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EU backs Unibet over Tour de France ban

EU backs Unibet over Tour de France ban

The European Union criticized the treatment of the Unibet.com cycling team, which faces exclusion from the Tour de France in a dispute over its sponsor.
The Amaury Sports Organization, which organizes the Tour de France and Paris-Roubaix, has refused to allow the Belgium-Swedish team in its races because the online gambling sponsor is not registered in France.
"The whole matter is violating the rules of the internal market," European Commission spokesman Oliver Drewes said Monday. "No team can be excluded from another country just because you don't like the sponsor."
French law forbids foreign betting companies advertising in France.
Drewes said the EU's executive body had started legal action against France in October over gambling rules, which the commission says infringe European laws allowing companies to operate freely within the 27-nation bloc. EU Internal Market Commissioner Charlie McCreevy had written to race organizers to explain the law, Drewes said.
After keeping Unibet out of its competitions in France, ASO also expanded the ban to the Belgian one-day races Liege-Bastogne-Liege and the Walloon Arrow last week. But the team was allowed to race in the Belgian one-day classics Tour of Flanders and Ghent-Wevelgem, which are organized by local groups.
Drewes said it was "unacceptable" that the race organizers were imposing French rules on Belgium and Britain, where part of the Tour de France is scheduled to run this year.
The dispute over Unibet.com's participation has loomed over the ProTour season, with the International Cycling Union threatening a boycott of some races if Unibet.com is banned. A late agreement in March prevented a boycott of the season-opening Paris-Nice race.
ASO wants to control its races, inviting who they want, while the UCI wants a streamlined ProTour of the major races where the top 20 teams would get automatic entry.


Updated : 2021-07-24 13:30 GMT+08:00