Blow for Blatter as EU rejects '6+5' plan to limit foreign players

The European Parliament dealt another blow to Fifa president Sepp Blatter's controversial plans to curb the number of foreigners in the game by voting against the proposals yesterday. EU lawmakers rejected Blatter's "6+5 rule", which allows no more than five foreign players to start a match, by 518 votes to 49 but most backed the "home-grown player rule" of the European game's governing body Uefa.

"The parliament calls on the member states and sports associations not to introduce new rules that create direct discrimination based on nationality, such as Fifa's 6+5," the resolution said. "It calls on the Commission to recognise the legality of measures favouring the promotion of players who have come through training schemes, such as a minimum number of locally-trained players, irrespective of their nationality."

Fifa opposes the Uefa rule, which sets a quota of locally-trained players at clubs without any discrimination on nationality, arguing that it encourages recruitment at a young age.

Uefa says Blatter's proposal is unworkable in the EU because it contravenes the bloc's laws on the free movement of workers and could lead to costly legal challenges – a view echoed by the EU assembly.

"We ask Fifa to join forces with the European Parliament and the European Commission and fully back the 'home-grown' rule," Belgian MEP Ivo Belet said.

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