Contractual stability in professional football: recommendations for club in a context of international mobility

Published 11 October 2009

By Diego F. R. Compaire (Italy/Argentina), Gerardo Planás R.A. (Paraguay) and Stefan-Eric Wildemann (Germany)

Contemporary football is caught between two very powerful concepts: the freedom of movement of players on the one side and contractual stability on the other. As it was shown in this research project, international migration has been part of football from the beginning. The decisions made by the European Court of Justice in relation to the Bosman case in 1995 entailed some large-scale changes in the transfer system of professional footballers.

In particular, players who were EU or EEA nationals could now freely move within the European Union at the end of their contract as any trans fer fees for out-of contract players were declared illegal. Second, the ‘3+2’ rule was abandoned for EU nationals. Certainly, these legal decisions have stimulated the freedom of movement of players. As can be observed from the profile of foreigners in the top 5 European leagues (England, Spain, Italy, Germany and Spain), cultural, historic and structural reasons continue to play a vital in the migration patterns of players. For example, whereas African players still constitute a comparatively high percentage of foreign players in France, many South American players are registered in the Italian Serie A and the Spanish Primera División. Another trend which has become visible is the decreasing age of the first international transfer of players. To counteract this development, FIFA has decisively restricted the transfer of minors under Article 19 of the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players.

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