Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Abdelmajid Oulmers Case

The Abdelmajid Oulmers Case - A New, More Terrible Bosman!?

Ozren Podnar reports...

The Bosman ruling has hurt most clubs from most countries.

The abolition of transfer fees at the end of players' contracts is not the biggest problem, though.

True, now the club losing a player cannot charge a formation fee to the club he is going to, unless the contract is terminated before its expiry date. This has put far more negotiating power in the hands of the players and their agents. Players can now simply blackmail the clubs by saying: either you let me go for a lower price, or I'll sit out the contract and leave free of charge.

A bigger problem was the EU-imposed elimination of players' quotas related to their nationality. Most leagues around the world have been devastated by this ruling, which accidentally has nothing at all to do with Jean-Marc Bosman and his original claim for a free transfer from Liege to Dunkerque.

The ruling enabled wealthy club owners to drain the soccer resources from poorer nations, virtually sucking the life out of them. At the same time, it has wiped out national, let alone regional or local identities of teams in big footballing nations.

While Arsenal can now field a non-British eleven consisting of foreign internationals, clubs from Rumania, Hungary, Serbia, Croatia, Slovakia, Ukraine or Sweden cannot dream of winning another European cup competition as they used to in the good old days of strict UEFA/FIFA/national FA-controlled soccer.

On a less dramatic note, a new, more well-to-do and less passionate breed of supporter has largely superseded the former, more committed fans who have dropped out since their teams lost their local flavour.

How the EU hurts the many to protect the greedy few

EU-sponsored liberalism has made more soccer fans around the world more unhappy than happy and FIFA's chairman Sepp Blatter rightly speaks of EU imperialism changing the face of soccer for the worse.

But, there is a new, even more terrible "Bosman" in the pipelines. One that will not hurt clubs (any more than they have already been hurt) but national soccer associations.

The new ruling will be called the "Oulmers ruling", after the Moroccan Abdelmajid Oulmers. The ruling will benefit wealthy (and greedy) clubs with the most internationals, and will kill the national teams of poorer nations, whose players play for - you've guessed it - the wealthy clubs!

Oulmers's Belgian (again!) club Sporting Charleroi has sued FIFA because it ruled that the Moroccan had to play for his country last year against Burkina Faso.

Oulmers then tore his ligaments and spent seven months out of action. Charleroi consider themselves robbed and seeks compensation from FIFA. The trial will start in a Belgian civil court, but will certainly end up at the European Court of Justice, as the Bosman's case did.

The rich clubs, the G-14, have put their weight behind Charleroi, well, because they lose so many international players every time their countries play a game. And why on earth do they have so many foreign players in the first place? Well, the European Union enabled them to.

The future Oulmers ruling will additionally empower a small group of clubs, several dozen of them, against everybody else - FIFA, UEFA, national soccer associations and hundreds of millions of fans around the world.

Let us see how.

Farewell to national teams

The EU will allow clubs to seek compensation from a national association (not FIFA or UEFA) for any player injured while on international duty, perhaps even for any player released to play for their national team.

If Milan's Shevchenko gets injured while playing for Ukraine, the Ukrainian FA will have to pay damages to Milan, provided it has enough money.

Since the poorer FAs will fear incurring debts which they will not be able to settle, they will refrain from calling up their players for friendlies, and who knows, maybe even for competitive games.

As a consequence, the national teams of less fortunate countries will lose their top players, who - obviously - ply their trade in the richest clubs in England, Italy, Spain, Germany, France, and a couple of clubs from Greece, Holland, Portugal and Scotland.

All in all, some 20-30 clubs will benefit from the Oulmers ruling, while legions of fans in Africa, South America, Asia and a large part of Europe will be robbed of the chance to see their national team's stars.

The law protects capital, we understand that, but there is no law or court that protects fan's feelings.

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