Bosman: Marc II? — restrictions on ability of footballers to move between clubs ‘infringes their human rights’

On 17 December 2013, FIFPro, the international body representing professional footballers, announced its intention to launch a challenge against the football transfer system. FIFPro’s newly appointed president, Philippe Piat, is alleging that the system fails to protect the fundamental principle of the free movement of workers within the EU, and that any restrictions imposed on the ability of players to move between clubs infringe players’ human rights.

Workers’ rights to free movement are enshrined in article 45 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which states that all workers shall have the right to accept offers of employment and move freely within the European Union in order to do so. The application of this principle to the world of football was made famous by the case of Jean-Marc Bosman decided in 1995, which established the principle that players must be permitted to move ‘on a free’ at the end of their playing contract in order to join a new club. However, Piat now argues that this does not begin to go far enough, and that footballers will only enjoy the same rights as other workers if they are allowed to end their contracts by serving notice on their employers, as in any other industry…

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