Europe shows the red card to Fifa quota plan

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The Independent Online

Plans by the world game's governing body, Fifa, to introduce nationality quotas have been condemned as illegal by the European Commission. Fifa is considering a "6 + 5" rule ensuring that at least six players in a squad are from the club's own country. The plan is due to be put to a Fifa congress in Sydney tomorrow. But yesterday the commission warned that such a move amounted to discrimination which was outlawed by EU rules.

"We are giving a red card to the 6 + 5 rule," said Vladimir Spidla, Europe's commissioner for equal opportunities. Fifa's proposal differs from a "home-grown players" rule proposed by Uefa, governing body of the European game. Uefa defines "home-grown players" as those 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 age of 15 and 21.

The commission has approved the Uefa arrangement because, says Brussels, it contains no player conditions based on nationality. "Compared with the intentions announced by Fifa to impose the so-called 6 + 5 rule which is directly discriminatory and therefore incompatible with the EU law, the 'home-grown players' rule proposed by Uefa seems to be proportionate and to comply with the principle of free movement of workers".

Yesterday's commission announcement follows an independent study on the "home-grown player" rule under which clubs in the Champions League and the Uefa Cup would have to have a minimum number of "home-grown players" in their squads.

The commission said the underlying objectives of the Uefa scheme – to promote training for young football players – were legitimate.

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