Restrictions on foreign playersplaying for European Union (EU) clubs have come to an end with the decision by France to endorse the Cotonou agreement allowing people from African and the Caribbean to work freely across Europe.

“The Cotonou agreement, signed by the European Union with 77 states from Africa, the Pacific and the Caribbean, is applicable to sport as it includes the same clause as in the Malaja case, which states that you cannot ban workers from working in the EU on nationality grounds,” lawyer Michel Pautot said on Friday.

The agreement between EU members and the 77 countries was signed in March 2000 in Cotonou, the capital of the West African country of Benin.

The Malaja case, which backed a Polish basketball player’s right to playfor a French club, extended the ruling to citizens from 24 Eastern Europe countries.

“We’re heading towards a global opening of frontiers in the world of sport,” added Pautot.

Lilia Malaja is a Polish basketball player who wanted to play for a French club. She gained a legal victory last December when the French Council of State upheld her right as a Polish citizen to seek work in France.

This the most significant development in the world of sporting contracts since the landmark Bosman Ruling in December 1995, which instigated the principle that all players from the EU would be allowed to sign for any EU club.