James Crisp. Freelance journalist in Brussels.

Hire me for journalism, moderation, and sparkling copy

Footballers ask Commission to abolish transfer system

Kevin de Bruyne was sold to Manchester City for €75 million. [Erik Drost/Flickr]

Kevin de Bruyne was sold to Manchester City for €75 million. [Erik Drost/Flickr]

The world union for footballers called for the transfer system to be “abolished” on Friday (18 September), and slapped in an EU legal challenge to FIFA that could ban transfer windows and drive down the price of players.

The current system amounted to “slavery” for many players, FIFPro said, with footballers being exploited by clubs and agents.

Transfer windows – periods when players can be bought and sold – drove up fees until they were indecent, said Philippe Piat, president of FIFPro, before pointing to Manchester City’s €75 million fee for Belgian midfielder Kevin de Bruyne.

FIFPro today filed a complaint with the European Commission, arguing that the transfer market broke EU law because big clubs keep the best footballers between themselves. It was also unfair under labour rules, it said.

The Commission has wide ranging competition law powers. In 1995’s Bosman Ruling, the European Court of Justice decided that players could leave clubs without transfer fees being paid when their contracts ran out.

High transfers meant that smaller clubs could not compete with the big clubs. 67% of players sold from big clubs went to other big clubs, said Theo Van Seggelen, secretary general of FIFPro.

FIFPro pointed out that players’ contracts were being used as financial tools rather than genuine labour contracts.

It was not unusual for players to extend their contracts before being sold. If they didn’t sign, they were often put in the reserves, said Piat.


In addition, FIFPro said young players were being “trafficked” to Europe by unscrupulous agents. The fact agents were meant to represent players, but were paid by the clubs, was unacceptable, Piat added.

Asked whether changing the transfer system would mean big clubs would simply raise wages, Van Seggelen said safeguards would be put in place to ensure teams were sustainable and competitive.

Smaller teams would then be in a stronger position eventually to compete with the larger teams.

The change was needed so that national leagues in smaller countries were still worth watching, he said.

The legal challenge comes after UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules – which were criticised for protecting the status quo of major teams – are being considered by EU judges.

Any decision by Brussels is likely to take many years before it could take effect. If the Commission backs the union, clubs will almost certainly appeal leading to lengthy court battles.

>>Read: Story on EurActiv

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on September 18, 2015 by in Competition law, Journalism and tagged , , .

Follow me on Twitter


Follow James Crisp. Freelance journalist in Brussels. on WordPress.com

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.



Una llave para salir a la otra Europa de la UE

Rachel Spencer Writes

Journalist, Copywriter and Communications Consultant

%d bloggers like this: