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Union royale belge des sociétés de football association ASBL v Jean-Marc Bosman and others, 15 December 1995, Case C-415/93

Facts: a Belgium football player, Mr. Bosman, had a contract with Belgium club side RFC Liege which had run out and he wanted to be transferred to French club Dunkerque. Liege, however, refused to let Bosman leave without the payment of a transfer fee which Dunkerque were unwilling to pay.

Complaint: Bosman claimed that as a European Union citizen, he possessed the right to "freedom of movement" within the European Union if he wished to find work (then Article 48 of the Treaty of Rome).

Holding: The ECJ upheld the legality of the system of transfers for football players and the existence of so-called 'quota systems', whereby only a limited number of foreign players were allowed to play in a club match.

Reasoning: the Court quoted the principle of freedom of association to rule against the applicant: “[this principle] is one of the fundamental rights which (…) are protected in the Community legal order. However, the rules laid down by sporting associations to which the national court refers cannot be seen as necessary to ensure enjoyment of that freedom by those associations, by the clubs or by their players, nor can they be seen as an inevitable result thereof."



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