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EU to block Blatter's player quota plans- 7 Nov 2007 18:45:00

The European Union will block any move made by FIFA president Sepp Blatter to reduce the number of foreign players plying their trade in European football Leagues.

Blatter has been pushing forward with proposals through the EU to adopt a number of processes to ‘stop the overwhelming presence of non-national players in club leagues’ in its new Reform Treaty.

However, any quota placed on clubs to ensure they employ a minimum number of 'home-grown' players will be countered by a mandate by the EU’s executive branch – the European Commission - that provided these players are permitted to work in the European Union, their nationality is irrelevant.

The EC has directly commented on Blatter’s proposals, stating that imposing quotas on EU nationals is ‘direct discrimination’.
Blatter has claimed that football was set to gain the power to police its own members, meaning FIFA would be able to have a say in how many foreign players are allowed at any one club.

The EC confirmed that in the Treaty, which is set to be signed in December, freedom of movement legislation would not be altered and that no exceptions are to be granted to sports federations.

The only restrictions enforceable on clubs, therefore, are those already in place under current UEFA guidelines, which state that in UEFA club competitions every squad must contain six ‘locally trained players’ or have their list of 25 players reduced accordingly.

Next season each club must name eight players who have been locally trained.

Commented an EU spokesperson: ‘Quotas on EU national players are direct discrimination. Whether you are a goalkeeper or a factory worker - as long as you receive a salary - you are a worker.

‘Therefore, you have the right to move and work freely within the European Union and this right must be granted also to football players. However, the Commission is in constant dialogue with Fifa, Uefa and other relevant sports organisations and recognises that there is an issue about home grown players.

‘The Commission is examining if it could be justified for clubs to hire a certain quota of players whom they have trained from a very young age. As this concerns the investment of clubs in players irrespective of their nationality, there would be no direct discrimination.’

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