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Seminar report
"The new European labour market"

Bosman club, the next step?
The Portuguese professor Leal Amado has raised the possibillity of clubs of having the same freedom in the future as the players have after the Bosman ruling, even being able to take part in the competitions of other countries.

The opening presentation of the ULEB professional sports conference was about the problems of the new labour market, which is rapidly being defined as a result of the Bosman ruling and of the attempt of organizations like UEFA or FIFA to counteract the European Commission`s position.

Professor Leal Amado`s paper got the attention of the attendants with a new point of view about the effects of the Bosman ruling. For Leal, this ruling, which has established a Community market for the worker-athlete, is valid from legal point of view. However, this fact contrasts with the situation of the product market (the competitions), which is still nationwide. Leal gave the example of the Portuguese clubs, which have salary costs of a European level but income of a national level. "The athletes have freedom of movement, but the clubs can't take part in the competitions of other countries, because they function on a national scale, even in the structure of the continental competitions. Until now, the point of view of the authorities is that the players are workers just like any other workers, and the clubs are companies, but different from other companies". Leal Amado wondered about the evolution of the Community philosophy in this way. If the clubs continue to be considered normal companies, mobility will be an implied consequence, and it will lead to the end of the concept of purely nationwide competitions. If they are not considered as such, then the EC should not consider the athletes as "normal" workers.

The director of the Sports Unit of the European Commission, Jaume Andreu, summed up this organization's work in two basic points: the removal of the economic compensations for a player`s transfer when the contract has finished, and the removal of the limitations of players based on nationality. Andreu regretted that the topic of the compensations for the transfers of players with contracts still in effect had not been studied in much depth, although he announced that conversations have been initiated with the main organizations involved. Andreu also talked about the unlimited autonomy of the sports federations in establishing rules and forecasted a greater intervention of ordinary courts in sports-related matters.

The Italian professor Massimo Coccia referred to the imbalance caused by the salaries, which make up 70% of team budgets, and suggested the creation of a European-wide communal agreement as the only way of having feasible leagues in professional sports in Europe. Coccia also put under question the thesis of the EC that the compensations for the transfer of an athlete developed in a club should only be the cost of his training. He compared it with the research of the companies on new products, where the profits of the successful products cover the cost of other unsuccessful products. In his opinion, the compensations of the transfers should also cover the cost of the global training of all their athletes.

Finally, Juan José Seoane, Tau Cerámica General Manager, insisted on the tensions between the traditional, amateur sports and professional sports, caused by the attitudes of the different organizations, which do not recognize the clubs as companies that need autonomy for carrying out their activities. Seoane talked about the current situation, in which the salaries account for 70% of the income: "Without profit there is no future, because the patrons are not going to exist forever". Seoane forecast that "Malaja ruling has been limited to France for political reasons, but it will spread all over Europe and some years later there will be total contractual freedom. The athletes have acheived autonomy; but the structures still have not".


Conference [ Principal | The New European Labour Market ]


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