How a war and the UN changed the history of Euro 1992 – 05/04/2022

Andrei Kampff

The decision to “cancel” Russia from the sports movement also has unprecedented proportions, but it is not new within the sport. The political path of using sport as an instrument of international pressure in the necessary fight against the war, leaving legal issues in the background, was also taken in a case that changed the history of Euro 1992, with the exclusion of Yugoslavia and the entry of ” penetrates” Denmark.

But before getting to the history of the Euro, a contextualization is necessary.

The 1990s marked a time of major international conflicts in Eastern Europe due to the end of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, now Russia. One of the most intense and sad places of conflict was in the former Yugoslavia, with the attempt of some regions to seek independence from the country’s central government. In 1992, the country entered a civil war involving Croats, Slovenes and Bosnians

And, unlike now, when the sports movement itself advanced and decided to ban Russia, it was the international organizations that forced the private sports movement to remove Yugoslavia from sporting events in an indirect way, reaching the full extent of sporting autonomy.

The case of Yugoslavia

The United Nations Security Council, through Resolution 757 (1992) recalled the “primary responsibility under the United Nations Charter for the maintenance of peace and security”, obliging the UN member states to take “the necessary measures to prevent the participation in sporting events under its territorial coverage of persons or groups representing the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia”. That is, a UN member country could not receive teams from the country at war.

The Resolution denounced the disrespect of the former Yugoslavia in not allowing access to humanitarian aid, as provided for in the Resolution. There were also human rights issues on the agenda, but they did not advance. Just as the Council did not take into account sovereignty and nationality according to the sporting order.

Understanding the autonomy of sports entities, the Resolution did not mention sports organizations. Didn’t even need to reach the goal. As what matters most in the sporting order are its competitions, which will always be territorialized, the determination to prohibit national expression in sporting events by member countries already fulfilled its purpose also in the sporting field, limiting the autonomy of the lex sportiva about its actors and championships.

This happened on the eve of two major sporting events, the European Football Cup and the Olympics. That is, UEFA and IOC suffering irritations caused by external legal order. And each movement took a different path.

UEFA and IOC take different paths

In the wake of the UN, FIFA and UEFA decided to punish Yugoslavia and suspend the country’s National Football Federation. The decision came ten days before the start of the competition, based in Sweden. “We were ready to win the Euro”, recalled Serbian midfielder Jokanovic, in an interview with the Spanish newspaper El Pais. Denmark inherited the vacancy and made history. The players who traded their holidays for the main European national championship lifted the cup. The invader became the owner of the party. The competition introduced a historic generation of Danish talent to the world, such as Schmeichel, larsen and partnership.

The IOC, on the other hand, trying to preserve the athletes, found another way.

At the Barcelona 1992 Games, to circumvent the UN’s determination (which Spain would have to comply with) and guarantee the universality of the Games, the Committee based itself on what is now Rule 6.1 of the Olympic Charter, The Olympic Games are competitions between athletes […] and not between countries.” Thus, he created a neutral team with Yugoslav, Macedonian and former Soviet Union athletes.

In this way, the IOC was able to protect athletes and not put the lex sportiva in conflict with the lex publica. After all, the Security Council’s decision, although binding only member states, hit sports hard. The UN did not dialogue with the sports movement, not respecting the private and transnational ordering of exports.

This is another exemplary case of moments in sport in which different legal systems meet, and the one that is “outside” feels competent to determine paths that will reach the sports organization. Reflecting on these irritations is necessary to understand the limits of the autonomy of a legal order, which, however important it may be, will never be absolute.

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