The Olivier Bernard Case: How, if at all, to Fix Compensation for Training Young Players?

  • Stephen Weatherill
Part of the ASSER International Sports Law Series book series (ASSER)


The list of sports-related judgments in EU law was extended in March 2010. The decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU – as it has been known since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty) in Olympique Lyonnais v Olivier Bernard and Newcastle United deals with payment of compensation in circumstances where a club that has invested in training young players finds that an emerging star wishes to try his luck elsewhere. Against the background of the EU Treaty provisions governing free movement of workers the Court confirms that such restrictions on player mobility may be compatible with EU law – but the particular French rules challenged by Bernard are not. The judgment therefore accepts that sport is ‘special’, for such arrangements for compensating training would not be found in normal industries, while it uses EU law to confine the space allowed to sporting bodies in shaping their preferred system. But plenty of open questions bedevil identification of precisely what measure of compensation is allowed under EU law, and there may yet emerge frictions between the demands of EU law and the international transfer system painstakingly renovated by football’s governing bodies in recent years. The judgment in Bernard is also notable as the first occasion on which the Court has made reference to the new provisions on sport introduced by the Treaty of Lisbon with effect from 1 December 2009. The judgment suggests that Lisbon will not be used by the Court as a basis to adjust its long-standing approach to the subjection of sport to the legal rules of the internal market.


Professional Sport Lisbon Treaty Young Player Educational Function Contractual Stability 
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Copyright information

© T.M.C. ASSER PRESS, The Hague, The Netherlands, and the authors 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Somerville CollegeOxfordUK

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