Brussels blames Fifa for 'panic' over transfer fees

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Brussels yesterday blamed Fifa for weeks of "panic" over the threat to the football transfer market, and said that the football world would decide how the system was changed.

Brussels yesterday blamed Fifa for weeks of "panic" over the threat to the football transfer market, and said that the football world would decide how the system was changed.

Viviane Reding, one of two European Commissioners responsible for the issue, said she was confident that the football authorities would propose a legally-acceptable alternative structure by the end of October.

"The ball is in their court," Ms Reding told The Independent, arguing that she never proposed the end of transfer fees. "What we all want is not to destroy football, but to find a solution for football," she said.

The row over the issue culminated over the weekend with a statement from Prime Minister Tony Blair and German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder calling for the preservation of transfer fees.

There is a growing consensus in the football world that the transfer system will survive in some form and Ms Reding yesterday supported that assumption, arguing that she "cannot imagine that football wants, all of a sudden, to scrap transfer fees".

She was "open" to either small or large-scale reform, providing it complied with European law.

The action from the Commission which sparked the row followed more than two years of discussions with football's world ruling body over the implications of the Bosman ruling on the free movement of workers. Brussels concluded that Fifa's regulations on international transfers breached European Union law by laying down a system for the sale of players under contract.

Ms Reding said Fifa's failure to consult resulted in a wildly exaggerated fears. "The disinformation [about the intentions of Brussels] came because Fifa had not informed anyone, and the panic arose.

"The club presidents did not know anything. It was Fifa's fault for not consulting the football world and for not informing the football world.

Following two meetings last week, Ms Reding has given the football authorities until 31 October to respond with formal plans to amend the rules with the objective of resolving the issue "within months".

Fifa's spokesman Andreas Herren yesterday rejected the charges, arguing: "We have not been dragging our feet, we have been constructive and cooperative from the beginning. It is not Fifa which talks directly to the clubs, we talk to national associations and they have been informed by circular letters."

The Commission sees two possibilities for a solution. One option is for the Fifa's regulations to be amended to lay down the principles around which transfers should be paid.

The alternative is to delegate negotiations on the new regime to a national level, thereby avoiding a clash with EU law for technical reasons.

Comments