Football: Fifa faces EU challenge to transfer rules

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The Independent Online
The European Commission yesterday sent a shot across the bows of football's world governing body, warning that its transfer regulations contravened European Union laws.

The Commission said in a statement that a recent circular by Fifa "constitutes an unjustified obstacle to the free movement of workers." The Fifa "circular 616" was prompted by a row over the status in Europe of the Brazilian international striker, Ronaldo.

At a cost of over pounds 17m, Ronaldo has attempted to buy his way out of a contract with Barcelona of Spain so that he can join Internazionale in Italy. Barcelona have objected to the move, saying transfers must be arranged between clubs and not individuals, and Fifa rules state that a player cannot buy out his contract for the purpose of obtaining an international transfer.

Yesterday's European Commission statement alleged that Fifa's circular appeared to maintain a system which had already been ruled illegal by the European Court of Justice, and that it appeared to contravene EU regulations.