: Both the association's and federation's internal regulations for the settlement of disputes in the arbitration rules and statutes as well as the legal requirements of the state procedural codes.

Sport and taxes

The vast majority of sports clubs and sports associations are recognized as nonprofit organizations. The law on nonprofit organizations grants them numerous tax benefits. However, sports clubs and sports associations are subject to numerous special regulations under nonprofit law, e.g. regarding the use of paid athletes, the staging of sporting events or VAT law. It is also difficult for those responsible when, in addition to purely non-material sporting activities in youth and amateur sports – such as professional football – large professional departments or even corporations to which the licensed player operations have been or are to be spun off are involved.

Tax law in sport therefore not only concerns the taxation of sports clubs and sports associations, but also the taxation of sports corporations and, of course, the taxation of the athletes themselves. In addition to the tax law of public utility, the classic corporate (tax) law is also applicable to professional sports.

Given the international nature of sport, questions of the unlimited or limited tax liability of a sportsperson in Germany, the taxation of foreign sportspersons in Germany and double taxation agreements must also be clarified. In addition, cross-border player transfers and player loans raise a variety of tax issues.

Drafting contracts in sports law

Sports clubs and sports associations are confronted with a large number of contracts. In addition to the tax-optimized drafting of sponsoring and utilization contracts (stadiums, arenas, etc.), the legally secure drafting of sports performance contracts plays a particularly important role in practice.

In addition, managerial and management contracts, but also advertising agency contracts are relevant for the individual sportsperson and should not be concluded without expert advice.

Liability in sports

Not everything always goes as planned in sports organizations. Due to the large number of complex tasks, those responsible are exposed to a wide range of liability risks. In their daily work, board members and other agents, such as managing directors and project managers, can trigger liability claims from members or third parties, which are directed against the NPO, but also against the agents themselves. We support you in avoiding tax and nonprofit liability risks. We provide reliable assistance to those involved in liability cases that have already occurred.

Stadium bans

We regularly advise our clients on the imposition of stadium bans. "Fans" who are affected often file a complaint against the stadium ban. In these cases, we will of course represent you in court. Our attorneys will be happy to advise you on the stadium ban and all related questions.

Criminal law in sports

Illegal doping in sport is particularly relevant under criminal law. Sports manipulation for purposes inherent in sport and for non-sporting purposes (e.g. betting manipulation) is also punishable. Classic commercial criminal law (e.g. embezzlement and fraud) likewise has a part to play in sport.

Our consulting services in sports law

  • Drafting, review and revision of association by-laws, rules of procedure and other internal organization/association documents, particularly in relation to problems relating to nonprofit law, association law and liability law
  • Restructuring of associations
  • Transformation, spin-off and merger of associations and departments
  • Development and implementation of suitable compliance systems in the association/federation
  • Optimization of the liability constitution of clubs and associations
  • Support for licensing procedures
  • Drafting and negotiating contracts (sponsoring contracts, manager contracts, management contracts and advertising agency contracts)
  • Hospitality Consulting
  • Transfer support
  • U.S. visa for athletes and coaches
  • Planning of optimal nonprofit and tax law structures (spin-off of the professional department, tax optimization for commercial business operations, special purpose companies and sporting events, optimization of sponsoring contracts etc.)
  • Advice on tax liability issues
  • Representation of clubs as well as team and individual athletes before the sports courts of the associations, the arbitration courts of sports, e.g. German Institution for Arbitration (DIS) and state courts
  • Expert opinions

Your attorney for sports law in Frankfurt and nationwide

Consequently, not only qualified legal work in various fields of law is in demand, but also practical knowledge of the special requirements in sports law. As your experienced attorneys for sports law, Dr. Thomas Dehesselles (Certified Specialist for Sports Law) and Johannes Fein (Certified Specialist for Tax Law) will answer your questions. Please do not hesitate to contact us with your questions. You can easily reach us by e-mail (info@winheller.com) or by phone (+49 (0) 69 76 75 77 80).

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Juve AwardLegal 500 Germany 2019
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