chapter  3
‘THEY’RE PLAYING R SONG’: BOSMAN AND BEYOND
Pages 30

The previous chapter illustrated how domestic football bodies spent much of the first hundred years of their existence trying to avoid compliance with the law of the land, as it applied to the retain-and-transfer system. Notwithstanding the changes precipitated by Eastham (1963) in England, the transfer system was unlawful under European law, but UEFA attempted to turn back the tide rather than deal with the harsh reality. The cataclysmic effects of the European Court of Justice’s (ECJ’s) ruling in Belgian FA v Bosman (1996) could have been avoided but for UEFA’s intransigence. That the fundamental principles of European Community (EC) (now European Union (EU)) law were incompatible with both the transfer system and the provisions on foreign players was evident long before Bosman. The ‘Superstate’ nature of the EC meant that the rules of UEFA were not immune to EU law, even though UEFA is based in Switzerland, which is not a member of the EC.