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EU closes case against Luxembourg over footballers' nationality

03/06/2010

The European Commission has on June 3 2010 closed legal proceedings against Luxembourg over quotas for foreign footballers.
The Commission took legal action because of limits on the number of foreigners allowed to play for Luxembourgish clubs, contrary to EU rules on free movement of workers. The case was successfully concluded following changes to the rules applied.

The Commission began infringement proceedings against Luxembourg in July 2004 because of rules limiting the number of foreign footballers playing for clubs in the Luxembourg Football Federation. These rules required that at least seven players at the start of a match should have Luxembourg nationality or have obtained their first licence to play in Luxembourg. A new rule was later introduced that limited to four the number of players who had been transferred in any one season. The Commission considered that these rules could be discriminatory on the basis of nationality, representing a barrier to free movement of workers.
Following discussions with the Luxembourg authorities and changes to the statute of the Luxembourg Football Federation, the Commission is now satisfied that the Luxembourgish rules do not constitute discrimination based on nationality. The changes focused on

  • Removing the obligation to have Luxembourg nationality;
  • On the rule relating to the first licence, statistics provided by the Luxembourg authorities showed that, in practice, this rule does not preclude employment of foreign players and therefore does not constitute any discrimination against EU nationals.

In addition, in terms of the rules relating to transfers, the Luxembourg authorities explained that this rule is temporary in nature since the status of 'transferred player' is only valid for the current year. Statistics also show that, on average, the number of players transferred is less than four per season. Based on this information, the Commission concluded that this provision is also compatible with EU law.

The current rules do not represent, in the Commission's view, discrimination on grounds of nationality.