Bridge really isn’t a sport, rules European Court of Justice

The game of bridge may flex the intellectual muscles but the EU’s top court has ruled that it is not a sport because it involves “negligible” physical activity.

The ruling is a blow to the English Bridge Union, which claimed that as a sport the card game qualified for VAT relief on tournament entry fees.

The European Court of Justice ruled yesterday that the “ordinary meaning” of sport should apply, namely to activities that were “characterised by a not negligible physical element”. However, the game could be covered by another VAT exemption for “cultural services”.


The bridge union said the ruling was a “surprise and disappointment”.

Mark Stephens, of the law firm Howard Kennedy, said: “Of course bridge is not a sport. It’s barely snap. All of those bridge players pumping iron in preparation for international competition will now have to pay the taxman his fair share.”