This database contains a mapping of the main outcomes social dialogue processes and negotiations. These results met the definition of « social dialogue » used in this project (the detailed definition is presented below).

All the identified outcomes are listed and can be classified according to the country and sport to which they apply. Filters are available for more straightforward database navigation.

Alongside each outcome is a summary of the agreement’s content, the entire original text (if available), and a presentation of the industrial relations system in the country concerned (national context, legislation and operation of industrial relations, actors in employment relations, etc.). Each of these documents can be downloaded from the presentation page of each outcome.

Social dialogue is a process of negotiation by which different actors in society (“social partners”, representing workers and employers) reach agreement to work together on policies and activities. It is mutually agreed upon and based on the right to collective bargaining and on freedom of association.

Social dialogue can take place at multiple levels and is adopted based on context-specific circumstances which are diverse in legal framework, power relations, practices, and traditions. Underlying processes may thus not only vary from country to country, but also across sectors and sports disciplines based on the particular mutual relationships and interdependencies in place.

The following criteria characterise social dialogue within the present research context:

  • In addition to the general exchange of information on working conditions between employers and workers, the objective of social dialogue includes reaching mutual agreement(s) on labour and employment-related issues and processes.
  • Social dialogue requires, at a minimum, a two-way interaction between parties involved and is thus distinct from one-sided consultation processes and lines of communication.
  • None of the parties has unilateral decision-making power. Social dialogue requires equal rights and obligations during the negotiation process between the partners.
  • Social dialogue is characterised by some level of continuity and regularity in the exchange that arises from the mutual recognition of actors.
  • Social dialogue requires an adequate level of representativeness of the involved actors towards their respective constituencies.

While the usual social partners in professional sports encompass player unions and club associations, processes fulfilling the above criteria may also include other actors of the professional sport system, including, but not limited to, leagues, federations, and associations of trade unions.

For the purpose of this survey, we have divided the overarching types of “social dialogue” into three distinct categories:

  1. Collective bargaining
  2. Formal negotiations covering codified outcomes
  3. Formal negotiations covering only the documentation of processes


TYPE A: Collective bargaining is a common form of social dialogue at the company (club), sector (national sport federation, league), or cross-industry level between social partners that mutually recognise each other and represent their respective constituencies (workers, employers). Underlying negotiation processes can be bipartite as well as tripartite with the involvement of public/governmental authorities. Within this meaning, outcomes are collective bargaining agreements (CBA) that:

  • determine working conditions and terms of employment; and/or
  • regulate employment relations between employers and workers; and/or
  • regulate relations between employers or their organisations and a workers’ organisation or workers’ organisations (e.g. Memorandum of Understanding, terms of cooperation)

TYPE B: Formal negotiations covering codified outcomes that qualify as social dialogue in the sport sector do however not necessarily imply collective bargaining. Therefore, outcomes of social dialogue are not limited to collective (bargaining) agreements. Other (tangible) negotiation outcomes are for example minimum standards, joint action plans, standard form contracts, and/or recommendations. Here, the scope of negotiations can go beyond two or more (clearly) identified social partners as commonly practised in industrial relations. For example, in European football, this would not only entail negotiations between clubs and their players, but also the potential involvement of federations and leagues.

TYPE C: Formal negotiations covering only the documentation of processes may also qualify as social dialogue in the sport sector as long as they live up to the criteria introduced above. However, minutes, records and/or protocols of the meetings held are required to prove the formal character of the negotiations.

Scope: A total of nine (9) different types of professional sports across twenty (20) European countries were included in the study.

Selection of countries (purposive sampling): An initial selection of seventeen (17) countries was made based on the current membership structures of EUA and EASE (à 1st selection round: countries where member organisations of EUA and/or EASE exist, including BE, CZ, DK, EL, ES, FR, FI, IE, IS, IT, LI, NL, NO, PL, SE, SI, UK). To ensure a balanced coverage of different geographical regions and social welfare systems across Europe, three (3) additional countries (AT, DE, RO) where independent athletes’ organisations exist were included (à 2nd selection round).

Selection of sports (purposive sampling): Seven (7) types of professional team sports (incl. Basketball, Cycling, Handball, Football, Ice Hockey, Rugby, Volleyball) were chosen by virtue of their degree of professionalisation (in terms of the prevalence of employment relationships between clubs/teams and athletes/players across many of the selected countries). In addition, two (2) highly commercialised individual sports were included (i.e. Golf and Tennis). To account for specificities in national elite sports, a residual category for any other professional/commercialised sport in a given country (e.g. Futsal in Spain) was introduced.

The actual Mapping of the current state of processes of social dialogue relied on three consecutive data collection steps:

  • Piloting of the data collection tool with n = 11 stakeholders (including member organisations of both EUA and EASE) was conducted in the scope of a 1st Project Meeting held in Paris in July 2022. Individual feedback was provided on both substantial/content-related matters (e.g. on the set of questions and items) and procedural aspects such as on the functioning and practicability of the tool itself.
  • Distribution of the online tool among all the identified stakeholders in the selected types of sports and countries who (potentially) engage in social dialogue took place from January to May 2023. Furthermore, potential social partners operating at the European and international level were also contacted. Overall, a total of N = 360 stakeholders, including 214 federations, 54 leagues, 19 employers’ organisations, 73 athletes’ organisations, were invited to respond to the tool. This resulted in 54 data entries made by the invited stakeholders. The tool also enabled the respondents to provide additional information on outcomes and processes of social dialogue in their respective sports/countries they consider relevant for the present Mapping (“snowballing”).
  • Document and desktop analysis based on stakeholders’ input and additional information that was provided through the tool was conducted to verify and complement the gathered data. To this end, the project partners contacted some of the responding stakeholders via email and/or phone in order to clarify open questions regarding some of the identified outcomes and/or to follow up on additional information.

These three data collection steps, which took place from January to June 2023, led to the identification of a total of 40 social dialogue outcomes across the covered sports and countries.

The outcomes and documents included in the Mapping represent the status of the data collection as of 15 June 2023. This mapping does not constitute an exhaustive list of all existing social dialogue outcomes in professional sports in Europe and will, thus, be periodically updated if new data become available.

The partners are happy to receive additional input to the database. To submit information and data about social dialogue outcomes that are currently not included in the database, please access the data collection tool administered by the Institute of European Sport Development and Leisure Studies of the German Sport University Cologne. The tool is available in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish.

For questions and comments please contact the research team at