Tevez's Contract - No Parallel With The Bosman Case
By Stephen Hornsby
So an MEP has stated that Tevez's contract with a company can be overridden by European law and some commentators have suggested that a parallel can be drawn with the Bosman case.
It is very unlikely that European law could have any such effect or that the authorities in Brussels could somehow wave a magic wand and allow Tevez to sign to Manchester United without the club having to pay the agreed fee for exercising that option.
Bosman had reached the end of his contract with a club who retained his registration and stopped him from working unless a fee was paid. Tevez's loan agreement will shortly come to an end but, in marked contrast, he will be free to join a club and carry on his career if he agrees with the company who owns the rights to his registration. Tevez is free in a way that Bosman never was.
Tevez could try to tear up his contract with his agent, but it was probably concluded under the law applicable in South America where such contracts are valid. The courts in Europe would be most likely to enforce the contract – by injunction if necessary – against someone trying to interfere, provided that Tevez received value from his contract, was separately advised when he entered into it and was an adult when he signed it.
The only way for Tevez to escape would be to argue that the contract should not be enforced because it amounted to slavery or was in restraint of trade or competition law. George Michael tried this approach in his case against Sony who was his employer a few years back, and was unsuccessful – essentially because he chose to enter the gilded cage in return for a good consideration.
Football may have a rule against third party ownership but this does not mean that such agreements are legally invalid. Bosman showed that football rules can be unenforceable under the law of the land. Its lesson is that the law of the land ‘trumps’ football laws. That is the only relevance of the case to the Tevez situation. Brussels is certainly not going to do anything to change this; in the time available, it is ‘the courts or nothing’, with ‘nothing’ being the most likely outcome. That will see Tevez moving to another club if Manchester United don’t want to stump up the fee.
© Davenport Lyons 2009. All rights reserved.
This document reflects the law and practice as at May 2009. It is general in nature, and does not purport in any way to be comprehensive or a substitute for specialist legal advice in individual circumstances.