With European elections coming up in May 2019, you probably want to know how the European Union impacts your daily life, before you think about voting. In the latest in a series of posts on what Europe does for you, your family, your business and your wellbeing, we look at what Europe does for football players.
Twitter Hashtag #EUandME
Whether you’re a fan or a player, you will know that EU football clubs play under the supervision of the UEFA – the Union of European Football Associations. In 2014, UEFA estimated the total number of EU players to be close to 18 million, competing under the watchful eyes of more than a quarter of a million referees. Meanwhile, total European football market revenues keep growing, and reached almost €25 billion in 2015/2016.
Much of what modern football looks like today is a result of the landmark 1995 Bosman case, in which the European Court of Justice (ECJ) upheld the principle of free movement of EU workers. The court allowed football players to move to another club once their contracts expired, without a transfer fee or the consent of the releasing club. This enabled players to demand sign-on fees and pay rises from their current club. Apart from making the transfer system more flexible, the ruling also ended any discrimination on grounds of nationality. Pre-Bosman the UEFA ‘3+2’ rule permitted a maximum of three foreign players and two ‘assimilated players’ to play in European competitions. The ECJ ended these quotas and any limit on the number of foreign players that can play for a team. Other cases extended these rules to players from non-EU countries who already play in a Member State.
To protect players from investors controlling their sporting career, the European Commission upheld FIFA’s ban on third party ownership. The Commission also supports making football governance more transparent and fights corruption and match fixing, hooliganism and doping.
- EPRS publication on EU sport policy,
- EPRS publication on third party ownership of football players,
- EPRS publication on match fixing,