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What constitutes a sport? Bridge boosted by court ruling

European court judge says sport does not need ‘physical element’.

Bridge players who want sporting recognition have been dealt a good hand by a European court judge.

The English Bridge Union is continuing a campaign despite losing fights in London courts.

Sport England, which makes decisions about who should get public funds, has adopted a policy containing a definition of sport which includes a ”physical activity” ingredient.

That classification had been backed by judges in the High Court and Court of Appeal.

But a judge in the European Court of Justice, which is based in Luxembourg, has now concluded that “sport” need not contain a “physical element”.

The union’s latest sport classification battle is centred on tax.

Officials say they would not need to charge VAT on competition entry fees if bridge was classified as a “sport”.

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(Toby Melville/PA)

Specialist tax judges in England have considered the union’s argument and asked a European Court of Justice judge for an opinion.

Advocate General Maciej Szpunar has analysed the issue in the context of European Union tax legislation and says in a ruling just published: “Among the characteristics an activity must exhibit in order for it to be a ‘sport’… a physical element is not necessary.”

Union officials say the “recommendation” does not bind English tax judges.

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