Ruling could curb cradle snatching

LUXEMBOURG - Football clubs that train young players only to see them sign their first professional contract with another European Union club can now claim compensation, European judges ruled this week.

LUXEMBOURG - Football clubs that train young players only to see them sign their first professional contract with another European Union club can now claim compensation, European judges ruled this week.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ's) verdict came in a case involving French player Olivier Bernard, who joined English club Newcastle in 1997 at the end of a three-year training contract with French side Lyon.

The ECJ found that the payment of compensation to a training club was justified but should be "determined by taking account of the costs borne by the clubs in training both future professional players and those who will never play professionally".

At the time, French rules required trainee players to sign their first professional contract with the club that trained them.

But Bernard signed with Newcastle, leading Lyon to take legal action against the player and the club, demanding ß53000 (R536000) in damages.

The French justice system found in Lyon's favour but halved the sum awarded. However, the player and Newcastle appealed, and the French appeal court asked the ECJ whether requiring a trainee to pay damages if he signs for a club in another European country breached EU law.

The ECJ's finding on Tuesday will allow Lyon to seek compensation from Newcastle. - Sapa-AFP

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