Wednesday, December 14, 2005

10 Years of Bosman

In 1969, baseball player Curt Flood challenged the traditional "reserve clause" in American sports contracts. Basically, the reserve clause put all the power over where a player would play with the club and prevented players from moving freely between teams once their contracts expired. Flood's legal battle (unsuccessful, but eventually forcing the negotiate end of the clause), up to the Supreme Court, marked a seismic shift in American sports.

For two decades after Flood's legal battle, a version of the reserve clause lingered on in European soccer. Players could only move between clubs if they were bought and sold, regardless of whether they were under contract. In 1995, a journeyman Belgian midfielder named Jean-Marc Bosman challenged that practice in European Court of Justice. Unlike Flood, Bosman won his case, instantly changing the face of European football. Not only did players become free agents once their contracts expired, but the Court ruled that UEFA rules limiting the number of "foreign" players in a team could not be applied to players from European Union countries. As a result, teams like English giants Chelsea and Arsenal have fielded teams without any English players.

BBC Sport takes a look at the effects of Bosman 10 years on.

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