(CN) – The European Union Court of Justice followed an adviser’s opinion in ruling that soccer clubs can recover money if a young trainee signs on with another team.
Although compensation from so-called “club-jumpers” restricts the free movement of players, it is justified by the need to recruit and train up-and-coming players, especially “in view of the considerable social importance of sporting activities and in particular football in the European Union,” the court ruled. (Soccer is known as football virtually everywhere outside the United States.)
The case centered around Olivier Bernard, who trained with French Olympique Lyonnais for three seasons before defecting to Great Britain’s Newcastle United Football Club. Olympique Lyonnais sued for about $73,000, which would have been Bernard’s first-year salary.
The Court of Justice found that the Professional Football Charter is a collective national agreement under European Union law. The Luxembourg-based court concluded that although compensation in such cases may be justified, the French scheme unfairly charges damages instead of seeking compensation for lost training costs.