Who is Jean-Marc Bosman?

THE PLAYER; Mark Burton reports on a midfielder who went on the attack
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The Independent Online
Jean-Marc Bosman, who failed to fulfil the initial promise he showed as a midfielder and captain of the Belgian youth side, is an unlikely revolutionary. He is still every inch the footballer with his wiry frame, close-cropped hair and racing green BMW convertible.

It was disgust at his treatment by FC Liege five years ago that led him down the legal path, ending, possibly, with administrators, clubs and players facing a whole new ball game. Quite an achievement for a player who was not considered aggressive enough.

In 1990 Bosman, who had been bought by Liege for pounds 66,000 two years earlier but who had fallen out of favour at the Belgian club, thought he would move across the border into France at the end of his contract and play for Dunkirk.

Using Belgium's player-evaluation system Liege set a fee of about pounds 500,000 on him and insisted that the French team pay in full up front. When they refused, Liege pulled out of the deal, and cut Bosman's wages by 75 per cent to pounds 500 per month.

Desperate to get away and feeling he had effectively been blacklisted, Bosman went to law. A Belgian court ruled in his favour, too late for the Dunkirk deal to be resurrected, but his determination to win damages carried the case through to the European Court.

Bosman has played since, but only for lowly clubs. Last season he turned out for a Belgian Fourth Division side. He has yet to decide whether he will play this season, and sees his future being outside football, not surprising considering his view of club owners. "They are people without scruple," he said. "They have no respect for the rights of others and are basically incompetent."

Despite his BMW, Bosman's battle has left him bankrupt - although he is claiming compensation - broken up his marriage and left him far more famous off the pitch than for anything he ever achieved on it. No wonder yesterday he hardly smiled.