Thursday, March 23, 2006

Soriano, the Nationals, and European soccer: Bosman ruling for America?





Alfonso Soriano has agreed to play outfield for Washington. (Rather than persist as one of the less-spectacular-fielding second basemen around: he regularly has a FP around 970, and his career range factor is 4.74.) The Washington Post summarized some issues in employment law that would have been matters of first impression had Soriano not given in. Baseball is one of the most confusing areas of sports law around, with tons of exemptions from anti-trust and labor statutes; see, e.g., Federal Base Ball Club of Baltimore v. National League of Professional Base Ball Clubs, 259 U.S. 200 (1922). Many speculate that Soriano gave in to preserve his value once he reaches free agency. Most Americans almost certainly do not realize that European soccer covered some of this ground about ten years ago in the Bosman ruling. Wikipedia has a quick description; some more of the EU labor law issues are discussed here.

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