Football: Blatter revives bid to restrict foreign players

Football: Blatter revives bid to restrict foreign players

Tuesday, April 29, 2014 12:09 pm

FIFA president Sepp Blatter wants to revive his much-debated ‘6+5’ proposal that would force football clubs to select six players from their home country in a starting XI.

Blatter’s plan won backing from the FIFA Congress in 2008 but could not be brought into operation as it failed to comply with European Union laws on freedom of movement, UK-based body SportsBusiness reports.

Nevertheless, the long-serving chief of world football’s governing body said the Institute for European Affairs (INEA) has suggested that a quota agreement along similar lines could be workable – in his opinion forging clear benefits for both clubs and their respective national teams.

“Unfortunately, the idea (6+5) floundered on EU Employment Law – the right to work in the country of choice and individual freedom of movement,” Blatter said in his column in FIFA’s weekly magazine.

Sepp Blatter, left with Pope Francis last November

Sepp Blatter, left with Pope Francis last November

“However, we have not heard the last word on this subject. An Institute for European Affairs expert opinion concludes that a ‘quota agreement’ along the lines of the 6+5 rule is compatible with the law.

“It is therefore not too late to seriously revisit this idea.

“This is a matter of interest to the entire global football family. Africa, whose nationals are plying their trade in different parts of the world, especially Europe, could find itself in an awkward position because the proposal if approved by countries will limit the number of non-nationals fielded in a match”.

Africa is home to many players who have plied or are plying their trade in Europe. Among them, Abedi Pele, George Weah, Nwankwo Kanu, Jay Jay Okocha, Samuel Eto’o, Yaya Toure, Didier Drogba, Victor Wanyama and Michael Essien, and many others.

Blatter continued: “It would improve the balance between club and national team football, preserve the clubs’ national identity and increase the incentive for clubs to make use of more of their own youth products.

“A glance at the leading leagues in Europe leaves no room for misinterpretation: foreign professionals form the majority in England (60.4 per cent) and Italy (54.1 per cent), and that makes life hard for home-grown players,” he said.

“Naturally, the idea that competition is good for business also applies to football. But it has gone too far when up-and-coming young hopefuls no longer have a chance to prove themselves because foreign employees take their places in the team,” said the FIFA President.

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