Jean-Marc Bosman - The Player Who Changed Football


Jean-Marc Bosman is not remembered for his playing skills or for the success he achieved as a footballer. He is remembered for turning the world of football upside down. 20 years ago Bosman won a European Court of Justice decision that allowed professional footballers to change teams without clubs paying a transfer fee. It freed players from the slavery of their clubs.

In 1990 Jean-Marc Bosman wanted to leave his Belgian club Liege because they offered him less money for a new contract. Dunkerque, just across the border to France wanted him  but couldn't pay the transfer sum that Liege demanded. After being suspended by the Belgian football league, Bosman went to court to fight for his right to work anywhere he wanted in the EU. In the five years that passed until the decision was made, Bosman spent  more  time in court than on the football pitch.

The Bosman ruling affected smaller teams most.  Teams that had young talented players of their own, like Ajax Amsterdam, saw them leaving for top clubs in other European leagues. After the court ruling professional footballers could play anywhere they wanted within Europe. A team could employ as many foreign players as they wanted to.



The ruling did not help Jean-Marc Bosman, the footballer who wanted to transfer to the French league. Today , 20 years later, Bosman is unemployed and lives below the poverty line . But footballers around the world have the freedom to play where they want thanks to Jean-Marc Bosman.



Related Topics




  • achieve = to get or reach something by working hard for it
  • affect = influence , to have an impact on
  • contract = written agreement between two people or groups
  • decision = what you decide after discussing it for some time
  • demand = want to have
  • employ = to pay someone to work for you
  • European Court of Justice   = court of law for the European Union with its headquarters in Luxembourg
  • football pitch = green sports field, where you play football
  • foreign = from another country
  • freedom = liberty
  • offer = willing to give
  • poverty line = income below which a person is thought to be very poor
  • ruling = decision
  • skills = talents, abilities
  • slavery = here: not free to go where you want to
  • success = when you get or achieve what you wanted to
  • suspend = here: not allowed to play
  • transfer fee = money that one football club has to pay another for the transfer of a player
  • unemployed = without a job
  • upside down = here: completely different from what it was  before