Have you ever wondered why Maltese football teams have typically been almost exclusively made up of Maltese people? Or why we don’t have many Maltese people playing for international teams as full-time footballers? The answer lies in two words: Bosman Ruling
The Bosman Ruling is a decision from a case in the European Court of Justice which nowadays allows for footballers to move freely from one club to another within the EU after the contract with their current club expires. As this is part of EU law, it should naturally mean that it should be implemented in each Member State.
Except one, until June of last year.
Yes, Malta was the exception.
What this means is that before last June, even if a Maltese player’s contract with their football club expired, their new club would still be liable to a transfer fee (a sum paid to the player’s previous club). As a result, it hindered various Maltese players from going to play internationally as full-time football athletes. It was unfair considering other Europeans could meanwhile move freely from one club to another among countries, so the Maltese were at a disadvantage and were not on a level playing field. It was also a violation of Article 45 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, as one of the 4 freedoms of the EU is the free movement of persons within Member States.
The EU has long pushed for the Malta Football Association (MFA) to abolish the transfer fee, and it finally happened 25 years later on June 8th 2020. This is a huge accomplishment which could finally mean more Maltese footballers making headlines in European football. Just look at Haley Bugeja, already making a name for herself with Sassuolo. Apart from that, it would open the doorway for football as a full-time career for Maltese athletes. As a plus, more experience for nationals could ultimately mean an improvement in the level of the national football team and, hopefully, better performances in international competitions.