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Parliamentary questions
21 April 2005
Answer given by Mr Spidla on behalf of the Commission

Community rules on the free movement of workers apply to sportspersons, as it was confirmed by the Court of Justice in particular in its Bosman ruling.

The Court held in its judgment inter alia, that Article 39 of the EC Treaty (ex-Article 48) precludes rules which limit the number of professional players from other Member States who could play in football competitions as well as that Article 39(ex Article 48 of the EC Treaty) applies to rules laid down by sporting associations such as (URBSFA, FIFA or UEFA)(1), which determine the terms on which professional sportsmen can engage in gainful employment. In fact, as Article 39 of the EC Treaty is a fundamental principle of the EC Treaty, ‘provisions which preclude or deter a national of a Member State from leaving his country of origin in order to exercise his right to freedom of movement therefore constitute an obstacle to that freedom even if they apply without regard to the nationality of the workers concerned’.

In this context, the Maltese rules of Malta Football Association, which impose a requirement that a minimum of eight ‘home-grown’ players, must be playing on the field at any point in time during a football match, seem to be in contradiction with Community law as interpreted by the Court of Justice in Bosman and the subsequent judgments and in particular Article 39 of the EC Treaty. In fact there is a risk of indirect discrimination based on nationality, since more players trained in the country would have the nationality of this country than players coming from another Member State who would be penalised as far as their right to free movement is concerned and their equal access to a professional club.

The Commission will make inquiries with the Maltese authorities and will consequently inform in due course the Honourable Member of the outcome of these inquiries. These enquiries will, in particular, aim at checking whether the Maltese State exercises in any way control, or supervision of, the Maltese federation.

Furthermore, it should be noted that as Article 39EC is a provision of direct effect + consequently it is up to any potential complainant to go before the competent national court to ensure that (s)he can enjoy the benefit of the rights guaranteed by Article 39 EC.

(1)Royal Belgian Football Association ; International Federation of the Football Association ; Union of European Football Associations

OJ C 299, 08/12/2006
Last updated: 12 June 2006Legal notice