On July 13, 2021, the TAR Lazio dismissed the application for annulment of a 2019 decision of the ICA (the “Decision”) lodged by the Italian Equestrian Sport Federation (“FISE”).[1]

The Decision established that FISE: (i) failed to comply with the commitments it offered to the ICA in 2011 in the context of a previous investigation (the “Commitments”); and (ii) abused its dominant position in the market for the organization of horse races and events having a professional, amateur or recreational nature, with a view to restricting the activities of competing operators with regard to the organization of amateur events.[2]

The Commitments, which the ICA had accepted and made binding on FISE, were aimed at preventing the Federation from limiting – through the regulatory powers it held in its capacity as the only national organization recognized by the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI) for equestrian sport – the organization of amateur equestrian events.[3] In particular, FISE undertook to issue a new regulation aimed at clearly distinguishing amateur from professional equestrian activities, and to exercise its regulatory powers only with regard to the latter. In addition, FISE committed to refrain from obstructing the organization of amateur activities and events by competing operators.

According to the Decision, FISE breached the Commitments by inter alia introducing new restrictive regulations, and sending letters of formal notice to competing operators active in the relevant market (such as clubs and sports promotion bodies) that did not comply with such regulations. The ICA found that such conduct also amounted to an exclusionary abuse, in that it prevented competing operators from having access to the market for the organization of equestrian events. In light of the foregoing, the ICA fined FISE over €451,000.

In its ruling, the TAR Lazio dismissed all the grounds for annulment raised by FISE, both procedural and substantive, thus fully upholding the Decision.

[1]              See TAR Lazio Judgment No. 8326 of July 13, 2021.

[2]              See ICA Decision of October 8, 2019, No. 27497, Case A378E, Federitalia/Federazione italiana sport equestri (FISE). For a short report of this decision, please see Cleary Gottlieb, Italian Competition Law Newsletter, October 2019.

[3]              ICA Decision of June 8, 2011, No. 22503, Case A378C, Federitalia/Federazione italiana sport equestri (FISE).