The UNFP and the battle against ‘lofting’

January 12, 2024

The UNFP has waged a battle against ‘lofting’ in recent years to defend the interests of professional football players.

 But what exactly is ‘lofting’, and what are the main issues involved?

Factual background

Practice of ‘lofting ’:

  • A player is dropped from the main squad and pushed to train/play alone or in a separate group. This situation pressures the player to either leave or sign a new employment contract with the club.
  • Transfer system link: since the Bosman ruling, there is only a transfer fee if the player is still under contract with the club.

Lofting: example

French football star Kylian Mbappé ‘lofted’ for 3 weeks during the summer break because he refused to exercise the option for a contract extension.

UNFP claim

The Union Nationale des Footballeurs Professionnels (‘UNFP’) is a trade union that aims to protect the interests of professional football players in France. UNFP has filed a claim on behalf of French professional football players against X for extortion and harassment and complicity with those legal infringements relating to the practice of ‘lofting ’.

Main issues

Are the means that clubs use to obtain the players ’ (forced) consent valid:

  • Under applicable labour law (a (unilateral) change of essential employment conditions); or
  • Under criminal law (extortion & harassment); or
  • Under EU law (the free movement of workers)?

The link with legality of transfer system as a whole: awaiting the outcome of the Diarra case.