‘There should be limits to be placed on the transfercircus in football’

Haggling? Plain commerce? In any case, the transfer system in football is in conflict with higher norms, says Niels Verborgh. “There are violations of various provisions of the European and national law. The gap between the practice and the law is a worrying situation.”

Neymar © Belga Image

222 million euro. So many paid the French PSG to FC Barcelona in order to assure itself of the services of the Brazilian balvirtuoos Neymar. The transfercircus in football seems to be no limits to know.

But is this true? Increasingly, diving scientific studies that conclude that the transfer system in its current context is illegal. Excessive transfer fees seem to be incompatible with the free movement of workers and furthermore, the transfer system also other legal problems. Still, it seems a solution is still a long time to wait.

High transfer fees are inconsistent with the free movement of workers

A transfer fee is not in itself unlawful because it actually acts as a payment in lieu of notice for the termination of an employment contract. However, the problem is that the transfer fees in the last years decadentere proportions are hiring. That the transfer fees are high, in the first place, a lot to do with the high spelerssalarissen and the long duration of contract. But there is more to the story.


Should limits be placed on the transfercircus in football.

Currently, the transfercircus so bonkers that the transfervergoedingen go much further than necessary. The proportionaliteitszin is missing entirely and so is the transfer fee is at odds with the eu legal provisions on the free movement of workers.

The sky-high transfer fees are problematic because they can prevent a footballer will be transferred to a certain team. If a club is too high a transfer fee on the head of a player stickiness, reduces this for the player as possible, the search for another club. Not every potential new employer may be the (too) high transfer charge to pay.

The European Commission has also a few years back already warned for the ‘artificially inflated transfer fees in football’. To a fair conduct of the competition and the contractstabiliteit to ensure, would be a transfer fee not further than necessary.

Studies show that the transfer fees the fair conduct of a competition, jeopardize, because only the richest teams still able to make the high transfervergoedingen lay it on the table. It would have been more logical if the footballer, who is an employee like any other, only a cancellation fee to pay which is consistent with the statutory scheme of labour law.

Credit transfer system, is problematic under the European mededingingsrechtDelen

The transfer rules hinder the free competition between the clubs because the usual system of demand and supply is curtailed.

The transfer system is also at odds with European competition law. This is partly because the competition between football clubs, partly due to the credit transfer system is inadequate. But on the other hand also because the FIFA one-sided a large part of the rights that professional footballers forward, can dictate through its regulatory power.

The transfer rules miss their goal: FIFA wanted a transfer system that provided a financial and competitive balance, but in practice, it fails one to achieve this goal. The richest clubs dominate the transfer market and only the most elite clubs are still able to be the best (read: most expensive) players to get. The transfer system provides a competitive imbalance: the clubs that spend the most money to spend will generally win more often. This is a sporty domination of a select wreath of wealthy teams, both at national and at European level.

Transfer rules to prevent in addition, the free competition between the clubs because the usual system of demand and supply is curtailed. Sporteconoom Stefan Késenne states that the transfer market is a closed system of the top clubs in the works: smaller clubs may be the wages of a professional footballer may have to pay, but the recruitment of top players is made impossible by the unrealistically high transfer fees.

And let financial clout now just the factor that through the years has become much more important to sporting results to be able to achieve. Where there used to be a better distribution of spelerstalent was, there is, in the last decades more and more talk of a huge talentconcentratie at the top clubs.


‘A salarisplafond would be good to certain excesses of the transfer system to tackle.’

A few exceptions aside, play in this phenomenon, both at national and at European level. In several countries it is often the same clubs that champion. Also, the Champions League is dominated by a limited number of European top clubs. Fortunately, there is still occasionally an occasional outlier that does well. Think, for example, but to Leicester City FC, that is, in 2016, the English Premier League won. Also, AS Monaco, last season’s semi-finals of the Champions League was reached to fit in the row, ‘over’.

Legally questionable provisions in the transferreglement

In addition, some appear to be provisions of the transferreglement manifestly in conflict with higher norms. National courts have already various provisions of the transferreglement found to be incompatible with the free movement of workers (namely, the provisions on the compensation for training and the joint and several liability of the prospective employer in a unilateral breach of contract by a player). Despite the infringements fits the FIFA its rules yet.

Also the by the FIFA issued a ban on Third y Ownership (TPO) is questionable in the light of European law. Close to home find also illegal practices relating to the compensation for training and the transfer of (youth)players. In addition to handling some of the clubs in an aggressive recruitment policy on minors in which they are morally reprehensible and legally illegal acts, do not fear.

Fundamental reorientation takes courage

Football seems to benefit from a fundamental reorientation. There would be more of an eye for a better vrijheidsregeling for players. Also a better distribution of the spelerstalent and more transparency in the transition of players are desirable.


The player who the system wants to tackle, wait for a lengthy legal battle. Just ask Jean-Marc Bosman.

America had used a system that was similar to the European credit transfer system, in which clubs far-reaching property rights had on players. Almost all theoretical and empirical studies show that the abolition of the transfer system the American professional sports. It is likely that the lifting of the FIFA transfer system, similar effects would have.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin held recently a plea for a new transfer system. Although this is a step in the right direction would be, it seems unlikely that this measure will come as he is against the interests of the established order.

Also Ceferin geponeerde salarisplafond there will probably not come quickly. However, it would be a salarisplafond like inkomstenherverdeling between clubs is all good to certain excesses of the transfer system to tackle.

If the transfer system in its current form, is incompatible with European law, of course, the question of why it has not yet been challenged before a court.

The player who the system wants to tackle, wait for a lengthy legal battle. Just ask Jean-Marc Bosman. Although he is finally equal got, signed Bosman, however, his death sentence to the judge to withdraw. By the time he got to court his freedom obtained, was his career over. In addition, it is also undeniable that the current system sometimes also in the card play of players and their agents.

Clubs who ask themselves questions when the transfer rules are also hard hit. Testimony to this is the German SV Wilhelmshaven, financial and sporting sanctions was obligatory degradation, because the FIFA seek compensation in question.

The master’s thesis about this issue acts, was awarded with the Flemish dissertation Award. Read them here.

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