Media and entertainment: Sports in France

Clifford Chance

Clifford Chance's managing partner and corporate law expert Yves Wehrli has extensive experience assisting leading names in the industry with their most strategic matters. He notably advises professional federations on the organisation of major sports events, regulatory issues and the sale of TV broadcastings rights. Wehrli recently advised the French Tennis Federation on the sale of the television broadcasting rights for the Roland Garros Grand Slam tournament from 2021 to 2023. The practice is also one of the French Professional Football League's main advisers and recently sought Wehrli's advice regarding the sale of TV rights. Dispute resolution partner Thibaud d’Alés also contributes.

Practice head(s):

Yves Wehrli

Other key lawyers:

Thibaud d’Alés 

Testimonials

‘The Paris team quickly grasps cross-border legal issues. They provide excellent, timely advice and go above and beyond to get the right result.’ 

Key clients

Fédération Française de Football

Ligue de Football Professionnel

Fédération Française de Tennis

Paris Gay Games 2018

Work highlights

  • Advised the French Tennis Federation on the sale of the television broadcasting rights for the Roland Garros Grand Slam tournament from 2021 to 2023.
  • Defended Ligue de Football Professionnel in a commercial dispute initiated by media group Canal+ regarding the alleged loss of TV subscribers following the rescheduling of football games in reaction to ‘yellow vests’ protests.
  • Advised Ligue de Football Professionnel on the sale of the television broadcasting rights for the Ligue 1 and 2 French football championship for the 2020-2021 and the 2023-2024 football seasons.

De Gaulle Fleurance & Associés

De Gaulle Fleurance & Associés has a prominent client base composed of several professional sports federations, sports leagues and major sport event organisers such as the French Tennis Federation, Paris Olympics 2024 and football championship league UEFA. The firm provides all-round expertise, including public-law, IP, commercial law and TV rights issues. The practice was notably involved in several high-profile disputes pertaining to illegal sport event ticket sales. In addition, the practice assisted several professional players with various issues, including negotiating club transfer contracts. Rhadamès Killy is highly recommended. Louis de Gaulle and Agnès Macaire are also key contacts. The group welcomed Jean-Louis Valentin in 2019, who joined as of counsel and who brings valuable experience from his previous positions as deputy general manager at the French Football Federation and as general secretary of the International Motor Federation. Jean-François Vilotte, who was named general secretary of the French Tennis Federation, left the firm in 2019.

Practice head(s):

Louis de Gaulle; Rhadamès Killy; Agnès Macaire

Testimonials

‘A large spectrum of expertise particularly adapted to advising on major sport event projects. The firm has strong legal expertise.’

‘The team is available and responsive.’

‘Rhadamès Killy demonstrates perfect understanding of matters at stake, is highly responsive and has remarkable contract and IP law technique.’

Key clients

Amaury Sport Organisation

French Tennis Federation

Meïssa N’Diaye

Paris 2024 Olympics and Paralympics bid committee

Syndicat National des Moniteurs du Ski Français

UEFA

UNESCO

Joffe & Associés

Joffe & Associés' Romain Soiron is full-time dedicated to advising sport industry clients. He is a key adviser to major leagues and federations including the French Professionnal Football League, the French Football Federation and the French National Handball league. Soiron also regularly assists clients with strategic matters, such as negotiations of sponsorship and broadcasting rights contracts. The representation of clients in proceedings launched to stop illegal sport event streaming and ticket resale practices are another busy line of work. Major sports events organisation also forms part of the caseload, with the advice to the Organising Committee for the Women’s World Cups 2019, which was held in France, as a prominent recent example. The group was also retained by a high-profile football team. Associate Aude Benichou provides key support. As part of a full-service firm offering, the practice can rely on complementary expertise from other teams, including the litigation and employment practices.

Practice head(s):

Romain Soiron 

Testimonials

‘The firm has unique knowledge and experience in sports law and regulation, and its understanding of the sport industry is like no others. The firm actually knows the sport industry as well as its clients.’

‘The firm has incomparable knowledge of the sport industry. It quickly grasps matters at stake and provides total availability.’

‘Lawyers are available, responsive and knowledgeable. They provide adapted solutions.’

‘Romain Soiron has become the best lawyer around in the sport industry. He has a longstanding experience advising on media, sponsorship and commercial deals. He has a perfect understanding of clients’ needs. He certainly knows how to make everyone comfortable to work in the appropriate atmosphere and team spirit.’

Key clients

Organising Committee for the Women’s World Cups 2019

French Professionnal Football League

Asloum Event

French National Handball league

Première Ligue

French Football Federation

Work highlights

  • Advised the Organising Committee for the Women’s World Cup 2019 on the corporate aspects linked to the organising of the FIFA Women’s World Cup competition held in France in 2019.
  • Successfully represented the French Football League in proceedings before the Paris first instance court launched regarding the streaming website Rojadirecta in relation to illegal content streaming of French football championship Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 matches on its website.
  • Assisted professional French boxing organisation Asloum Event with the drafting and negotiation of contracts with the World Boxing Association and Altice in relation to a professional boxing event organized by Asloum Event.

August Debouzy

August Debouzy advises a major professional football and rugby club, several major sport media outlets and a sport event organiser on corporate and IP rights issues. The practice is also key adviser to Nike, whom it assisted with the negotiation of a major sponsorship contract with football club Paris Saint-Germain. The group also represents clients complex and sensitive criminal investigations, including the French anti-doping agency. Alexandra Berg-Moussa and Basile Ader co-head the practice. Also involved are corporate partner Laurent Cotret and IP/IT partner Mahasti Razavi.

Practice head(s):

Alexandra Berg-Moussa; Basile Ader 

Key clients

Nike

Olympique de Biarritz

L’Usine

Mr. Ghani Yalouz

Agence Française de Lutte contre le Dopage

LOSC (Lille Olympique Sporting Club)

Amer Sports Corporation

Work highlights

  • Assisted Lille football club LOSC with the audit of its accounts and budget before the National Directorate of Management Control (DNCG) and the negotiation of a €142m share capital increase with shareholders and banks.
  • Advised Nike’s legal department on the signing of a sponsorship agreement with football club Paris Saint-Germain.

AyacheSalama

AyacheSalama 's tax partner Jacques Messeca is adviser to major football players and clubs, such as football club Paris Saint-Germain and the French Premier League, as well as to several other sport federations, including the French rugby and basketball leagues. He provides strategic tax guidance and also advises clients on tax audits.

Practice head(s):

Jacques Messeca

Testimonials

‘The firm is an expert in tax and sports law. It provides excellent and accurate information to clients and is really responsive.’

‘Jacques Messeca is friendly, responsive, available and extremely professional.’

Key clients

PREMIERE LIGUE

LIGUE NATIONALE DE RUGBY

FEDERATION FRANCAISE DE RUGBY

UCPR

PARIS SAINT GERMAIN

CLASSICO SPORTS

XL SPORT

LOUIS KAWAY TOUTIN

LIGUE NATIONALE DE BASKET

DAVID LUIZ

DEMBA BA

RAPHAEL VARANE

GAEL KAKUTA

LASSANA DIARRA

HOUSSEM AOUAR

PARIS VOLLEY

TOULOUSE FOOTBALL CLUB

FC LORIENT

GIRONDINS DE BORDEAUX

Bignon Lebray

Bignon Lebray's Neil Robertson assists several French rugby clubs. He notably defends Stade Toulousain's rugby players in disciplinary proceedings and also regularly assists rugby clubs regarding shareholding investments.

Practice head(s):

Neil Robertson

Key clients

Stade Toulousain

CA Brive

Stade Niçois Rugby club

Golf de Maisons-Laffitte

Vivendi

Work highlights

  • Represented Stade Toulousain’s rugby player Zack Holmes before the disciplinary committees of the EPCR in relation to a red card suspension handed over during a Champions Cup quarter-final match against Racing 92 in March 2019.
  • Advised Stade Niçois Rugby club and certain partners and investors on the club’s restructuring, investments and corporate sponsorship.
  • Advised Brive Rugby in relation to Vivendi joining the club as new shareholder.

De Pardieu Brocas Maffei

De Pardieu Brocas Maffei's competition law partner Emmanuel Durand regularly advises the French professional football and basket leagues as well as the French Football Federation on various matters, including regulatory and competition law issues, marketing issues and the negotiation of TV broadcasting rights.

Practice head(s):

Emmanuel Durand 

Key clients

FRENCH PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE

FRENCH PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL LEAGUE

FRENCH FOOTBALL FEDERATION

SPORT & CO

CAA 11

PARIS 2024

PERNOD RICARD

ELLIOTT MANAGEMENT

Work highlights

  • Advised the Ligue de Football Professionnel on discussions with UEFA concerning the reform of the UEFA Champions League competition.
  • Advised Elliott Management on the refinancing of Lille Olympique Sporting Club.
  • Advising Ligue Nationale de Basket and its marketing agency SPORT&Co on contractual relationship matters with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles for the naming of the Pro A Championships (JEEP Elite).

KGA Avocats

KGA Avocats advises various sport federations, several football leagues and sports clubs. The firm notably assists with sport law issues, including litigation involving clubs, federations and players. Eve Derouesné is the key contact in that respect. Through François Klein, Laurent Badiane and Matthieu Bourgeois, the practice also provides IP, image rights and data privacy expertise.

Practice head(s):

Eve Derouesné; Marc de Monsembernard; François Klein; Laurent Badiane; Matthieu Bourgeois

Paul Hastings LLP

Paul Hastings LLP 's Jean-Louis Martin is key adviser to the National Rugby League whom he regularly assists with the sale of TV broadcasting rights.

Practice head(s):

Jean-Louis Martin 

Testimonials

‘The firm has proven expertise in the field of sport media rights.’

Key clients

Ligue Nationale de Rugby

Upswing

Work highlights

  • Assisted Ligue Nationale de Rugby with the sale to Canal+ of the global television broadcasting rights for the Top 14 rugby championship.
  • Assisted France-based marketing agency Upswing with marketing rights negotiations with the European Athletics Federation regarding the European Athletics Championships in Berlin in 2020 and in Paris in 2022.