Camilleri back at MBA to face the music with European Commission

Friday, December 3, 2010, 11:30

by Sandro Micallef.

It must have been a sigh of relief for basketball fans as they heard the news that Frank Camilleri is back in office.  Camilleri had resigned from his post citing an array of reasons for his decision amongst which he said that there are certain people involved in the local game of basketball that are purposely creating obstacles for the administration of the game.

Frank Camilleri (left) back at MBA after he had written to the MBA that his resignation decision was irreversible

Frank Camilleri (left) back at the MBA after he had written to the MBA that his resignation decision was irreversible

It is believed that Magistrate Antonio Mizzi managed to convince Camilleri to retain his position as General Secretary after lengthy talks.

This website has information that one of the reasons for which Camilleri had decided to step down was due to the pressure that he was facing from the President of the Siggiewi Basketball Club, the Hon. David Agius. The latter is insisting that his club must be given the green light to play a foreign player, Clement Kodomaris, but on the other hand the MBA has imposed a restriction on the use of foreign players for this season.

This issue is expected to be escalated even in EU institutions by the Nationalist member of the European Parliament Dr. Simon Busuttill who has confirmed, in an article published on The Times earlier this week, that he will report such an issue to the Commissioner responsible for Sports.

Frank Camilleri will definitely have to make a strong case to respond to the eventual questions put forward by the European Commission on this issue.

Full article below: Source www.timesofmalta.com

Restrictions on foreign basketball players

Simon Busuttil

Clement Kodomaris writes:

Does EU law allow a sports association in Malta to limit the number of foreign players participating in a national sports league?

If an association limits the number of foreign players to just one per team without the agreement of all clubs involved does this mean the rights of individual EU citizens are being violated?

Can I, as an EU citizen working legally in Malta, be stopped from playing basketball in Malta because the Malta Basketball Association decided to limit the number of foreign players to just one per team?

Is this policy discriminatory?

What redress do I have?

* * *

Androulla Vassiliou the EU Commissioner responsible for Sports who is being informed about the issue

Androulla Vassiliou the EU Commissioner responsible for Sports who is being informed about the issue

Over the past years, I have often dealt with this issue in this column. I have had similar queries in relation to football, waterpolo and now even basketball.

But the answer remains the same, namely that it is illegal to restrict the number of foreign players who are EU citizens in local leagues, more so if the restriction is as draconian as it appears to be in the case of the local basketball league.

From the information I have gathered, it appears the national basketball association in Malta does indeed restrict the number of foreign players in our local league. It also transpires that, recently, the rules of the association were changed to limit non-Maltese players to just two. This limit covered both non-Maltese nationals who are EU citizens and those who are not EU citizens.

Then, in August this year, the council of the association revised the registration and licensing policy again. As a result of this revision, the association now restricts basketball clubs even further by limiting them to the registration of just one non-Maltese player over the age of 18. Again, this restriction applies not just to non-EU citizens but also to EU citizens who are not Maltese nationals.

Now to the extent that this limit applies to EU citizens who are not Maltese, it is restrictive of freedom of movement and can therefore be said to fall foul of EU law.

The European Court of Justice has, on more than one occasion, ruled that restrictions on the number of players who are nationals of other EU countries are prohibited. And, although there may be cases where restrictions could be justified, the fact that, in this case, the restrictions were made even more harsh shows the association is going in the opposite direction – tightening restrictions instead of restricting them. This makes the illegality even more blatant and difficult to justify.

Let me now come to the issue of redress.

When a person feels aggrieved that his EU rights have been violated, redress may be sought directly in the national courts. One does not need to go to the European Court of Justice but to the local courts. In other words, one has to institute legal proceedings in court here in Malta to obtain a court ruling on the matter.

However, in this case, it may not be easy because sports associations are known to prevent players and clubs from seeking redress in national courts, often on pain of termination of membership. This appears to be the case also in the statute of the local association. This means that an aggrieved person or club may not easily turn to court for a remedy.

The European Court has addressed this problem. It stated that the abolition of obstacles to freedom of movement for persons “would be compromised” if they “could be neutralised by obstacles resulting from the exercise of their legal autonomy by associations or organisations not governed by public law”.

For this reason, the European Court puts the responsibility on national authorities to see to it that sports associations provide adequate remedies. If not, it would be the member state concerned that would find itself facing infringement proceedings for breach of EU law. In this case, therefore, the national authorities in Malta should approach the association to ensure it respects EU law. If not, they will have to face the music in Brussels themselves.

Of course, for a player prevented from playing this process is likely to be long and frustrating. More so if the proceedings end up taking so long that, in practice, he would be excluded for an entire season.

This is not fair and it should not be allowed. Associations should lead by example and not drag their feet at the expense of aggrieved individuals.

For this reason, I will raise this issue directly with the European Commission by writing to the commissioner responsible for sports in order to draw her attention to this matter and to ask her to intervene with urgency.

www.simonbusuttil.eu

Dr Busuttil is a Nationalist member of the European Parliament.





5 Comments

  1. E.R. says:

    Rules were agreed at the beginning of the season why change them now? Maybe cause Siggiewi need to players to beat Athleta? How many clubs afford to pay professional players in the long run? Better to focus on the state of the court at the moment.

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  2. Anti Luxol says:

    I am still at a loss why the MBA favours Luxol when the latter cannot even rally any supporters when they had a winning squad, thanks to Makki with the blessing of the MBA.

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  3. Anti Luxol says:

    The one person happy to see Frank Camilleri back is Lollipop John. Laqqi bil kbir!!!!!

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    Sportiv Reply:

    Lollipop John ?? I wonder why ………… hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

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  4. Edmund Farrugia says:

    3 years ago I myself brought up the same issue with Simon Busuttil and also Frank Camilleri and even though the latter tried to hide behind the issue that Malta Basketball Association was an amateur association, Simon Busuttil had told him that this does not hold water. The issue then was regarding Makki who then was playing for Luxol and yet Makki work permit stated that he was a PROFESSIONAL PLAYER!!!
    It all started with Makki and this is just a domino affect.

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