FA backs 'further exploration' of six-plus-five rule

The Football Association have confirmed they voted "in favour of further exploration" of Fifa's six-plus-five rule proposal.

Fifa president Sepp Blatter has said he hopes the controversial rule, limiting clubs to five foreign players, will be in place by the 2012/13 season.

His vision appears to be a step closer following the overwhelming backing at Fifa's annual congress in Sydney, Australia today.

And the FA have confirmed they voted in favour because of their desire to increase the development of "high-quality" homegrown players, but admitted their concerns that the rule would seem to contravene European law.

Fifa boss Blatter has pointed to the Premier League's dominance in this season's Champions League as an example of why his organisation must implement the idea, despite legal concerns from the European Union.

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."

The Premier League issued a statement this morning insisting while they want the competition to feature as many English players as possible, it must remain a meritocracy.

"EU official spokespeople have repeatedly said that a nationality-based player quota system would be unlawful within the European Union," the statement said.

"They have also stated that any form of gentleman's agreement to achieve this objective would be instantly challengeable.

"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."

While Blatter seems determined to press ahead despite opposition from clubs and the European Union, Uefa is well aware of the difficulties which lie ahead but endorse the 'objectives' of the proposal such as enhancing player development and protecting national teams.

Bearing those concerns in mind, a statement on Uefa's website said: "Against this background, the following text, agreed by the Fifa President and the Uefa Executive Committee, was presented to the 53 Uefamember associations for approval at the upcoming Fifa Congress:

"'The Fifa Congress fully supports the objectives of the 'six-plus-five' rule and asks the President of Fifa and the President of Uefa to continue to explore, together with the sports movement, all possible means within the limits of the law to ensure that these crucial sporting objectives be achieved."

Stressing Fifa would proceed "within the limits of the law", Blatter said this week: "It's to make sure that there is better balance in the competitions and not only three or four teams in a league of 18 or 20 are fighting to be the champion and all the others are just there to not be relegated.

"As (Newcastle manager) Kevin Keegan recently said: 'I can only start my season to fight to be fifth or sixth or seventh. It is impossible for me to go into the final four'.

"At the end of the Champions League in Europe you have in the quarter-finals four teams of the same association; in the semi-finals three of these teams.

"Then in the final you are surprised that you have two teams of the same association?

"We want to bring some remedies and this is the six-plus-five rule's objective."

Despite FIFA backing the plan, the European Union has already indicated it would contravene European laws.

"We are giving the red card to the 'six-plus-five' rule," Europe's commissioner for equal opportunities, Vladimir Spidla, said on Wednesday.

Fifa's controversial proposal is different from a "home-grown players" rule proposed by Uefa, European football's governing body.

Uefa defines "home-grown players" as team members 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 ages of 15 and 21.

The Commission has approved the Uefa arrangement because, says Brussels, it contains no player conditions based on nationality.

Spidla said: "Compared with the intentions announced by Fifa to impose the so-called 'six-plus-five' rule, which is directly discriminatory and therefore incompatible with the EU law, the 'home-grown players' rule proposed by Uefa seems to me to be proportionate and to comply with the principle of free movement of workers."

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
News
Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'