Home Brussels FIFA should lose EU legal dispute over player transfer rules, court aide says

FIFA should lose EU legal dispute over player transfer rules, court aide says

by editor

World football’s governing body FIFA should lose a European Union court dispute over player transfer rules, a legal adviser to the EU’s top court said Tuesday.

Advocate General Maciej Szpunar said that FIFA’s rules – which make it harder for players to move to another team – may restrict players’ EU right to move across the bloc. While judges don’t have to follow the court aide’s recommendations in their final ruling, they often do.

Under FIFA’s rules, players may have to pay football clubs compensation when their contracts are terminated without “just cause” and any team they sign with is also liable to pay up.

The Court of Justice is ruling on a dispute from an unidentified professional player based in Paris whose contract at Russian football club Lokomotiv Moscow was terminated after one year over an alleged breach of its terms.

The player challenged the decision in court in Belgium after a potential deal with Belgium’s Sporting du Pays de Charleroi fell through because of the FIFA rules. He is seeking €6 million in damages and loss of income. The EU court must rule on points of EU law to advise Belgian judges who will handle the final decision.

“There can be little doubt as to the restrictive nature” of FIFA’s regulation on the status and transfer of players, Szpunar said in his opinion.

“By their very nature, the contested provisions limit the possibility for players to switch clubs and, conversely, for (new) clubs to hire players, in a situation where a player has terminated his or her contract without just cause,” he said.

“The contested provisions, by limiting clubs’ ability to recruit players, necessarily affect competition between clubs on the market for the acquisition of professional players,” he said.

The case is Case C-650/22 FIFA.

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