Belgian Competition Authority takes follow-up decision regarding its earlier interim measure imposed on the Belgium Bumper Pool Association

September 25, 2020

#sportslaw #competition #bumperpool

Friday, 25 September 2020 – On 28 August 2020, the Belgian Competition Authority (‘BCA’) took a follow-up decision on the interim measure it imposed 7 months earlier on the Belgian Bumper Pool Association (‘Belgische Golfbiljartbond or ‘BGB’) concerning the bumper pool balls that can be used in official competitions and matches. The follow-up decision followed a request from a competitor, HCSB BVBA, to verify compliance with the imposed interim measure and, where appropriate, to impose penalties.

As a reminder, in its interim decision of 24 January 2020, the BCA gave the BGB two choices:

  • To suspend the obligation to exclusively use Saluc’s bumper pool balls from the start of the 2020-2021 season until the BCA’s final decision; or
  • To have the authorised bumper pool balls determined for a maximum of two playing seasons on the basis of a non-discriminatory tender from the start of the 2020-2021 season.

In both situations, the BCA authorised the BGB to stipulate that the balls should have certain objectively determinable characteristics (such as ball weight, diameter, material, and rotation speed) that would not create a statistically significant advantage for players who had practiced with a particular brand of ball.

For more details on the interim measure decision, we refer to our earlier blog on the matter.

After initially opting for the second option of a tender, the BGB subsequently decided to go for the first option and proceeded to a modification of its Rule book to impose certain technical specifications on bumper pool balls before they can be admitted.

After an examination of the published amended Rule book (which differed on some crucial points from the version of the Rule book communicated to the BCA), the Competition College concluded that the BGB has not implemented the interim measure correctly and imposed some additional requirements:

  • The BGB should specify in its Rule book that the scope of application only covers matches organised by the BGB and its affiliated associations and clubs;
  • It is possible to state the weight and diameter of the balls as technical specifications, but the Rule book should foresee a margin of error and not only fixed values;
  • The material requirement of compacted phenolic resin should be replaced by the requirement that the balls should be manufactured from phenolic resin with the additional clarification that the hardness of the balls should have a minimum of 72 HRH and a maximum of 88 HRH;

The Competition College also obliged the BGB to publish on its website a modified compliant version of its Rule book within 5 working days of the decision and to take a decision on the approval of bumper pool balls and publish it on its website within one week of receiving a request for approval. A penalty of 125EUR was set for each day’s delay.

This decision clearly shows that the BCA takes a request for verification of the correct implementation of an interim measure seriously.

A final decision on the merits of the case will follow later.

For this article, the Atfield team was able to rely on the dedicated assistance of ALTIUS lawyers Carmen VERDONCK ( and Hanne BAEYENS ( ).