SBD/Issue 174/Leagues & Governing Bodies

FIFA Congress Supports Limit On Foreign Player Allotment

FIFA Congress Votes In Favor Of Blatter's Plan
To Limit Number Of Foreign Players On Team
FIFA Friday at its annual congress in Sydney, Australia, voted "in favour of the 'six-plus-five' rule, which would put a limit on the number of foreign players" each club could field, according to the LONDON TIMES. FIFA President Sepp Blatter said that he "hopes the controversial rule will be in place by the 2012-13 season." Blatter's plan, which would limit every club to only five foreign players in the starting lineup, "appears to be a step closer following the overwhelming backing" at the FIFA congress. Blatter has pointed to the English Premier League's (EPL) "dominance in this season's Champions League," in which it accounted for three of the four semifinal teams, as an "example of why his organisation must implement the idea, despite legal concerns" from the European Union (EU). Blatter said the purpose of the rule is to "make sure that there is better balance in the competitions and not only three or four teams in a league of 18 or 20 are fighting to be the champion and all others are just there to not be relegated." But despite FIFA's backing, the EU has "already indicated it would contravene European laws." FIFA's proposal is different from UEFA's "home-grown players" rule, which "defines home-grown players as team members who, regardless of age or nationality, have been trained by their club or by another club in the national association for at least three years between the ages" of 15-21 (TIMESONLINE.co.uk, 5/30). In Manchester, Les Roopanarine writes the plan passed by a 155-5 vote, with 40 abstentions. Blatter said the application of the plan "would start only at the end of 2010 and we would start progressively with four, five and six" (GUARDIAN.co.uk, 5/30). Blatter next week will meet with European Parliament Chair Hans-Gert Poettering to "get his views on the issue" (TELEGRAPH.co.uk, 5/30).

FACING OPPOSITION: Roopanarine writes Blatter is "likely to encounter stiff resistance from the European Commission, who have denounced the idea -- which would risk falling foul of regulations on free movement of labour and non-discrimination -- as illegal and discriminatory" (GUARDIAN.co.uk, 5/30). In London, Geoff Meade wrote FIFA's plan has been "condemned as illegal" by the European Commission. EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs & Equal Opportunities Vladimir Spidla: "We are giving a red card to the 6 + 5 rule" (London INDEPENDENT, 5/29).

DRUG TESTING: In London, Vicki Hodges reports FIFA at the congress also "formally accepted the revised [WADA] drug code." FIFA in the past had "resisted WADA's blanket two-year ban for first-time doping offences, saying that the length of any suspension should take into account individual cases" (TELEGRAPH.co.uk, 5/30).

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