It was a football revolution: professionals were suddenly allowed to switch for free after their contract ended. Plaintiff Jean-Marc Bosman later lost his position in life: alcohol, depression, divorce. Today he lives on the brink of poverty and regrets his complaint.

Jean-Marc Bosman has long been used to the procedure. As always on the round of anniversaries, there is a bit of buzz – before things quickly get quiet about the man who revolutionized professional football a quarter of a century ago. Then the now 56-year-old returns to his reality, which has nothing to do with the life of a hero. Lonely, bitter and on the brink of poverty, Bosman lives his life in the Liege suburb of Awans.

“I would have preferred a career like Pele or Franz Beckenbauer,” says Bosman, who lives on benefits and a monthly union allowance: “But I fought a social battle. stars, no one knows the man by that name. “Jean-Marc Bosman at a photo shoot five years ago: After the verdict in 1995, things went downhill for him. (Source: VI images / image images)

Hardly anyone remembers the player Bosman

In fact, hardly anyone remembers the 25 matches that Bosman played in the shirt of RFC Liège. Or the only goal that the Belgian scored for his club in the competition. Bosman became known for his historical success in court. The ruling of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) of December 15, 1995 turned Bosman’s life upside down – and shook professional football to its foundations.

The day marks a turning point in the history of modern football. The ECJ ruling sealed the end of transfer fees after contracts expired and the restrictions on foreigners in place until then. The Luxembourg jurors turned the balance of power upside down almost overnight in favor of the players.

“The Bundesliga was not prepared for the verdict. 16 or 17 of the 18 managers misjudged the situation. It was only after two years that they were all adjusted,” recalls Bundesliga veteran Heribert Bruchhagen: “But it was of course right that the players were given free access to work. Common sense leaves no doubt that there was no alternative. “

Rummenigge: “worst disaster” for club football

The momentous decision on the lawsuit was taken by Bosman in 1990 after the RFC cut Liège’s salary and subsequently denied him permission to move. A transfer to the French second division failed due to the club’s excessive transfer demand. Bosman responded and successfully sued by all authorities for five years.

Bayern boss Karl-Heinz Rummenigge once described the verdict as “the worst disaster club football has ever experienced”. Since that day, in addition to absolute superstars, even mediocre players and their advisers have put millions and millions in their own pockets. In the past the clubs used to transfer the money to each other during transfers, nowadays the money mainly goes from the club to the player.

Bosman: divorces, alcohol, depression

Only Bosman, the initiator of the change, looked into the tube. His life went off course – he wasted fees, divorces, alcohol problems and depression. “Everyone benefits from me. From my fight. Only me, I have none of it,” says the player whose career effectively ended after 1995: “As if I had given someone the right lottery numbers, but then I don’t share in the winnings. “

Bosman broke this insight. And that’s why he has only one bitter conclusion: “I wouldn’t go to court anymore.”

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