BRUSSELS: In a case likely to spark interest from elite football clubs, the International Skating Union has failed to overturn a European Union order to stop penalising speed skaters for taking part in new, independently-organised big money events.

The judgment by the European General Court in Luxembourg has been compared with the Bosman Verdict which blasted away the old football transfer rules and checks in 1995.

In 2017 the European Commission ruled that the ISU had imposed “disproportionately punitive” sanctions on skaters and inhibited the creation of rival events in violation of EU antitrust rules.

The case centred on a complaint by Dutch Olympic speed skaters Mark Tuitert and Niels Kerstholt after ISU threats of a lifetime ban stopped them from competing in lucrative Ice Derby events run by a South Korean company.

The Luxembourg-based General Court agreed with the EU order.

Judges said: “The rules of the ISU providing for severe penalties for athletes taking part in speed skating events not recognised by it are contrary to EU competition law.