FIFA’s ‘six-plus-five rule’ against EU law

FIFA’s ‘six-plus-five rule’ would be incompatible with continental law, the European Union reiterated yesterday.

The rule would limit the number of foreign players in each club’s starting line-up to five and president Sepp Blatter hopes to have it in place by the 2012/13 season.

But EU spokesman John MacDonald stressed it would fall foul of the EU’s anti-discrimination legislation and would not stand up in court.

“The ‘six-plus-five rule’ of FIFA is simply a rule that is based on grounds of nationality so that is incompatible with community law,” he said.

“If they were to implement the ‘six-plus-five rule’ in Europe what would happen is any professional football player who feels aggrieved by the rule would be able to take the football club concerned to court and he would probably win the case.”

FIFA have said they want to “explore” the possibilities “within the limits of the law”, but while the EU would welcome dialogue, MacDonald does not see a way forward for the plan.

Blatter’s ‘six-plus-five rule’ proposal received the “overwhelming” backing at FIFA’s annual congress in Sydney, Australia, with 155 votes in favour and only five against.

Blatter said: “The congress was very happy in a result of overwhelming majority, with 155 votes in favour and five against. It is an overwhelming support to this resolution.”

The FA voted “in favour of further exploration” of FIFA’s proposal but the Premier League have outlined their concerns.

An FA spokesman said: “Bringing through more high-quality English players in the future is an absolute priority for the FA.

“One of our reservations has always been that the ‘six-plus-five’ rule appears to contravene European law and we welcome further exploration of its legality.

“However, this is a question of balance and we believe first and foremost in a meritocracy system, where players appear in club teams based on performance and ability.’’

“This is at the core of our coach and player development strategy over the coming years.”

However, the Premier League – whose ultimate priority is maintaining the quality and profile of the English top flight competition – issued a statement insisting while they share a desire to see more home-grown players, it must remain fair.

“We want to see the greatest possible number of England-qualified players coming through in the Premier League, but this has to be based on merit and quality, and there is no doubting that foreign talent has aided the technical development of the English game.”


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