Football’s world governing body has voted in favour of the ’six-plus-five rule’, which would put a limit on the number of foreign players each team could field.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter has said he hopes the controversial rule will be in place by the 2012/13 season.
His vision appears to be a step closer following the overwhelming backing at FIFA’s annual congress in Sydney, Australia.
The rule would limit every team to only five foreign players in their starting XI.
The FIFA boss has pointed to the Premier League’s dominance in this season’s Champions League as example of why his organisation must implement the idea, despite legal concerns from the European Union.
Stressing FIFA would proceed “within the limits of the law”, Blatter said this week: “It’s 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 the others are just there to not be relegated.
“As (Newcastle manager) Kevin Keegan recently said: ’I can only start my season to fight to be fifth or sixth or seventh. It is impossible for me to go into the final four’.
“At the end of the Champions League in Europe you have in the quarter-finals four teams of the same association; in the semi-finals three of these teams.
“Then in the final you are surprised that you have two teams of the same association?
“We want to bring some remedies and this is the six-plus-five rule’s objective.”
Despite FIFA backing the plan, the European Union has already indicated it would contravene European laws.
“We are giving the red card to the 6-plus-5 rule,” Europe’s commissioner for equal opportunities, Vladimir Spidla, said on Wednesday.
FIFA’s controversial proposal is different from a “home-grown players” rule proposed by UEFA, European football’s governing body.
UEFA 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 and 21.
The Commission has approved the UEFA arrangement because, says Brussels, it contains no player conditions based on nationality.
Spidla said: “Compared with the intentions announced by FIFA to impose the so-called ’6-plus-5 rule’, which is directly discriminatory and therefore incompatible with the EU law, the ”home-grown players“ rule proposed by UEFA seems to me to be proportionate and to comply with the principle of free movement of workers.”