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Edited by John Goddard and Peter Sloane
Chapter 18: French professional football: how much different?
France, in common with other leading European football nations, was affected by two significant economic shocks in the 1990s. One was the globalisation of the labour market for football players which occurred after the Bosman case in 1995; the other was a substantial change in the format and financial endowment of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) club competitions, accelerated by the failed attempt by Media-Partners in 1999 to create a European Super-League. How has French professional football adjusted to this double shock since 2000? Did French football adjust better or worse than the other major European leagues to the changing financial realities of professional football at the highest level? Many French sports analysts are inclined to cite the French Ligue 1 (FL1) as the best-managed football league in Europe. It is suggested that the French exception copes better than others with football’s financial pressures. This exception has been praised as a virtuous example for other European major football leagues such as the English Premier League (EPL), Italian Lega Calcio (ILC), Spanish Liga de Futbol (SLF) and German Bundesliga (GBL). Some French official reports went as far as to recommend making a rule out of this exception by extending it to all leagues under UEFA’s jurisdiction (Collin, 2004; Denis, 2003). Another report more modestly questions the preconditions for French football clubs to become both more competitive on the pitch, and economically sound (Besson, 2008).
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